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Scheme cuts drive sector commitment

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It seems that LGC’s recent revelation that there would be significant changes to the National Graduate Development Programme caused quite a stir.

Rob Whiteman, managing director of Local Government Improvement & Development (LGID) which manages the scheme, quickly penned a letter to LGC, at least five different bloggers took to their keyboards and it has even generated its own twitter hashtag #NGDP. See the FutureGov blog here

The level of response shows just how important the sector believes the graduate programme to be. Indeed, reaction to LGID’s conclusion that it can no longer afford to fund the post-graduate diploma component was largely one of excitement at what the scheme could become.

There are also seems to be consensus that the NGDP does need to change, regardless of cost concerns. A programme fit for modern public services must work beyond local government: across the public sector and into the third and private sectors, say many commentators. Many also said one of the biggest benefits of the weekends spent at Warwick Business School was the networking and time to share ideas.

There are also differences of opinion. Does the programme need to retain some kind of academic or theoretical underpinning, even if it is cheaper and unaccredited? How much involvement should LGID have compared to individual councils and external sponsors?

While there has not been outrage at proposed changes, the sector is not unconcerned.

Daniel Ratchford, who manages the NGDP recruitment process for Sutton LBC, was worried that the lack of a post-graduate diploma would put off top quality candidates (but said these fears had been unfounded because this year’s “exceptional” candidates had not been put off). Ex-students, speaking anonymously to LGC, warned the in-house skills training provided by LGID “tended to be poor” and would need to improve.

Futuregov director Dominic Campbell expressed concern LGID might “play safe” and make it smaller and more efficient, but not radically different. Others have spoken of missed opportunities over the past decade.

Dennis Skinner, the LGID associate now leading the radically smaller NGDP team, welcomed such feedback. Indeed, many bloggers and commentators said conversations with the team since LGC’s original story have reassured them about LGID’s commitment to the programme’s future.

Mr Skinner believes the cost issues are “a real opportunity” to change the programme for the better: “We are committed to making it more sustainable but also more exciting and a bit different.”

Scheme cuts drive sector commitment

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