Social Work Migration Project

Knowledge Transfer

Social Work: A transferable profession?

According to the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), social workers around the world have a Global Standard for their work and common values like; self-determination, confidentiality, diversity and social justice. As social workers, we understand that the practice of social work varies from one country to another due to geography, socio-economics, culture and politics. In this context, how can knowledge, professional experience and values acquired in one country transfer to social work practice in another? What is the experience of internationally educated social workers in the context of Canadian practice?

Our study has revealed that the mission and values of social work are aspects of the profession that transfer well to the Canadian context, with some adaptation required. The role of the social worker varies from one country to another and is somewhat transferable across borders. Professional experience emerged as an aspect with great transferability. It was shown to be one of the principle elements facilitating the process of professional adaptation. Theoretical knowledge and clinical skills were equally, largely transferable. The majority of participants in this study reported that laws, socio-political norms, organizational policy and local context of practice represented the aspects of practice which were least transferable.

Finally, our study found that language proficiency was not automatically transferable to the Canadian context, whether migrant social workers had a strong understanding of either French or English when they arrived.

To learn more about the transfer of knowledge, please view the slide show below, developed for the Knowledge Exchange Forum in Halifax on November 21, 2014.

Knowledge transfer from swmp

Research results and academic articles to follow…