In today's Social Work Podcast I speak with David Dininio, Recruitment Manager for HCL Social Care International, about how social workers in the United States can work as social workers in other countries. Let’s be honest. You didn’t become a social worker because you wanted to travel the world. Even if you’re someone who has the travel bug – You’re a social worker. You’re not making a whole lot of money? How are you going to finance it? Today’s Social Work Podcast is about how social workers can work abroad.
Download MP3 [46:54]
TranscriptIntroduction to rebroadcast
Hey there podcast listeners. Today’s episode is a rebroadcast of “So You Want to Work Abroad?” But, before I get into that I want to thank everyone who has responded to my requests for help transcribing episodes. And I want to give a big shout out to someone who generously transcribed Episode #91 with Carol Tosone, Ph.D. talking about Shared Trauma: Rashiida Edwards, LMSW. She’s a couples therapist at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy in New York City.
Back in 2010 I spoke with a guy who recruited licensed social workers from outside of the UK who wanted to live and do social work in the UK. Over the years I’ve gotten lots of emails from social workers who listened to the episode and wanted to know more about how they could hop the pond and get a job in the UK. My brief response was always, I have no idea. Please contact the recruiting company.
In December 2016, I was contacted, not by a social worker, but by a British recruiter by the name of Kai Searle who works for Amicus Recruit. Here’s what his email said and I’m going to do my best British accent not because I know what he sounds like, but because I’m reading Harry Potter to my daughter and we’re really getting into all the voices.
Ok, pretend I’m Kai:
“Morning Jonathan, Thanks for getting back to me! I’m currently working with a British authority that have a HUGE recruitment drive at the moment for overseas social workers to work in South East England. Particularly Social workers based over in the States, Canada, South Africa and Australia. We’re looking ideally for social workers with at least 2 years post qualified experience [and, “qualified” is like being “licensed” in the USA] in working with vulnerable children, ideally within a child protection team or setting. The minimum contract length would typically be around 12-24 months, but it could be permanent. Start date is Jan/Feb 2017. And their relocation costs, flights, accommodation, rent, sponsorship visa, would all be covered with a Fantastic relocation package.
I hope you had an excellent weekend!
Seems like a nice guy, right? Yes, he did write “fantastic relocation package.” Before I shared this seemingly fantastic opportunity with you I did some checking around. I looked at the Kai’s company, Amicus Recruit and it seemed legit. But then again we’re in the era of fake news and, well, because the internet, I asked my friend David Niven, former head of the British Association of Social Workers and host of the Social World Podcast what he thought. He said they were legit. So this seems like a legit offer. If you’re a licensed social worker with experience in child protective services and want to do social work in South East England, email email@example.com. This information is on the website, socialworkpodcast.com, on the Twitter feed @socworkpodcast, and the Facebook page, facebook.com/swpodcast. If you have no interest in working in the UK, but know someone who does, please share this episode with them. After listening to this episode, if you’re interested in learning more about the differences between social work in the USA and the UK, check out the conversation I had with David Niven in episode 6 of the Social World Podcast [Editor's note: That's not the right podcast episode. The correct episode is #85 - Similarities and Differences between Social Work in the United States and the United Kingdom: Interview with David Niven.] That link is on the website and wherever you find information on the internet.
Two more things about this episode. First, you’ll hear my original introduction. Second, the person I’m talking to is David Dininio, not Kai Searle. Kai listened and said “Excellent Episode” so I assume that means that the information David shared still applies. If you end up contacting Kai, please post a comment on the episode page of the Social Work Podcast and tell us about your experience.
And now, without further ado, on to a rebroadcast of episode 58 of the Social Work Podcast including, “So you want to work abroad? An interview with David Dininio”.
Introduction to original broadcast
I’m a big proponent of living abroad. When I was 15, my family moved to Cambridge, England. I was not interested in going. I was supposed to start 10th grade at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. You might have heard of T.C. Williams. Denzel Washington made it famous in the movie “Remember the Titans,” a story about how a coach and a football team helped the school and the city coming to terms with racial integration. Now, the movie came out years after I graduated, and honestly it was the first I’d heard of that story. But back when I was 15, I don’t think knowing the history of my high school would have made too much of a difference… I just knew that T.C. was going to be a great place to spend my 10th grade. What could I possibly learn by moving to England for a year that I couldn’t get by hanging out with my friends in Alexandria? Well, as it turns out, a lot.
