Agency managers are one of the key stakeholders in social work education, particularly in respect of practice placements. Managers play several roles within the placement context, acting as gatekeepers, supporters, mentors, potential employers and sometimes assessors of students. This study sought the perspectives of the managers of 13 social service organisations in New Zealand on practice placements. The findings of the study show that managers have preferences for specific attributes in social work students, including flexibility, humility, confidence and resilience. Challenges with placements are associated with student personal, interpersonal and cognitive capabilities, organisational factors and the tertiary institution. The findings also illustrate that the main benefits and motivations for supporting students are for the professional development of staff, completion of agency work, recruitment and workforce development. The article concludes that it is time for a new focus on understanding and supporting the development and assessment of student personal and interpersonal capabilities as well as skill and knowledge competencies. Furthermore, since managers are directly engaged with social work practice and are ultimately deciding which graduates to employ, greater consideration should be given to how institutions and employers can work together to determine which personal and interpersonal capabilities are relevant and necessary for the workplace.
Hay, K. & Brown, K. (2015). Social work practice placements in Aotearoa New Zealand: Agency managers perspectives. Social Work Education, 34(6), 700-715.