1 Challenges to transnational social workers mobility within a changing landscape of European immigration policies: The United Kingdom as a destination Dr Shereen Hussein Principal Research Fellow Social Care Workforce Research Unit King s College London
2 Funding and disclaimer The original studies have been funded by the Department of Health in England (grant number (NIHR- CCF 056/0013) and Skills for Care and Development and the former GSCC). The views expressed in this articles are of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the views of the funders.
3 Background Growing needs to facilitate global professional transferability Social workers are part of such transnational professional movements But, social work can be cultural and nation specific The United Kingdom relies on migrant social workers to fill in shortages Social work training, regulation and qualifications are variable across the globe and especially within Europe
4 What do we mean by transnational social workers (TSWs)? For the purpose of this analysis, I define TSWs as those who have been trained outside the UK and are able to utilise their training across borders. The analysis focuses on understanding facilitating, or hindering, factors in relation to the process of entering and starting practising in the UK as a host country. It does not address other issues of continued process of cross-border professional learning.
5 Research Aims 1. Identify different challenges faced by transnational social workers seeking to practise in the UK. 2. Differentiate, when possible, such experience for EU and non-eu qualified social workers.
6 Data Based on two empirical research studies: Study A: a pan-european data-gathering exercise focusing on regulation and qualification structures of social work in 27 EEA countries contextualised by analysis of application documentations of TSWs applying to practise in England in 2011 Study B: data from 66 TSWs participating in interviews (11), online survey (48) and two focus groups (7), as part of a large national study on the experience of international social care workers in England Sequential design starting by interviews à analysis à survey (to test themes) à focus groups (to reflect on findings) Fieldwork from 2007 to 2010
7 Analysis The focus is on hierarchical challenges to TSWs mobility, with particular attention to those occurring within Europe. Data from TSWs qualified outside Europe are used as a comparable to illustrate differences and similarities. Pre-coded responses from the two surveys were quantitatively analysed using multivariate analysis. Analysis of interview and focus group data were guided by a theoretical framework following a literature review and a process of open coding, in which the coding frame was refined. Responses to open-ended survey questions were analysed initially through text mining then read, coded and organised as guided by the analytical framework
8 Analytical Framework Potential barriers to TSWs mobility exist at different levels of hierarchies Some are on the macro level, such as the UK immigration policies Others on the meso level, including training and regulation systems at home countries A third set is on the micro, individual level, such as language proficiency Some of these challenges are common to the majority of transnational professions, while others are more specific to the context of social work
9 Participants characteristics: Study A A total of 27 out of 30 EEA countries representatives responded to the online invitation only Lithuania, Portugal and Slovakia did not respond. volume of applications to work in England from different European countries did not directly match the level of engagement of different countries with our study.
10 TSWs participating in Study B
11 Challenges to TSW mobility Macro: Nation/state Meso: systems & regulations Micro: individual/ group Encountered at different levels They overlap, but also each has its own individual effects
12 Macro Level: Immigration Policies
13 UK immigration policies: A brief overview Traditionally, the UK relied on, and sometimes actively recruited from: old commonwealth countries those with colonial history Since 2003, several major changes: 2003: A8 joined the EEA with UK one of the few countries allowing early free labour mobility in : Introduction of point-based system (children social work remaining on the shortage list) 2012: Introduction of the non-eea immigration cap and other measures 2014: A2 (Romania and Bulgaria) joined the EEA
14 UK immigration policies as a barrier to TSW mobility Analysis of the level of applications received from TSWs to work in England reflects recent developments in the UK immigration policies. Increasing trend in SWs applications from within Europe year on year. For example, over 100 applications received from each of Romania (133) and Poland (110) in 2010 alone, compared to only 48 and 51 applications in 2009.
15 Immigration policies.. Cont. Encounters with immigration difficulties were evident among TSWs participating in the online survey, with the majority (86%) of SWs qualifying in EEA indicating no difficulties compared to 70% non-eea-qualified. Despite the fact that the majority of TSWs qualifying outside the EEA were recruited directly by UK employers through work permit schemes, thus reducing potential immigration difficulties.
16 These are recognised by TSW from different parts of the world (Female, Germany, interview, Study B) (Female, The Philippines, online survey, Study B).
17 Meso Level: Social Work Regulation, Training & Qualifications
18 Variability of SW regulation across Europe Social work education and regulation processes are variable across Europe EEA contact points indicated that SW profession to be regulated in only 12 countries However, 5 other countries indicated that social work education to be regulated
19 TSW experience reflected such variations EEA TSWs tended to indicate more difficulties in qualifications recognition when compared to non-eea TSWs. Less than half of EEA TSWs indicated having no difficulties in relation to their qualification recognition, compared to 81% of those who qualified in non-eea countries For non-eea TSWs recruited directly by UK employers, issues around qualification recognition were almost eliminated during their recruitment process: Zealand, interview, Study B). (Female, New
20 Differences in training across Europe Directly impact on qualification and work experience recognition both when applying to work in England and during practice after gaining employment: I think the [training] emphasis is just different, simply because, in Holland we don t have Social Services. It s a completely different system. It just means that the education is different, because it s tailored to the country that you are in.... So I don t really think they [GSCC] had come across the degree very often (Female, The Netherlands, interview, Study B). The GSCC delayed my registration by 12 months because they were not familiar with the concept of social pedagogy and did not understand that my qualification was equivalent to high qualification in this country (Female, Germany, online survey, Study B).