I learned that I loved Chicken Tikka Masala and Mango Lassis. I learned that Eddie Murphy was the funniest guy in America, only because most Americans couldn’t understand a word of what Scottish comedian Billy Connolly was talking about. I learned that some McDonalds in England charged for ketchup – a practice that I self-righteously denounced in the name of all that was good about America. Speaking of America, living in England made me feel, I think for the first time, like I WAS an American. Although I had never been particularly patriotic, I found myself defending my country – explaining our tripartite form of government, and how not everyone looked, talked or lived like J.R. Ewing from the TV show Dallas.
I learned that just because I spoke English didn’t mean that I knew anything about the English. I learned that Disney totally misled me when they said, “It’s a small world (after all).” The kids I went to school with that year in England had a different set of values, social norms, career aspirations, opportunities, fashion… And I was totally surprised by this. Why? Because I believed that it was a small world after all. And I was wrong. My year in England taught me that my world was small; the world was very, very large.
In addition to the realizations I had about myself and others, I also got to travel, which you’ll hear in the interview is one of the real benefits of working abroad as a social worker. That year I looked for sea monsters in Scotland’s Loch Ness; went skiing in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia; ate Tapas in Spain (years before they became overpriced and hip in the United States); sipped sweet mint tea in Morocco; and ate wild boar in the French Alps on New Years. And all of this sounds very exotic. But one of the other things I learned living in England. It’s not really that far to go to France. Spain is just a boat ride. When you grow up in the United States, your sense of distance is totally different. I mean it can take 24 hours to drive from one end of Texas to the other and 18 hours to drive from one end of Great Britain to the other.
So after a year of mind-blowing experiences, I came home to Alexandria to find out that my friends also had a year’s worth of mind-blowing experiences. Just that their year of mind-blowing experiences all happened together and it took me months to catch up to all the inside jokes, games, tv shows, cultural references, the things that I missed. And it took me a while realize how influential my year abroad had been. And one of the things I talk with David Dininio about is, whether or not going abroad as a social worker is going to help a social worker’s career. He argues, quite convincingly, that taking a year and getting to know another social service system will absolutely help a social worker’s career.
So, if you’re interested in learning more about working abroad means, if you’re really interested in traveling to the U.K., or Australia… if you have questions about, “How do I finance it?”, “Can I bring my cat?”, “Do I need a license,” “Do I have to be a community organizer, do I have to be a policy person, can I do direct practice?” this podcast is for you – all of these questions will be answered.
One note about today's interview: I thought it was fitting that for this podcast on American social workers working internationally that I would interview someone outside of the United States. David works and lives in Toronto, Canada and I was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We used Skype to record the interview. And now, without further ado, on to Episode 58 of the Social Work Podcast, “So You Want to Work Abroad? An Interview with David Dininio.”
Download MP3 [46:54]
Interview [pdf download ]
Jonathan Singer: David, thanks so much for being here on the podcast and talking with us today about international social work. My first question for you is, is there a difference between social work in the United States, or Canada, and another country, say, the United Kingdom?
David Dininio: Not really. Fundamentally, social work is, the practice itself, is constant across the world. Within different countries they have different structures, different methodologies but, in general, it’s just helping people deal with problems in their lives. Some countries obviously have a greater demand, whether it be working, for example, in Haiti right now or going to countries like the United Kingdom or the United States or Canada where it’s a little more structured but the demand is still there for social workers.
Jonathan Singer: So, what types of jobs to social workers do overseas? Like, for example, if I have an MSW and I do therapy in the United States, can I do therapy in the United Kingdom?
David Dininio: Absolutely. When it comes to comparing North America in general compared to, say, the UK or Australia, or South Africa, or New Zealand, the job roles are essentially the same. Whether you’re doing child protection work or dealing with adult mental health, you’re still working at service agencies or with local government school boards, you know, correctional institutions. It’s just the intensity might change a little bit. In the UK, for example, it is by far the longest standing social work system in the world and with a very large population, the demand on the social worker is a little more intense than say, for example, in Canada. But the job that they do as a social worker remains the same underneath the policies and acts of the various countries.
Jonathan Singer: So, would I need an MSW to go overseas or could I have a bachelor’s in social work? Is there any sort of minimum educational requirements?
