Job opportunities best for experienced social workers
Chances of getting a job as a social worker are average for new graduates but good for those with experience.
According to the Census, 8,019 social workers worked in New Zealand in 2018.
New graduates face strong competition but voluntary experience can help
New graduates can find it hard to get their first job as employers usually prefer experienced workers because social work can be very demanding.
To increase your chances of finding work:
- look for voluntary social work roles at organisations such as Youthline or Women's Refuge to build up your experience and contacts
- join a professional social worker organisation to gain access to mentors.
Rising demand for experienced social workers
Demand for trained and experienced social workers is increasing due to:
- a preference by employers to take on trained social workers
- the focus of Oranga Tamariki on hiring more social workers
- high turnover of social workers who have been working in stressful entry-level roles
- around 10% of social workers leaving to work overseas once they are registered
- an ageing population needing social workers to assist with abuse or neglect
- an ageing workforce of social workers, nearly 30% are aged 55 or over, compared to only 24% of all workers.
Social worker appears on Immigration New Zealand's Green List. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled social workers from overseas to work in New Zealand.
Government biggest employer of social workers
Most social workers are employed by the Government.
- Te Whatu Ora employ 23% of registered social workers
- Oranga Tamariki directly employs another 22% of registered social workers and funds social workers in community organisations.
Other employers are not-for-profit, iwi and Māori agencies, the education sector and private practices. Four percent are self-employed.
Most social workers are in full-time work, but 20% work part time.