Working in Local Government, 6 October 2021 recording

In this workshop, Anna from the NGDP recruitment team gave an introduction to what you could expect from the NGDP as a way of kick-starting your career in local government. She was also joined by a panel of NGDP trainees who shared their insights of what it’s like to work at a local council as part of the scheme.

Transcript

Moderator: Great, thanks. So, welcome to today's webinar. We've begun the recording and so we'll now begin. If you're joining us as we come along then please do just keep your microphone on mute and we'll hold questions until the end, thank you. So, my name is Anna Buttenshaw, I'm an advisor in the Local Government Association. That is a very generic job title, what I actually do is I work on the National Graduate Development Programme for local government and I have done so for a number of years now. And I'm joined today by Irfan, Reisha and Emily who you'll all see down the side and who are all current trainees on the National Graduate Development Programme. So, what are we covering this morning? For our agenda, I'm going to take us quickly through a little background about what local government actually is. Before I started working at the local government association, my knowledge of local government was pretty much limited to the bins and parking fines. So, if that's you, no worries, we'll take you through a little bit of an overview of all the things that local government does. We'll then talk a little bit about what the NGDP is, that's our fast track graduate programme. And then, we'll go into the really interesting bit which is a panel discussion with our current trainees talking about the roles that they've held in local government and the roles that are available for other graduates who are coming into the public sector as part of the NGDP and, and maybe even beyond that. So, I think that's gonna be the most interesting part of our webinar today and we'll leave lots of time for questions at the end, for myself or for members of the panel. So, what is local government? Local government is led by elected councillors, and this is something I think sometimes we can miss. If you're anything like me at election time, sometimes there's a lot of literature coming through the door, but a lot of that is really important. 
 
So, your local council is elected by a range of-, by everyone in your borough electing a range of individuals who set the direction for the council, and sitting behind those elected officials are officers, so those are management professionals and people in a range of careers who are actually in charge of delivering the council's services, and that's where we're really pivoting today. There's about a million people working in local government in England and Wales which is an absolutely enormous number and that's split between-, there are about almost 350 councils in England alone, so a huge range of employers and a huge diversity of types of councils and organisations within that broad remit of local government. Local councils provide more than 800 different services, so like I said at the beginning, if you're coming to local government thinking that it's all about bins and parking fines, maybe potholes, then there are about 799 other services that local councils also provide and we'll be getting into a little bit more about those as we go on. So, listed on your screen here are just a few examples of the areas that our local councils cover. So, adult and children's social care is an absolutely enormous area for local councils and I know it's one that graduates are often really interested in and passionate about, the ways that our local communities care for and serve some of our most vulnerable residents. Issues like homelessness and environmental health are huge and very topical at the moment. Local councils determine their own policies so there's a huge amount of policy work that happens within the local government framework. There's topics like regeneration of specific areas, of housing, of businesses, it's such a broad remit in and of itself. Topics such as domestic violence, crime reduction and prevention, public health. 
 
Of course, as a large organisation, councils run their own comms, media and press work. They have HR and finance teams. They're really actively involved in the economic development of their area and things like creating a green economy. So that's just-,, even within those 800 services, that's just a tiny little picture of the range of work that local councils are responsible for delivering. So, what is the NGDP? Well, hopefully, if you've joined us today you might have a bit of an idea already, and if you do, apologies if I'm going over anything that you already know. But, the NGDP was set up about twenty years ago as a fast-track option for graduates who are really passionate about making a difference in the public sector to be able to come into a local council and immediately begin accessing management-level job opportunities, and also training and development. So, once on the scheme, our graduate trainees will be given a two-year minimum contract with a local council. We partner with between 50 and 60 different local councils every year, so there's a huge range in terms of geographical spread and types of organisations, depending on where you're interested in living and working. In that one council then you will complete a minimum of three different placements, so that's on a rotation of maybe every six months or so, councils tend to be a little different, usually quite flexible about this based on what the projects are. And the idea is you're given a range of experiences across a range of council services, so that is a really important part of the programme in terms of equipping you to step into management-level careers because you're building a really broad level of experience in a short period of time really. And we've got a starting salary of just under 26k and that should rise over the two years of the programme at annual increments. 
 
That sum is also exclusive of a London weighting, so if you're employed by an inner or outer London borough, there would be an additional salary amount on top of that. It varies by council but it's usually £3000-4000 for an inner London authority on top of the baseline salary, but you can find more information about that on our website or by dropping us an email if it's something that you are concerned about. So, as I said, we've got over 50 partner councils, I think last year we worked with almost 70, so there is a bit of a variety on the scheme, and if we've got questions about how exactly that allocation process works I can maybe take those at the end, but you do have input as to where you're interested in going. Successful placement does pend an interview and a job offer from the council, and so it is a two-way process, but we do definitely take your views into consideration of where you'd like to live and work. And another really important part of our programme is a fully-funded learning and development programme that sits alongside the work experience that you gain on the scheme, and that programme includes knowledge which is really specific to local government, so we're not expecting you to come with a full knowledge of the sector and all it involves in all 800 of those different services. You'll have training in local government finance, in different types of local councils, so there's a lot of knowledge that's passed on to you about that. And then, there is a specific leadership and management qualification, an ILM Level 7 certificate process that you'll go through, and that's really specific management training, which is delivered and you'll complete work-based assignments as part of that qualification. 
 