David Dininio: Yeah, typically the minimum educational requirement is a bachelor’s of social work. So anyone that has a BSW or an MSW has the ability to work overseas, again, in the UK, for example, where employers do require a minimum of a BSW for a social worker to be employed as a social worker legally, for that matter.
Jonathan Singer: So let’s say I have my BSW or MSW and I’m interested in going overseas, what would I actually have to do to get overseas? What’s the process? Is there paperwork and visas and all that stuff?
David Dininio: Well, each country has different requirements to work as a social worker in their country. For example, in the United Kingdom, you have to be registered as a social worker with the country’s governing body called the GSCC. In order to register as a social worker in the UK you do have to have either a BSW or an MSW. In Australia it’s a little bit different, for example, you don’t necessarily have to be registered with the association in that country, but again, a BSW is the minimum educational requirement needed to work as a social worker there. Now, that being said, if someone does have a diploma in social work, they can still work in the social care field in different countries just maybe not at the level of a degreed social worker.
Jonathan Singer: So let’s say I graduate and I’ve got my degree, how do I actually get registered in the UK, for example?
David Dininio: Well, for example, in the UK, once you have your degree you can actually download an application from the association or from the council online, it’s about a 28 page application that’s very detailed. It does require you to provide proof of your graduation and your degree including transcripts as well as work experience and references. But once that’s completed it is then sent to the governing council with an application fee and then from there they go ahead and do all the background checks and processing. Once they see everything checks out on their end then they actually include you as part of the register in the UK.
Jonathan Singer: Wow, so as somebody from the United States, I could graduate, fill out this really long application, and then be registered to provide social work services in the UK?
David Dininio: Absolutely. And that registration is initially it’s good for three years and then it’s a yearly fee after that to keep registered. Now as a part of the GSCC, they do require for you to keep up certain levels of professional development, attend a certain number of hours in training and work in order to stay registered.
Jonathan Singer: So obviously I would get my passport and if I was registered I would get my passport. Do I have to have an agency that has said, “Yes, I will hire you” before I get on a plane and head over to the UK and say, “Need a social worker?”
David Dininio: Well, there’s a couple of different options available. One of things that we suggest to most social workers who want to work internationally, especially, for example, in the UK, is to dig into your family backgrounds. Find out if you have family dating back to, say, parents or grandparents that are born in that country. For example, again, in the UK if you have grandparents that are of British citizenship then you are eligible to get a UK ancestry visa which essentially is almost a British passport that allows you to go in and out of the country and work for any employer that you wish to. You know, if you have European descendents, you may be eligible for an EU passport which allows you to travel throughout the European Union very freely. If you don’t have either one of these, then you would actually have to get a work permit or a visa. Again, every country has their own structure as far as visas are concerned, their own prerequisites and criteria. Again, because we deal with the UK so much, the UK has a multi-tiered immigration system. Underneath that immigration system there’s a variety of different work visas that are available to, say, North American social workers to be able to go over and work overseas in the UK.
Jonathan Singer: And so, I can get one of those visas without having a job in hand?
David Dininio: For a couple of them, yes. For example, there is what they call a Tier 1 or a Highly Skilled Worker’s Visa that you can apply for. It’s a visa that you essentially own and gives you the freedom, the independence, and autonomy to be able to work for any employer overseas in the UK. So you can, again, go over to the UK with this visa, pick out an employer you want to work for whether it be a contract or permanent, and you don’t need to be sponsored by an employer. There’s another visa called a Tier 2 visa or a Skilled Worker’s Visa that does require sponsorship and requires and employer to provide you with an offer of employment before you can actually apply for the visa. For other countries, for example in Canada, for anyone under the age of thirty years old, there’s a third visa available called the Youth Mobility Visa, typically available only to commonwealth countries where, if you’re under thirty years of age and you hold a degree, you can get this visa as well without sponsorship from an employer.
Jonathan Singer: So, it really depends on what you’re situation is. I mean, if you have 25 years of clinical experience and you’re the director of a social service agency, and you might be eligible for one those highly skilled visas, which would be different than, you know, I’m 25, I just graduated with my MSW and I’d love to spend a year in England.
David Dininio: That’s right, exactly. There’s a lot of options available. Again, the visas are dependent, some are based on a points system where you’re given points for your education, your work experience, as well as your financial status. To be able to go over to the UK on a work visa you have to have a certain amount of financial stability, we’ll say, before you can actually apply to go over there.
