People who have been in the social work profession for a while make a lot of assumptions about young social workers. I’ve heard some people say that young social workers are different from previous generations, that they are less radical, less committed to social change. I’ve also heard them say that young social workers have no sense of vocation, that for them, it’s just a job.
I’ve never been entirely convinced of this argument, either in terms of the assumed radicalism of older social workers, or the conservatism of younger social workers. For example, in relation to the assumed radicalism of older generations see Uttley (1981) in a 1980s study of the motivation of UK and NZ social workers. He found that:
A relatively small percentage of respondents saw social and political action to change public ills at societal level as a major objective.
The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) asked Learning Designs to conduct an online survey of young social workers to get to the bottom of some of these assumptions. The survey was open to young social workers from New Zealand who were 28 and under. It was designed to discover:
- why they wanted to become social workers
- the causes they care about, and what they do to support those causes
- what they expect from a professional social work association.
You can discover what the survey found in the infographic below.