The future is an uncertain in local government.
Every day we hear about the demands on local councils, how residents are relying on us to deliver even more with ever decreasing budgets and how public service delivery is changing.
In order to face this challenge we not only need vibrant, passionate politicians, but we need a local government workforce that is fit for purpose. That’s why the Local Government Association’s National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) is vitally important and why our National Management Trainees (NMTs) and participating councils continue to tell us how valuable the programme is.
With the NGDP going into its 19th year, it’s clear local government continues to be a very attractive career choice for graduates. With massive financial and organisational changes there is greater collaboration with the private and third sectors. Graduates looking to feed both their personal and professional development with an increasing focus on innovation and creativity will now find greater opportunities within the sector.
The figures back this up. Demand for places in our current intake was up 43% from the previous year and up 60% from two years ago. We brought a record number of candidates to interview with local councils earlier in the year. This year we have placed 130 graduates with more than 50 councils from across the length and breadth of the country. In a recent survey, almost 90% of NGDP alumni said their first job after the programme was in a local council. More than 60% of our alumni stay in a local council in the long term, with 63% holding a management position. The majority of those who are currently working in another sector have spent at least five years working in a local council and over half have a desire to re-enter the sector at a later stage of their career. These are figures that any sector would be proud of.
But it’s not just graduates who benefit from the programme. Councils that take on an NMT for the length of the programme have a vital role to play. Not only are they getting access to the brightest and best graduates, but people who have a strong desire to work in local government and who are adaptable, creative thinkers who can come up with new ways of delivering services.
If your council is not involved, I would ask you to consider whether you can afford not to be. I will admit that until I took over as chair of the improvement and innovation board, I was not fully aware of the opportunity my council, Bracknell Forest, was missing. Having found out more, I am now committed to joining the scheme to have at least one and possibly two NMTs next year.
The future of local government and local communities will be shaped by those people at its heart. The NGDP is equipping our workforce with the skills to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Paul Bettison (Con), chair of the LGA’s improvement and innovation board and leader, Bracknell Forrest Council