Jonathan Singer: When you say “financial stability” do you mean that you have to actually talk about what’s in your bank accounts?
David Dininio: Absolutely. The one thing that the UK government is trying to avoid is people coming over to the country and jumping on the social assistance system right away. So what they’ve done as part of the work permits that are available to international social workers, one of the criteria is you have to have a certain amount of financial funds in your bank account prior to actually applying for your visa. Then when you do apply for your visa, you have to provide bank statements as proof that you have that money in the bank to support yourself when you go over to the UK. It’s almost considered like bridging money if you will, or support money from the time you land until your first paycheck.
Jonathan Singer: It sounds like it costs some money to work overseas, to work internationally. Is that true? And if so, how much does it cost? And are there ever things like relocation funds?
David Dininio: Yes, it does cost money. The first cost would be, for some countries, again like the UK, is paying an application fee to be registered as a social worker in that country. The second thing would be an application fee for your work permit or your visa. Again, they vary depending on which visa you’re applying for as well as having, again as I mentioned, the funds in your bank in order to apply. And then additionally there’s, you have to be financially ready for picking up accommodations when you’re overseas, paying for your groceries, your flight, a cell phone, other necessities that you’ll require once you hit the ground. There’s really no definitive amount of money or definitive cost involved in international social work. We cannot say that, oh it’s going to cost you 5,000 dollars to go overseas and work in the UK. The cost varies depending on the type of visa you want, the type of accommodation you want, whether it be a shared apartment or a one bedroom, or you might even be staying in a hostel, short term or long term accommodation, as well as your flights. It varies depending on the person and what they want and what they require.
Jonathan Singer: So, it sounds like it would be unlikely that most social workers would get relocation funds or get financial assistance from a job to move over there to do work.
David Dininio: Oh no, absolutely. There’s a lot of employers that are willing to offer relocation packages or relocation bonuses to international social workers. In fact, I was just speaking with a social worker out of Chicago just the other day who received a job offer from one of the councils in the UK, and they offered her a very nice relocation package to help pay for her flight and accommodations. They actually put her up in a hotel for two weeks until she can find her own apartment, they gave her money for moving expenses. Now, a lot of the relocation packages are reimbursement, so you still have to be paying money up front for accommodation and flights, however, after a certain amount of time working with the employer, they would actually reimburse you back that money.
Jonathan Singer: And what types of jobs would those be? Would those be sort of direct service, in-the-field jobs, or is that more the administrative types of positions?
David Dininio: Yeah, it would be direct in the field. A majority of the positions that we deal with are front line social worker, case manager positions. You know, the social work industry is essentially broken down into three or four categories. One, being children and family services, the second being adult mental health services, elderly care and management or gerontology, and then the fourth could be considered adoption or fostering. Anyways, that’s how it’s broken down in the UK. But by far the majority of the roles we deal with are front line case managers and social workers. But as far as relocation, I mean that’s available to, it’s really dependent on the employer, if they want to offer relocation for an administrative position, then that’s fine. But for the social work positions that we deal with, there are a good number of employers who are willing to help international social workers out with costs.
Jonathan Singer: So how much would employers pay? And I know that’s probably, there’s probably a wide range as there is in any job, but what are pay scales like in places like the UK, or Canada, or any of the other countries where you place folks?
David Dininio: Absolutely. Well, again, I’ll use the UK as an example. To come into the UK as an international social worker, you start off pretty much at ground level whether you have five or ten years of experience. Not that you’re gonna come in as newly qualified, but you cannot expect to come into the country at the level you’re at in say the US or Canada because you’re not familiar with the legislation, with the structures, the methodologies, the theories in the UK so you’re going to be required to get into a lower position in order to pick up that knowledge and then as you gain more experience in the UK you can start working your way up. If you’re coming into the UK as, you know, a baseline social worker, say with a year to three years of experience, you could earn anywhere from 18 to 21 pounds per hour and with the exchange rate at, what, I think it’s about a dollar-sixty-five or a dollar-sixty-seven right now, that translates into a pretty good hourly rate. And then as you go higher, that rate obviously increases. Typically the UK is known for paying higher salaries than North America.
Jonathan Singer: So let’s say I get over to the UK, I’ve got a job, it’s paying me actually more than I would get paid in the United States, but I’m not planning on staying in the UK. So, does the experience that I gain over in the UK and does the continuing education that I get, will that translate back to the United States? In other words, am I essentially putting my social work career on hold by going overseas?
