Hello PPMA members and friends
‘There’s never been a better time to join local government.’
I’d wager that it is a long time since any person reading this has heard someone say that about the working in our sector.
As we look forward to the rest of 2016, which continues to feature many of the same challenges as last year, in the form of attacks on public sector pay, renewed funding squeeze, ongoing and increasing scepticism about the worth of public servants and, of course, job cuts in the sector, there is no doubt that making a case for the merits of working in local government is a tough one.
Yet despite all of these challenges, I think making sure that people understand the real opportunity on offer from each of our organisations in the year ahead, is a critical job for us to focus on.
By 2020, when amongst other things, the full impact of devolution, the integration of health and social care and the cross sector delivery of services has worked its way through, the local authority landscape will have been fundamentally reshaped.
In order for of all of these new moving parts to work effectively we need two things.
- The first is to keep the people whose knowledge and dedication to public service will contribute to new ways of working.
- The second is to attract the new skills and talent we need from outside of public services.
Neither of those will happen unless we take seriously our job of explaining our vision for public services and the place that people and talent will play in taking us forward. That applies to the individual organisations for whom we work and collectively as a sector.
There is no doubt that working in the sector is tough – to say otherwise would be to ignore the pressure faced by front line workers, their managers and senior teams every day.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a great story to tell about the work we are doing – and still need to do – in rewiring the way we work: using people, technology and ideas to organise ourselves and manage services for our communities in different ways.
In fact, I would argue that for people who are genuinely interested in applying their knowledge, developing their skills and making a difference to the organisation they work for, local government is the place with the greatest opportunity.
So, I shall be doing my bit to battle the negative narrative around our sector, to champion the roles we play as public servants in making a difference to people’s lives and in so doing, to engage and enthuse the existing and new workers who are so critical to our future. I hope to see you all alongside me.
Barry Pirie is PPMA President and Associate Director, People and Business at Wiltshire Council