Posted tagged ‘employment’

Breaking up is hard to do

July 14, 2011

Sometimes breaking up is the right thing to doDear job,

I wanted to put a few things down in words because I’m finding it too difficult to admit them.  Before you read any further, I want you to know that you’ll always have a special place in my heart and have helped me grow so much as a person; for that I will always be grateful.

But we can’t live in the past.  things have moved on, we’ve both changed so much, so it’s with a heavy heart that I have to say that I’m leaving you.

I’ve not found someone else, but I know in my heart that there is the right place for me out there, somewhere which will value me for who and what I am and cherish our time and efforts together.  It might take me a week, it might take me a year, but I’m going to keep looking, trusting in my belief that our paths will cross. (more…)

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Reasons to be cheerful

April 8, 2011

Mr Cheerful says 'Hello'!

Local Government is in a bit of upheaval at the moment (you may have noticed) and this affects every single employee within the public sector. The upheaval can be such that even when you personally survive the mess of it all it still overwhelms you.

Recognising this, today’s post is just a little on the self-indulgent side (sorry about that) as we take a moment to celebrate a few successes for the WLLG team.

So what possible reason do we have to be cheerful? Well…

1)      Most importantly…

Every single member of the WLLG team had to reapply for their own (or a slightly/very different) job. And we all survived!

We all looked redundancy in the face and said ‘not now; we’re way too busy serving the public to be made redundant’.

Redundancy shrugged its shoulders and agreed. In other words we are here to fight another day… and are mighty pleased about it.

2)      This blog has just this week ticked over 40,000 hits. When we started a blog about local government I don’t think any of us could possibly have imagined that level of interest in the rantings and musings of local government officers. (we had 25 hits in the first month… Mainly us!) But, some of you have and we are very grateful to every one of you who has read a post, commented on a post, re-tweeted something we’ve written or just signed up to follow us on twitter. You’re all great.

The level of local government debate out there, away from the cameras and the political posturing, is extremely high and if we have made just a tiny contribution to it, and made a few people smile as well, then we’re very happy indeed.

3)      People actually follow us on twitter!

I never really knew what twitter was for but using it as we have done – to share ideas, thoughts, quips and ramblings about local government – has been a lot of fun and very informative. We’ve all learnt tonnes and enjoyed the chat!

4)      Getting involved in this whole blogging game has opened up a world of very interesting people for us to follow, learn from and debate with. We try to reference the blogs as we go and when we remember do a good ‘follow Friday’ set on twitter so we won’t name them all here but hopefully by now they all know who they are and why we hold them in such high regard.

5)      The clocks went forward and we now leave work in the sunshine!

Happy Friday everyone and thanks again.

Youth, and Local Government, is wasted on the young – Part 2

November 23, 2010

Young vs old, who will win? There's only one way to find out.....

Regular readers will no doubt have read a piece by a co-blogger last week, which made the point that local government is dominated by old people and that younger, more energetic and less fearful staff find it too difficult to get in on the action.  Of particular note were graduates, those shining stars who are destined for greatness and deserve every bit of help they can get in order to get there sooner rather than later.

Now, football and politics aside, the two of us very rarely disagree too much (although their positive take on their team’s young players will forever be a bone of contention).  However, the subject of the need for youth to triumph over experience is one on which we agree to disagree.

I feel I need to make my own position clear here, to give a little context to my comments.  I left school at 16 with some GCSEs and a few contacts, and then spent the next decade and a half slowly climbing my way up the greasy pole.  Not because I feel the burning need for power or authority, just that I’ve been in the right place at the right time on a few occasions.  I’m not at the top (far from it), but am keeping my annual salary above my age which is all I ever hope to do.

During that time I’ve worked with colleagues old and young, competent and, well, less so.  On one score I do agree that some of the brightest and best of these have been those taking part in the various graduate schemes in place (and there are a few).  However, these have not been universally great; in fact, along with some of the best, I’ve also encountered some of the worst, most over-paid, over-trained and under-skilled individuals in local government.

My major gripe is the opinion that these individuals have had, that by the sheer fact that they went to university that they are better than their peers and are owed position, power, authority and respect.  The fact that they know how to pass a course and have letters after their name has given them a degree of arrogance I’ve not seen since Cristiano Ronaldo made his way overseas.

Before I provoke cries of outrage and righteous indignation, I want to be very clear; these are in the minority.  As I said, most of these graduate have been good to excellent, although in my opinion a fair number of them are no better or worse than other colleagues who have spent the same amount of time they were studying for in a local authority.  In place of theory is practical knowledge, in place of process and best practice is experience and the knowledge of how to get things done.

In an ideal world, these graduates and other youngsters would be able to come into teams and make all of the changes necessary to turn an average service into an exceptional one.  We do not, however, inhabit such a world.  Newcomers to a team – whether they are fresh out of university or simply joining the sector for the first time – have very little practical history to draw upon, and have ideas and plans which simply will not survive the day to day grind.

Those who have been at the coal face for an extensive period of time do have such experience to draw upon, and do so on a constant basis.  These are the people who are risk averse, which is not the negative word many people describe it as; whilst little real progress is made neither are serious mistakes.  Local government is not the private sector, where the worst that happens is that a company goes bust; vulnerable people’s lives and wellbeing is at stake.  If a company doesn’t deliver its services then customers up sticks and go somewhere else to get what they want; if the public sector doesn’t deliver good enough services people have nowhere else to go and the service itself will still have to struggle through.

