Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


*training, Social work., Social sciences

Publication Details

McSweeney, F. (2018). Graduates’ expectations and experience of social care work: Strengths and abilities being nurtured? Presentation, Social Care Ireland Conference, Athlone, March 2018


This paper reports on the views of social care graduates with regard to their expectations of the workplace and subsequent experiences as newly qualified practitioners in the workforce.

Two semi-structured interviews were conducted with the same participants. The first was at the end of their final year in college (n=17) and the second nine to twelve months later when they were in employment (n=14). Findings indicate that participants, while apprehensive, felt ready for the workforce. Similarly graduating students held fears about transitioning to the workplace particularly in relation to increased practice accountability but as workers participants reported themselves as coping with this increased responsibility, although some discussed the abruptness of the leap from little responsibility as students to complete responsibility as workers.

Findings from this research also examine the expectations of graduates in relation to finding stable work post qualification, which contradicted somewhat the realities for new graduates in finding employment in the social care field. The majority were employed as relief or agency workers and while appreciative of the experience being gained spoke of the difficulties encountered in relation to lone working, not having sufficient information about clients to engage meaningfully with them and the lack of supervision and support. Some also questioned the expectations of employers that they organise and pay for their own additional training. The majority however were enjoying the work and particularly engagement with clients.