21 Social Work Activities Since the profession of social work is not a regulated profession in Sweden, it is difficult to limit the tasks and roles that would be considered as a social worker s duty (Swedish national contact point, Study A). The situation differs according to the professional activity. Pre-school social education (children from age 0 to 12) is regulated by the cantonal authorities; to educate young persons in special institutions for criminal teenagers is a federal-regulated profession. Some other social activities (like socio-cultural animation) are indirectly regulated thought the salary regulation (Switzerland national contact point, Study A).
22 TSWs qualifying in traditional countries also encountered problems When asked about differences in social work practice between their home countries and the UK, very similar proportions of 57% of EEA and non-eea TSWs indicated that it is very different from that in my home country (online survey, Study B). Though the countries share a political history, the social changes over time and cultural differences in populations have resulted in different health and social work languages and structures of how health and social care is organised (Female, Canada, Online Survey, Study B).
23 Micro Level: Communication skills and language proficiency
24 Communication skills and language proficiency Relatively more non-eea TSWs had no difficulties at all in relation to language requirements. Likely to be directly influenced by immigration requirements from non-eea migrants, where proficiency in English language is a pre- requisite. Language proficiency is not a pre-requisite for EEA TSWs to enter and work in the UK. For some, this may cause difficulties : [My main challenges while working in England are] Communication and language difficulties with other staff, service users; other people (Female, Germany, online survey, Study B).
25 English language as a transferable commodity learning English is regarded as a valuable transferable skill, which might be an initial motive for some EU TSWs to work in the UK in the first place: I always knew that I wanted to do something with the English language. I thought well, is there a way to combine my passion for the English language with social work and that s how I ended up doing an international degree in social work, back home in Holland (Female, The Netherlands, interview, Study B).
26 Language within the context of social work Working in a non-native language imposes its own barriers to communication flows and network building. Language interpretation is affected by communication style and cultural perceptions of different terms. I have had an experience of working quite closely with an Italian social worker and I always think she s angry with me. I always feel like I ve done something wrong. I ve learned that it is actually her way of expressing herself. But it does sounds, quite often she sounds very angry when she isn t, I realise that. There are sometimes, you can sound more abrupt and your accent can make you sound more abrupt (Female, Sweden, interview, Study B).
27 Communications can be tricky even for those from English speaking countries Even though we speak the same language [there are] different value base and references in different countries, which may make communications difficult (Female, New Zealand, focus group, Study B).
28 Micro-Meso level Cultural context
29 Ability to transfer skills into a different cultural context cultural context is defined to include that of the diversity of the host nation and its norms as well as home host country social work practice culture. These challenges are laid across a wide spectrum: understanding and relating to different groups of service users fitting into the UK social work culture the wider image of SWs within society. TSWs felt the need to transfer previous skills to support a diverse group of users TSWs are aided by individuals own ability AND level of training and support received post arrival
30 TSWs from within and outside of EEA consider cultural understanding as one of the main challenges: However, with some differences Proportionally more EEA TSWs indicated that communicating with staff and service users most challenging More non-eea TSWs indicated that colleagues and employers don t understand my culture Both groups were particularly disappointed with the poor image of social work in the UK society. In my home country] I worked with people who want my help and support unlike in this country [UK] where social work appears stigmatised (Female, South Africa, online survey, Study B).
31 Micro level: Social capital and support networks
32 Social Capital As the majority of professional migrants, TSWs draw strengths from immediate and wider networks Continuum process, from job seeking to that transferred across borders While been in employment I became pregnant. I couldn t get public funds at that time (2006) was ineligible for a single mum support. I had to get support from my family back in Romania in order to pay rent and for other necessities (Female, Romania, online survey, Study B). The act of migration itself could be initiated by other members of the family I came here initially for my wife,. I discovered that both of us cannot be international students at the same time because it s quite expensive. So I said, Oh no, the best thing is just to look for what the family will be living on. So fortunately for me, social work, and that was that (Male, Nigeria, interview, Study B).
33 Support networks The immediate family is the main support network Geographical proximity within Europe provides a higher sense of connection among EEA TSWs Emotional and financial support was evident to be received across borders Very limited additional support networks available to TSWs While the family provides TSW with a safety net, there are: Spill over issues It may place certain restrictions on career-progression potentials
34 The role of employers The majority of TSW indicated: very limited support mechanisms lack of formal induction Lost opportunities for support, integration and enhancing understanding of the UK cultural context This was the case even when active recruitment of TSWs was the case We felt like we got a lot of support when we were in the States [at the recruitment stage] but then when we got here [the UK], that [support] sort of tapered off... I think it s important for the employer to sort of touch base with the individuals. I mean you know, they put in all of this effort in terms of getting us here and then we got here, you know, sort of left to your own devices (Female, USA, interview, Study B).
35 Conclusion TSWs face similar challenges to that encountered by other transnational professionals The cultural sensitive nature of social work practice pose additional challenges On a macro level, the UK current immigration policies act as a pull factor to EEA professionals but a push factor to others The vast diversity and heterogeneity of social work education and regulation structures within Europe can be viewed as a push factor to EEA TSWs Family and social networks have clear implications in supporting, or limiting, the migratory processes of social work professionals. On the micro individual level, English language proficiency is a key factor that impacts on the experience of TSWs. There is a need for employers to take active responsibility in this process, acknowledging their role in facilitating TSWs experience through tailored induction and work-based support networks.
36 A new comparative study (New Zealand- UK- USA and Australia) We need non-uk qualified social workers to complete an online survey Please spread the word! me: Take a flyer