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Merton set to launch own graduate scheme

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Merton LBC intends to set up its own graduate scheme because numbers on the National Graduate Development Scheme are too limited, the authority’s transformation director has said.

Chris Pope, who developed Laing O’Rourke’s graduate scheme before he joined Merton, said the national programme, run by the Improvement and Development Agency, is “not big enough”.

Mr Pope’s plan involves the possibility of working with Sutton LBC, with whom Merton shares a human resources function. It would offer 10 to 20 graduates places on a two-year scheme, which would include four six-month placements in a variety of roles across professions and specialist areas, and result in accredited qualifications.

The scheme, Mr Pope said, would help to “break down silos” and the outcome would be a better understanding of the council.

Other London authorities, such as Haringey LBC, have their own graduate programmes. Newham LBC runs a separate scheme with the University of East Anglia.

Mr Pope also called for councils to work together in training middle managers. “It costs a lot because we are doing it piecemeal,” he said.

London’s improvement partnership Capital Ambition has already put together one management training framework called the ‘service transformation academy’ and predicts more joint purchasing in the future.

“Whatever the funding situation, we are still going to need good quality people,” said director Steve Johnson.

Richard Masters, IDeA’s leadership programme manager, welcomed Merton’s plans. “There is a mixed economy and that is a real strength,” he said

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