David Dininio: Not at all. If anything, it’s going to help better your career. If you’re over in, say in the UK or Australia or New Zealand for a year or two years picking up international experience, when you come back to North America, that international experience, believe it or not is very very highly regarded because you’ve got exposure to different cases and different theories and methodologies from another country that you can bring back to North America and you can transfer that knowledge into another work place. But it is very highly regarded. No, you’re not putting your social work career on hold, if anything, it’s just going to improve it.
Jonathan Singer: And I guess there’s a corollary, you know, I’m being a little ethnocentric, I’m thinking about how my social work education, or my social work experience might suffer by going overseas. But I guess the other question is, do social service agencies in the UK, and Australia, and New Zealand, do they value the education that social workers in the United States get?
David Dininio: Absolutely. Well, in the UK, from a UK standpoint, the US social care system is very highly regarded. It’s one of the, if not the biggest social care system in the world. Being from a superpower like the US and having major metropolitan areas in the US very similar to the UK, US experience is very highly regarded and sought after by UK employers.
Jonathan Singer: Ok, so my skills are valued, I know the process for going over there, I’ve got a job, I’m going to make more money, but let’s say I’m in a relationship. Can I take my family if I have kids? Can I take pets? Are there any restrictions on that end?
David Dininio: Well, let’s take that in two part, one being a spouse or a girlfriend or boyfriend or significant other that you would like to bring with you. Once you secure a visa or work permit, there is a possibility of that person being on your work permit as a dependent, that they can come over to the UK with you as a dependent. Some people option to have their spouse or their significant other to secure their own work visa or work permit for their job, to get a job over in the UK. So, again there’s a variety of options available to significant others. With regards to pets, believe it or not, there’s actually, again for the UK, there’s actually a pet visa, as we like to call it. It’s called the Pet Travel Scheme, and there are obviously requirements and hoops that the pet owner has to jump through, for example, getting a blood test done on the animal, having them not necessarily in quarantine for six months, but under supervision for six months before the animal is brought over to the UK. But it is a very simple procedure and pretty easy to do, it just requires the animal to be watched and tested on a regular basis before going over to the UK.
Jonathan Singer: So let’s say I’m dating somebody or I’m in a relationship with somebody who’s a nurse, or a doctor, or provides some other services. Is it possible that both of us could get jobs overseas?
David Dininio: Absolutely. I really can’t speak to industries outside of healthcare and social care, for example, carpentry, or IT, or finance. But there is a lot of job opportunity overseas in countries. The job market is starting to come back around in the majority of countries, especially in healthcare, no matter what, in healthcare and in social care there’s always going to be a need as long as there are people around with issues. So if you’re, if your spouse or significant other is a nurse or a doctor or in some sort of healthcare or social care field, then we can definitely help them find something because not only do we need social care workers, we also do nurses and physicians as well.
Jonathan Singer: Can you talk a little bit about placement agencies like the one you work for and the sort of services you provide and how somebody would get involved in that?
David Dininio: In the international market in the social care field there are a number of agencies, international agencies, that a social worker can go through like HCL. Most agencies work in the same way in the sense that we’re recruitment firms. Our job is to get you overseas and find you an employment as soon as you get over there. In order to get involved with any agencies, typically you have to register with the agency first, which means providing them with some of your details, your name, your address, when you want to move, so that they can populate the database with your information so that they can track when you first contacted us. And then we help you as consultants, not necessarily recruiters, but as consultants, step you through the whole process, help you work through all the paperwork, set out timelines for you and deadlines to say, ok, by this date you have to have this paperwork in to me, by this date you should have applied for your visa, and by this date you should have your flight arranged. So that a lot of the thinking and anxiety is taken out of the whole process by us. So services like HCL or any other recruitment agency is very very helpful in really taking a load off of the social worker’s back and figuring everything out.
Jonathan Singer: It sounds like it really takes the guesswork out of how to get overseas.
David Dininio: Yes.
Jonathan Singer: And which is kind of nice, you know, obviously you’ve done this before and you know some of the hoops. And I know that in my social work program we learned nothing about how one might get overseas, so that sounds like it’s a great service. And thinking of the people you’ve worked with, do you have any sort of success stories or illustrations of the kinds of people that you’ve helped place and what their experience has been overseas?
