Hello PPMA members and friends

Our guest blogger this week is Sarah Messenger, Head of  Workforce at LGA and she talks about the challenges that she sees ahead for local governement and the public sector at large.

The funding challenges facing local government are well-documented and have stimulated an intense and realistic debate about the future of councils and the workforce that will provide the services that are required. The simple fact is that there will be less money while demand for services continues to rise. This raises questions for all of us, both nationally and locally, about the very nature and purpose of councils. Everybody I talk to agrees that significant reform of councils will be the only answer but there is no consensus as yet about what that reform will look like and what implications it will have for the workforce. Of course this is partly because solutions will vary from council to council because of each council’s unique set of circumstances, priorities and options. But it is also indicative of how hard this agenda really is – we all know things will have to change but no-one is entirely sure of when and how. That said, I know many HR colleagues who are energised by the scale of the challenge and recognise that if we can’t implement sustainable change now, we will regret the lost opportunity for a very long time.

Naturally, a radical shift in how councils design and deliver their services will impact significantly on how we employ, organise and manage our staff. We can foresee that in the councils of the future, managers will be dealing with the practical and emotional challenges of managing new professions and new skill-sets, in a multi-discipline, multi-agency environment. Such changes will generate many new tensions and opportunities for councils in ensuring they have the right leadership skills, innovative approaches to talent management, workforce planning and recruitment and retention and that their reward strategies are fair, transparent and creative.

The LGA recognises the important role we play in stimulating debate within and beyond the sector, advocating for the unique role of councils with their democratic mandate to shape and drive public service provision in their localities and to provide a range of creative and inventive advice, research and support to support councils in identifying the solutions that will work best for them. These include working with the PPMA on a workforce planning self-assessment tool and researching core leadership competencies for local government managers with SOLACE. If you want to get involved in this project you can contact Andreas Ghosh, Workforce Strategy Lead at [email protected]

We are also particularly keen that people from organisations outside of local government also get involved in the project. The need to consider the shape of our organisations and the workforce we will need in the future, is common across public services. We want the output from the project to be relevant to all parts of the public sector, but we need input from a broad range of organisations and individuals to make this possible.

Below is a short video, where we talk in more detail about what lies ahead.

Sarah Messenger

Head of Workforce, LGA