I’m not saying new people with fresh ideas and impetuous aren’t more than useful and more than needed.  The downside of having a bunch of people who always do things the same way is that you’ll always get the same results, and there is certainly a high degree of cynicism and negativity that can build up.  However, I think youth and vibrancy needs to be tempered and guided by those who have been there and seen all of the things being suggested tried and fail before.  The lessons learnt by doing rather than by reading about doing are invaluable, and need to be retained and valued lest we all make the same mistakes time and again.

There is also the question of appropriate positions for these graduates, who thanks to the knowledge they have worked hard to amass usually feel they should enter the workplace proper in the lower to middle management jobs.  As someone who had to work for years to get to where I am I can honestly say that there is nothing more frustrating than seeing jobs at your own and higher levels going to those with practically no experience under their belts but as many letters after their name as a man with a delayed stutter.  If they are really that much better than me then fine; experience has shown me though  that sometimes this isn’t the case.  I’m not saying I’m that good, but neither are they.

In my service area the average age is around 35, with a disproportionate number of graduates balancing out a few individuals who got their first contracts counter-signed by Churchill.  In my mind I want to see that balance maintained at all costs.  I want to see new, young, fresh graduates wanting to be part of local government and wanting to make it better, but not at the cost of those who have been doing just that for decades.

I’ll finish with a few words that might explain where I’m coming from far better than the previous few paragraphs:

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember; I do and I understand

Youth, and Local Government, is wasted on the young – Part 1

November 18, 2010

Would she want a job in Local Government?

At Welovelocalgovernment we have a mix of professions and backgrounds. Therefore, when one of us suggested writing a piece about the plight of young people in the local government workforce we decided to do it in two bits; part 1 about young people with a graduate background and part 2 about young people without a graduate background. This is Part 1.

 

I had a meeting with someone in HR the other day (unfortunately, meetings with HR nowadays tend to involve discussing the redundancy process) but before I left we had a brief chat about the age profile of local authorities.

There may be some exceptions but in my experience local authorities seem to be populated by those of us firmly rooted in middle age, if not slightly slipping into the ‘wise elder’ category. It makes me wonder how they all got here; surely these people were young once? If not, when did they join Local Government?

The central civil services certainly does not have this problem; the Fast Stream is almost famous in terms of a graduate scheme and brings through a steady stream of excellent university students, gives them five years protected tenure within the Civil Service and then lets them loose within the higher levels of the civil service. As I understand it the fast stream brings in at least 500 graduates per year who can then work their way through the management grades.

(more…)

The Architect builds my anger up

November 17, 2010

Et tu, Architect?!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog piece which introduced you all to a semi-colleague who took credit for an excellent piece of work under false pretences.  Well, I am now able to bring you round two of the saga.

Before I go any further I want to say that this is not meant to be a blog about venting personal grievances.  I will not name them, no matter what the bribe is, and will try not to get too worked up about the whole thing.  I’ve chosen to write about it and share because I get the ever growing impression that this is becoming less and less an isolated incident in the public sector, which worries me.

As regular readers will know, there are many restructures happening in local government at the moment due to the Comprehensive Spending Review, one of which I am now part of.  The work I am responsible for and have been delivering with the help of an excellent team is moving over to another service area entirely, and I am the only one of my team who has been given the chance to follow it.

So, to keep it simple I am eligible to apply to do my job, as are six others from other parts of the council (it’s a big restructure).  All of these have rightful claims to the job and have dealt with the issue in an amicable (if slightly strained) way.

The last person up for it is our friend, The Architect (whose moniker I shall henceforth jargonise to TA).  As you may recall, TA has been on secondment to central government for some time, and wanted to stay there permanently.  We  were all recently sent the proposals for our restructure, and have been invited to make our comments. (more…)

The most money ever paid for a cow in an auction was $1.3 million

November 2, 2010

Will we all be over educated yet unemployed?

In a previous life I was a yoot worker (we all talked like that in order to be down ‘wiv da kidz, innit’).  In between dealing with some kids stabbing each other and others crying in a corner because nobody understood them (both true, not stereotypes – I promise!), I developed and delivered training courses.  These were great fun, really well received by participants and schools and youth clubs couldn’t get enough of them.

That is, until I had enough of delivering them.  You see, whilst the courses were very good (even if I do say so myself), taught a range of valuable and useful skills and were accredited, all too often I would find that I had trained groups of young people up only to see them have nowhere to go and no way of using these new skills.  The youth clubs and services weren’t ready to do anything with them, which created a lot of frustration within those groups and undid a lot of the work I’d gone through.

Fast forward this ten or fifteen years and I’m drawing a lot of parallels in my colleagues.  Okay, maybe not the crying and stabbing (although there is always a little of both going on somewhere in the building), but I’m definitely seeing people getting ready to dive back into training and education with no thought about what after that.

Many of my colleagues are taking the cuts as an opportunity to go off for a while and do something they’ve wanted to do but had no reason to.  The always excellent Redundant Public Sector Worker was musing setting up their own business, Citizenr also took a look at a few options from the X-Factor to being the next Charlie Dimmock.  Both of these are thinking of some (more or less) practical solutions that will support them in the longer as well as medium term should they come off (good luck both by the way!). (more…)