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Graduate retention in New Brunswick: Supplementary report on graduates in social work

Author: Bethany Jones, Ted McDonald, Pablo Miah
Year: 2023
Category: Economy and Labour, Education and Training

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In January 2023, the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training released a report called Graduate retention in New Brunswick: 2019 and 2020 cohort update (Balzer et al.), 1 which gave an overview of post-secondary graduates’ retention patterns, disaggregated by their field of study. While this provided many valuable insights into graduates’ education and mobility decisions, the fields of study examined were purposely broad. This allowed for comparison between graduates of programs in arts, science, business, and healthcare, for instance, but it did not allow for a narrower focus on the outcomes of graduates of specific fields of interest.

In New Brunswick, social work is one such field of interest. The retention of social work graduates 2 is an important topic in the public sphere, as social work has been identified as the second highest profession in need of a recruitment and retention strategy in New Brunswick, and pre-pandemic projections suggest the province could have a shortage of 272 social workers by 2030 (New Brunswick Association of Social Workers [NBASW], 2022). Given the increased demand for social workers since the start of COVID-19, this shortage could be even greater (NBASW, 2022).

This study focuses on the retention of social work graduates in New Brunswick and acts as a supplement to the earlier work by Balzer et al. (2023), using the same data and methodology but further breaking down the field of study category to examine social work specifically. The findings in this report provide an overview of social work graduates’ demographic backgrounds and mobility decisions and can help guide public policy discussions around education and training strategies to retain social workers in NB.

1 Graduate retention in New Brunswick: 2019 and 2020 cohort update (Balzer et al., 2023)

2 In this report, we refer to graduates of university social work programs and college social service community worker programs as “social work graduates.”

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