They are such a fantastic way of giving you additional opportunities in the workplace to build up your CV, and help you to finish the programme and progress directly into a management-level position within the organisation. So, that's the goal of this scheme and the rough setup of it and, as I say, I can take specific questions about that at the end if you've got any. So, now let's jump into the really interesting bit of today's webinar, which is a bit of a chat with our three volunteers. So, why don't we start by each of you giving a little introduction to yourselves and where you're currently based, if you're happy to do so? So, Irfan, can we come to you first? 

M: Yes, that's absolutely fine, thank you, Anna. So, my name is Irfan and as you can see on the-, on the slide I'm based at the London Borough of Redbridge which is in East London and just borders Essex, so that's me. 

Moderator: Fab. Reisha? 

F: Hi, everyone, I'm Reisha, and, yeah, like the slide says, I'm based in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and I'm exactly one year into the grad scheme basically this week, so yes. 

Moderator: Fab. And, Emily? 

F: Hi, everyone, I'm Emily. Yes, I'm based at Doncaster Council which is in South Yorkshire and, yes, I'm also just completing my first year of the scheme and I've got another year to go. 

Moderator: Fab, that's great. So, local government, first impressions. Now, this should be your first impression of starting to work in local government or what your first impression of what local government was when you came across the NGDP and you were thinking of applying. So, anything goes here. Emily, do you want to kick us off? 

F: Yeah, sure. I think this theme has already been touched on from what you've said previously in this presentation, but I think I didn't realise the scope of all the different things that local government gets involved with. So, really you could have such a varied career for a lifetime of a career just within local council, working within different teams. So, the placements I've already had have been very varied already and if I continue to have that career through local government, I'm sure I'll get all that varied experience again going through. So, yeah, it's really rewarding from that perspective. 

Moderator: Sure. Reisha, how about you? 

F: Similar to Emily really, I think, like, when I first started, and, you know, throughout the application process as well, like, local government was this, like, huge umbrella term that I didn't really know what it encompassed, and, like, it just seemed like a big, like, abstract concept. But, you know, having worked in the council for a year now and having a sense of, like, local government across the country, it's actually far more, like, localised than you ever think it could be. I, sort of, thought it would be more general than it actually is but it, it really is all about, like, the people of the borough that you work in, which is the best part of it in my opinion. 

Moderator: Fab, that's great. And, Irfan? 

M: Yeah, thanks, Anna. I think before I joined, like you mentioned at the beginning, I would think of stuff like waste collection, housing, elections when they came around, the, sort of, local elections. But, I'm really happy you touched upon the, the important point of, of councillors and, and, and, sort of, local democracy because when I started local government at the start of my few placements, I understood the, kind of, impact that councillors and cabinet members had on some of the policy decisions made in the council. And I think from an outside perspective you don't understand the political make-up of a council, but actually it is really influential. So, that for me was a first impression inside the council was the importance of that political make-up, so I think that was a really important point that's really important for everyone to understand. 

Moderator: Fab, thanks, guys. So, my next question. What was your first placement like? So, when you started out on the scheme what was your, sort of, introduction to working life like on the programme? And if you like, I know that Emily and I spoke in advance about if you wanted to talk about one of your other placements, if that was something you were really passionate about, instead then-, just to give people who are listening in a flavour of what your day-to-day could look like in this big, generic umbrella term, like you said, Reisha, of, 'Local government,' what does that mean on a Monday to Friday basis for you? And, yeah, Reisha, do you wanna kick us off? 

F: I can kick off. I went classic with my first placement, and I had a role in children's services strategy and policy for the first six months. So, the strategy and policy with children's services to me felt like the hub of children's services. Children's services do a lot, there are social workers who work, work on the front line, there are people that talk to schools, people that talk to nurseries, people that are working with vulnerable families, people that are working with children with special educational needs, and strategy and policy really sits at, like, the hub of all of that. In my role particularly, I, sort of, reviewed some of the strategies that were already in place, I was, sort of, looking at, a year in, how well were we doing against our targets? What had actually been done? And then, like, writing a document to, like, present that back in a useful way, and, like, how to take the policy going forward. I think strategy and policy was a really interesting place to work for a lot of reasons, but it really gave you, like, it gave me a good oversight of all the different bits that were going on. And while I didn't, like, get, you know, really deep into any of the particular areas of work, which I have had the chance to do in my second placement, it was a really good chance to see how, like, the office function of a council works and how, actually, people with skills in writing, and research, and analysis and things like that are, like, as essential as all the other bits. And, yeah, just as well, like, I got to look at some internal strategies as well, so that was really interesting for, like, learning about how the council works as I started working at the council. 

