As the challenges we face in public services continue to test our creativity and resilience, we have long known that going it alone is not a viable option.
Increasingly in the sector we are spending more time on issues that require a system response to deliver real impact and help improve the lives of our communities we serve. Sharing examples of what’s working well in this area will help us all.
Last year, senior leaders of Suffolk Police, Suffolk districts and Suffolk CC approved a joint strategic approach to developing future system leaders through the inaugural Suffolk Public Sector Graduate Programme.
The impacts of Brexit are still emerging and early research informs us skills will be in high demand, putting pressure on existing talent with increased emphasis on retention and development of the workforce.
Following a robust assessment in June this year, 11 engaged and motivated graduates joined the sector, each employed by one of the participating partners. A cross-partner group of human resources, organisational development and learning professionals led the design and delivery of the programme. The fundamental element of the two-year programme is a six-monthly rotation into a new placement, which can be with any of the partner organisations.
The graduates will gain a unique perspective as they are able to observe and experience first-hand how the sector works together to deliver our broad range of public services and civic responsibilities.
From the outset, the graduates have been set the challenge of being curious and inquisitive regarding public service delivery. We expect their personal insights and observations to drive improvements in our operations to continuously improve the way we work across the system. The programme includes a range of internally delivered learning experiences, such as discussing leadership and public service delivery with partner leaders, skills development, mentoring from senior leaders and a formal Institute for Leadership and Management qualification, which will be delivered by the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers. This will focus on being a 21st century leader, strategic organisational change and developing a high-performance culture.
We must explore flexible and innovative approaches to resourcing and skill development to ensure we have a pipeline that can fulfil our future leadership requirements.
Our aim is to have equipped 11 talented people with a strong grounding of knowledge, skills and experience to be able to secure future leadership roles within Suffolk public services. We are confident they will rise to the challenges our sector faces head on and create impact in their future leadership roles.
Sue Cook, interim chief executive, Suffolk CC