David Dininio: Yeah, absolutely. Well, the process itself is not as daunting as some people may think. You nailed it right on the head in saying that we take the guesswork and the anxiety out of the whole process but, for example, in October/November a person called me, she was based out of South Carolina, she was a social worker with an MSW, had graduated about two years ago and had been working with the local family services agency in South Carolina, she had been thinking about going over to the UK for quite some time. For most people the thought of going overseas and working internationally usually is brought up during their education. They hear little tidbits about, you know, working overseas and trying out different cases, so this individual contacted me directly after seeing something on the web, I think it was through a forum or a chat that had been on and expressed her interest in going overseas. She had done very little research with regards to what’s required so it was my job as her consultant to really explain to her what the process was and lay it out for her straight. I had actually set out a timeline for her to say, you have to have this information into me by this date, so that from the beginning ‘til the end we knew exactly how long it was going to take for her to get over to the UK and get employment. So we stepped through all the hoops, as you mentioned, she filled out all her application forms, she got her registration into the local governing body, and then about a month and half before she was gonna go over I advised her to apply for her visa, we talked about visas, and she chose which one she wanted to go with, she applied for her visa. And the process was actually, it was very strategic and very simple for her to understand, she didn’t have to worry about timelines and deadlines, she could focus still on her work and what she was doing in South Carolina while she was going through all of this. We finally got a landing date set up, so she had booked her flight, and about a month before she booked her flight we had all of her paperwork done and ready to go, she was registered. And so with that we actually started approaching employers. So essentially what we do is once we have your paperwork in place we will kind of shop, if you will, or go out and be proactive and talk to the employers in the region of your choice. So this young lady decided that she wanted to work in the south of England, so we approached employers in Brighton Hove as well as other areas along the coast in the West Sussex and East Sussex and Kent and said, ok, this young lady, she has been registered, she’s got a visa, and she’s ready to come over, she’s gonna be landing on this date, would you be interested in speaking with her? So a number of the employers were very interested, we managed to set up some phone interviews and Skype interviews with this person, with the employers, and through that we had arranged some interviews so that as soon as she landed, the day after she landed in the UK, she went for her second interview with a couple of the employers and then within a week she had actually been offered a job. And that was just at the beginning of January, so she’s been working at this employer for about three weeks now, she’s very happy, we’re staying in touch with her, she’s actually attended a couple of our social events that we put together for internationals where they can get together and talk to other Americans and Canadians and Europeans that are working in the UK and they can kind of build a network of friends and contacts while they’re over there. So it was a very successful story, it went very very smoothly, and the timing was just set out right and that’s where our specialty is, is really kind of setting out the timeline and having us worry about making sure the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed before anything happens.
Jonathan Singer: It’s almost backwards from what I would imagine. I would almost imagine that you would want to get the job first and then do the paperwork. But now that you’ve mentioned it, of course you wouldn’t want to approach an employer until you could say, yes, this person can actually work for you.
David Dininio: That’s right, it’s essential that all of your paperwork and your visas are in place before we actually go and talk to employers. Now throughout the whole process we don’t actually do the paperwork for you so we cannot apply for a social worker’s visa, the social workers themselves have to actually apply for the visa. We can consult with them on how to fill out paperwork, answer any questions that they may have, but the majority of the paperwork is actually done by the social worker, we’re just there to answer any questions they may have. But in the end, we’ll have a nice file on them with the completed registrations and visas, be able to go to an employer confidently and say, ok, in the case of this young lady, we were able to say, ok, she has an MSW, she’s got her visa, she’s got a couple of great years of work experience in the children and family services agency, are you interested? And the employers just jumped. It was very smooth, they are very interested in just the way that we present information on social workers. The employers really appreciate it that the social worker has gone through all of these steps in order to work overseas and they recognize that. As far as work experience is concerned, one of the common questions that come up is, is practicum or volunteer experience considered by employers overseas? And the answer is, absolutely yes. You may only have six months of real world work experience but the majority of universities in North America, you’re required to do anywhere from 800 to 900 practicum hours, which is about a year to a year and a half of work experience. So that, again, is very highly regarded by employers in the UK as well as any sort of volunteer experience. So if there’s any advice that I can offer social workers that are kind of coming fresh out of school, is get some volunteer experience under your belt, do your practicums, stick with your discipline. One of the biggest issues that we have is social workers jumping from discipline to discipline, so going from mental health to, say, children and families to elderly. From the get go, choose what you want to be in and stick with it right through.
