What better way to end a week of posts reflecting on the wider context for local government than to reflect on the local government workforce? Well, we couldn’t think of anything either, so here goes.
Like many service industries, and indeed like most organisations in existence, local government is almost entirely dependent on the quality of the people who work for it. Whilst it is not universally the case, generally those councils who contain and retain the best staff deliver the best services, and the converse is just as true. This poses the sector a number of inter-related challenges.
Firstly, the local government workforce is getting older and local government has struggled to attract and retain the calibre of new recruits to leave people confident in the future of the industry. On the one hand this has resulted in staff who are increasingly experienced in their field, but of course holds the danger of a potential lack of innovative new ideas coming from people new to the sector.
A key point of ingress for these newcomers has for the last few years been through the NGDP programme. However, it has become clear that this excellent stream of talent appears to have been dammed, with fewer councils taking on graduates as well as investing in their training and development. This short term quest to save a few pennies promises to cost many, many pounds in the future.
Secondly, whilst local government staff are not, relatively speaking, badly paid the recent attacks on the pay and conditions of council workers has damaged morale and has the potential to put people off joining the sector. (more…)