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MENTOR - MANAGEMENT CLINIC

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Question:...
Question:

I work for a district council in the environment office. It's a nice place to work but I feel the need to stretch my wings. I am interested in the neighbourhood and street scene roles in big city councils that I see advertised in LGC and fancy going for one of them. What skills would I need and what do I need to emphasise I have or can develop if I am moving from the sticks to the big city?

Answer:

A change, said Paddington Bear, is as good as a break. A change in job in local government is not a chance to relax, but is something we all need once in a while. My first reaction is you are approaching this exactly right. Thinking about the skills you have and the skills you want to develop, is how you need to move into the right job. What you need to consider, as well, is what the difference is between the 'sticks' and the 'big city'.

You still occasionally find people in local government - normally who have only worked in unitary areas - who don't understand how two-tier areas work. They see local government as hierarchical, districts serving beneath counties, without understanding the split in functions. The environmental services offered by a district, as opposed to a unitary authority, is a good example.

Districts face nearly all the issues of 'city' authorities and the green agenda is just as important. Districts also deal with deprived communities, inequality and helping those in need.

There are differences, of course. Cities often have concentrations of deprivation, denser communities, more explicit tensions and more diverse populations. But your experience is a boon in dealing with these issues. Focus on what you want to specialise in and emphasise how your wider knowledge and experience will help. Get hold of the job descriptions of those posts and consider what you can offer. Be creative and look at your experience in the round.

Martin Horton

Director, Improvement & Development Agency

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