Jonathan Singer: So, David you just mentioned that if social workers are interested in going overseas it would be really important for them to stick with their major area of children and families, gerontology, adult mental health, things like that. But if I really wanted to go overseas and I really wanted to be strategic about this, I guess the question is, where is the most need?
David Dininio: Well, there’s a need in all areas at this time but the majority of the need lies in the children and family services sector. With populations growing and universities and schools not turning out enough social workers, that discipline is really in desperate need of social workers especially over in the UK, as I mentioned. They currently estimate that about two in every seven social work positions in the UK currently remains vacant, which in an absolutely staggering number. And the majority of those positions are in children and family services which could range anywhere from basic child protection to fostering to children’s mental health, dealing with children with severe disabilities like autism. But that is by far where the biggest need is, in that sector.
Jonathan Singer: Well, so it sounds like there’s a need for social workers. You know, you’ve described a way that your company can help to make the process easier for social workers to get over there and it sounds like the skills that we have as social workers in the United States and our training and education, that it’s valued overseas. And clearly, what we learn overseas will help us be more marketable and better social workers over here in the United States. It sounds like a win-win situation for everybody.
David Dininio: Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of benefits for social workers to do some international work. One is gaining that international experience as we previously discussed. It’s very highly regarded when you come back to your country. The second thing is the ability to try out different cases, being on cases, it’s just increasing your knowledge base and broadening your view of social work. Going overseas and becoming an international social worker allows you to practice within different environments and different structures and systems and then be able to take that knowledge back home with you. And then thirdly, and what most people actually quite enjoy is the ability to do some traveling at the same time. Whenever we ask, why are you interested in working internationally, the two most common answers are gaining that international experience and doing some traveling. And, for example, with something, going somewhere like to London, England which is considered the gateway to Europe and only about two hours away from Paris, France, it’s a great opportunity to go and see different parts of the world at the same time.
Jonathan Singer: You know, it’s so funny that you, I’m glad you mentioned the travel part because I wasn’t even thinking about that. But, of course, if I’m thinking about visiting England for the first time, I’m gonna want to know that I can travel around and explore the world.
David Dininio: Absolutely. Well, it’s true. Paris is about a two hour train ride from London, England, you have Belgium is, I think, about five hours, you’re in an arm’s reach of Italy and a lot of the European Union nations. It’s a great experience and, again, it’s going out there, experiencing different cultures, different systems, and really kind of, it’s not work experience, we say it’s a lifetime experience. And to be able to turn around and say, you know what, I did that, is a great accomplishment and you get a lot of the social workers that we have dealt with feel very proud of being able to say, I worked overseas in this country as a social worker and I’m all the better for it.
Jonathan Singer: Well, and on that excellent up note to end this interview on, thank you so much for sharing your expertise and your insights into how to practice social work internationally. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today on the podcast.
David Dininio: You are very welcome. Thank you very much, I appreciate the time and I can only hope that there are some social workers out there that are willing to try it out.
BioDavid Dininio is a veteran recruitment professional who has over 12 years of talent acqusition experience in the global market. David has worked for some of North America's largest corporations, having helped them achieve their staffing goals through both domestic and international recruitment. He has worked with candidates from many different countries, including Canada, USA, South America, UK and Asia and is heavily focused on cross-border recruitment and placement. David is currently the Recruitment Manager for the HCL Social Care International in North America. His team of Consultants are responsible for collaborating with US and Canadian Social Workers to help them achieve their dream of working abroad in the UK and Australia. HCL Social Care is the largest social care recruitment firm in the United Kingdom, and have expanded their talent acquisition services into the US and Canada. HCL Social Care is commissioned (paid) by employers in the UK and Australia to identify and recruit North American Social Workers for varying social care positions abroad.
References and Resources
- Amicus Recruit http://www.amicusrecruit.com
- Kai Searle: firstname.lastname@example.org
- UK social care's governing body - www.gscc.org.uk
- Information about UK visas and immigration - www.ukvisas.gov.uk
- David Niven's Social World Podcast http://socialworldpodcast.com/
APA (6th ed) citation for this podcast:
Singer, J. B. (Host). (2016, December 31). Episode 58 - [Rebroadcast] So you want to work abroad? An interview with David Dininio. Social Work Podcast. Podcast retrieved from http://socialworkpodcast.com/2016/12/work-abroad.html