'During the process of modernising local government, there is one important role that never seems to receive much of the limelight and is very much taken for granted. However, it is an essential element in decision-making, and its importance will be enhanced under modernisation as we grapple with the new rules on access to information. I am, of course, referring to those unsung heroes, the committee administrators.
LGNTO recently announced that the National Occupational Standards and Vocational Qualifications Framework for Committee staff have now been approved.
The New Qualifications
The new qualifications will meet all of the requirements that staff and employers have fed into the consultations for the project.
There will be two qualifications. The first is aimed at staff whose primary role is to service committees and provide direct support to elected members. The second is designed for managers or staff with wider responsibility for organising committee administration and member support or co-ordinating the scrutiny function.
The qualifications will comprise two elements - an examination, and work-based assessments - and will cover a wide range of topics including:
* The roles and obligations of elected members and local government officers
* Decision-making structures and processes
* The roles of political parties
The qualifications should be ready to go live this autumn, and the LGNTO is organising a number of regional seminars to raise awareness of the qualifications.
The development of these qualifications has definitely filled a gap in the market, and enables local government to equip its committee administrators with the skills required for modern local government. ACSeS is proud to have been associated with this project, and we will continue to give it our full support.'
* Mr Polychronakis is chief legal and property officer for Dudley MBC.