Workforce planning 

The SWRB is the lead agency for workforce planning for all social workers. 

We collect and analyse workforce data and information and develop insights for use in workforce planning. We share insights on the issues, opportunities and challenges faced by the social worker workforce with Ministers, policy makers, employers, and others across the health and social services and community sector.  

Through the evidence we are gathering, the picture that is emerging is one of a significant social worker shortage. Our findings highlight a mismatch between demand and supply of social workers:  

  • fewer social workers are entering the workforce, including fewer students completing social work programmes and becoming registered  
  • more social workers are leaving the profession, or indicating their intention to leave 
  • increased demand for a culturally competent, professionally regulated social worker workforce.  

There is no single solution to address this mismatch. Action will be required across the whole system.    

Developing evidence and insights

It’s important that we hear from across the system about what’s happening. We conduct an annual workforce survey, produce an education providers annual report, and have published other findings such as our demand for social workers report.  

These can be found on our publications page.

We are also planning an annual employers’ survey.

How the role was created

 The workforce planning role was assigned to the SWRB by Cabinet and publicly announced by Minister Sepuloni, the Minister for Social Development and Employment, in March 2021.  

The need for a Lead Agency for Social Worker Workforce Planning was in response to a call from the profession, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), and the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC). These groups identified a risk to the sustainability of health and social services due to the absence of strategic oversight of social worker supply and demand.  

The SWRB is well placed to fill the role. It aligns with our purpose as stated in the Social Workers Registration Act 2003 to enhance the professionalism of social workers.