Karen Camilleri, Sector Lead Transport and Infrastructure at Penna is our guest blogger this week and she gives us a transport recruiter’s perspective on the impact of devolution.

“Increasingly in our engagement with clients we are receiving a wealth of enquiries that are centred around exploring how public sector bodies are going to work through their new devolved responsibilities.

A key challenge we know they face is one of capability and readiness. Having not focused on the delivery of transport services for some time means a distinct lack of skills and gaps in this area. Another area of focus and one that needs to be done right is stakeholder engagement. This is crucial to secure vital funding and revenue streams from Government and other streams and schemes for example in conjunction with local commercial operators, but also with the passengers and users of the service.

Do public sector bodies have enough senior leaders with the strategic skills to inspire and lead their workforce to come up with new ways of working that will engage with their local communities at one level and yet bring in a serious and sustainable revenue streams at another level? Is partnership working across geographical boundaries being encouraged and best practise shared or is this bring done in competition and in silo?

There are many ways this can be addressed: coaching and mentoring can be of great value to upwardly promote and bolster existing teams. There has to be a balance between constantly reaching for outside hires and investing in existing staff.

A common trend that we are seeing is the use of very senior players from the industry who have operated in the commercial transport sector being utilised on a call off contract to support and road test the strategy around devolution and forge relationships with the deliverers of the service.

This resource is being used sparingly and with a view to developing capacity internally within these public service organisations, to boost confidence and to ensure the thinking around strategy is robust. These contracted hires are short term and often part time. At the same time right at the other end of the spectrum we have to ensure we have a pipeline of new entrants into the transport market via the apprenticeship route.

This is a real opportunity for local government and the wider public sector to provide these opportunities in transport to a wider audience from more diverse backgrounds, not just traditional ones, and create a more balanced workforce gleaned from all sorts of backgrounds. To achieve all this they need strong leadership and direction and to start making that happen they need to invest now.”

Karen Camilleri

Sector Lead Transport and Infrastructure at Penna