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Home > Arhiva > 2011 > Numar: 3 > European Social Workers in England: Exploring International Labour Mobility

 European Social Workers in England: Exploring International Labour Mobility

  • Karen Lyons (Faculty of Applied Social Sciences, London Metropolitan University, Ladbroke House, 62-66, Highbury Grove, London, N5 2AD, e-mail:
  • Sue Hanna (School of Health Sciences and Social Care, Brunel University, West London, UB8 3PH, UK, e-mail:

Social work is generally regarded as an essentially ‘local activity’ but it is increasingly acknowledged that European and international trends have a bearing on development of national services and practices. This extends to the mobility of social workers themselves and England has experienced a steady growth in the recruitment of ‘international social workers’ who were born and qualified elsewhere. This is a generally under-researched area but the authors have drawn on literature in the wider field of labour migration and also secondary data and anecdotal evidence to present some facts and ideas about recruitment as it applies to social workers from European Union (EU) member states in particular. International social workers come to England from a large number and wide range of countries. However, the balance has been shifting between recruitment predominantly from the US and Commonwealth countries to a greater number from EU states. The current characteristics of international (particularly EU) social work recruitment are outlined in this paper and reasons related to both (national) demand and (international) supply are suggested. It is proposed that reasons are related to changes and conditions in the EU; to the national Government’s efforts to curb immigration; and to the particular characteristics of social work employment in England, particularly in child protection work. Some of the implications for European social workers of working in England are explored and it is concluded that there is a need for comparative and transnational research in this field.

Keywords: international social workers; labour mobility; immigration; child protection; European Union