Hello PPMA members and friends

At the end of November our good friends and supporters Commercial Services Group, together with help from us, held a round table event for a discussion around the possible recruitment and retention challenges of the future. CSG have written an initial article about the outcomes from the session with a more detailed synopsis to follow soon. Below is the the first article and we hope that you’ll find it valuable.

We were delighted to hold another roundtable with our partners PPMA following on from London and Manchester earlier this year. Our hosts Sheffield City Council welcomed CSG, APSE and our Chief Executives and Human Resources colleagues from councils across the country to their stunning council buildings in the city centre. Our objective was to take forward some of our discussions exploring what local government can do to raise a more positive profile, attract new candidates particularly the young into the sector and plan for the changes that are undoubtedly coming. We wanted to explore how we could ensure the sector is fit for the future and take advantage of developments such as further automation and AI.

Whilst acknowledging that councils are working hard to fill roles, for many it can feel like an ever-increasing merry-go-round being forced to adopt unsustainable practices simply to fulfil short-term needs. All councils have limited resources therefore the question is how to make the most impact not just for now but to allow for planning for the future. The group saw it incumbent on Human Resources Directors and their teams to look for ways to help break the cycle contributing to this but they need the council to support them. Some of the themes explored included the limitations of the existing recruitment process – post a job and they will come! One colleague challenged that surely this is now a broken model.

The discussion also explored broadening the horizon of both job seekers to consider local government and hiring managers to be open to different types of candidates. Hiring managers find comfort in detailed job descriptions with essential criteria but this often limits the number of likely interested candidates. The group discussed other options such as bringing people into the organisation not necessarily into a fixed role and letting them discover what opportunities were available within the council. This could be a much better way forward and some of our councils are looking to explore this option for certain roles. Innovations in apprenticeships and attracting more graduates were other areas explored in the two-hour discussion.

“There is no doubt that councils face challenges in the recruitment and retention space but it certainly isn’t for a lack of creative ideas and different ways of thinking. We discussed several approaches that can help take councils forward in this competitive environment. It is clear however that CEs and HRDs need the trust and support of their wider teams to try innovative solutions to attract more diverse candidates,” commented Steve Wilson, Commercial Director CSG and facilitator on the day.

Thank you to all our attendees. The roundtable will be written up in full and shared via the PPMA, APSE and CSG. We hope that by supporting these events we help create more opportunities for councils to collaborate, share their experiences and support one another. The role of collaboration specifically and the opportunities to work at regional level were highlighted as something that certainly our attendees were keen to do more of.

We will share the outputs as soon as they are published.