Moderator: Fab, that's so fascinating to hear and I love that you've pulled out automatically some of those skills which we see as the carry-over skills from your university study and, sort of, writing skills and research skills which, when you're at university everyone tells you are your transferable skills, and then-, and then suddenly you think, 'But, how?' And what a fantastic example of how those skills come into play in the workplace, so really interesting. Irfan, do you want to tell us a bit about your first placement? 

M: Yeah, so, of course, so my first placement was in-, was in media and communications so I went straight into the COVID-19 response, actually, as an introduction to the NGDP. So, admittedly, it was an intense, kind of, intro to, to how local government functioned but it, sort of, taught me a lot about how communications and media is the result of the organisation, kind of, working together. And even though we sat under strategy as a team, we had to work across the whole organisation with public health, with the team that were helping to, to shield our, our vulnerable residents, and what-not, with our test-and-trace team, to ensure that we were communicating really key, sort of, messages to loads of stakeholders including residents, but also councillors, our internal staff across the council as well. So, it was a massive, kind of, like, responsibility, I'd say, on my, sort of, shoulders, kind of, that, that perspective of, like, things that I was doing could potentially save a life, like, you know, when you're informing people of non-pharmaceutical interventions of how to keep safe and how to stop the spread of the virus, understanding the impact of your messaging and how, how you wrote a message was really impactful. And so, that was amazing and I got opportunities to lead on, like, exciting projects for the vaccinations roll-out where we did a public meeting with our, our, our council and we, we invited local health partners, so, so local GPs, local chief medical officers to speak about the vaccine and its safety and its effectiveness and to answer residents' questions. So, comms is a really exciting place to be 'cause you understand the council, you understand your, your residents the, kind of, like, profile of your, sort of, residents and you do, kind of, increase your emotional resilience, I think, because it can be a really fast-paced environment. 

Moderator: Well, that sounds fantastic and, and very similar to Irfan's story, we-, lots of trainees I think in your year group coming in were, sort of, pulled into COVID-19-related projects were they were put into quite an intense environment straight away with a lot of responsibility, but I've heard some absolutely amazing stories about the impact that that work has had. So, absolutely, absolutely fantastic. Emily, coming to you, your, your first placement or if you wanna talk a little bit about what you're doing at the moment, then anything goes. 

F: Yeah, I'll talk a little bit about my first placement. So, my first placement was a six-month placement and it was in the communities team. And I worked on quite a few different things, the two main things being the safer streets fund, which is a chunk of money that's come from the Home Office through the Police Crime Commissioner, and it was about crime, trying to implement things to reduce crime in a specific area of Doncaster, and then the other one was looking at refugee resettlement projects including the Afghan relocation and assistance programme. So, two quite different projects, so I already got so much experience in such a short space of time within that six months. And it's really hard to say exactly what my day-to-day stuff was because I was doing something different all the time, there was no two days that were the same. But, it involved a lot of liaising with teams within the council and also authorities outside of the council, so the Home Office, Police Crime Commissioner, Migration Yorkshire, the police, the Refugee Council, so loads of different organisations that you got the chance to work with and get that experience of as well. And then, it also involved little bits like I did a bit of comms work as well, I designed a leaflet that was going out to the area that was benefiting from the safer streets fund, to let them know, you know, 'These are the changes that are being made, here's how you can have your say,' and things like that. So, it was, like, it was so varied that you ended up doing all these little bits and pieces. And it was quite flexible as well in that initially I was only supposed to be doing the safer streets fund work and then I saw that this refugee work was going on, and said, you know, 'I've got an interest in that, that sounds great, how can I get involved?' and then ended up getting quite heavily involved in that as well. So, yeah, a lot of-, a lot of great experience very quickly. 

Moderator: Yeah, fantastic, and I love how you've highlighted it-, highlighted Emily, how in such a huge number of council roles it involves working, sort of, across the, the public sector, the voluntary sector, into the private sector, there's so many partnerships and different people to work with, and so such an amazing representation of the diversity of work. And, you know, stories like Emily's of graduates who are on the programme seeing an opportunity come up that they're interested in, it might not be exactly what they're working on at the moment, but councils are usually very accommodating in saying, 'That's great you've shown an interest, of course, let's bring it into your workstream.' That's a really common experience on the graduate programme and I think gives people the ability to begin defining your career as you go, because it's really hard, isn't it? When you're, sort of, starting out, you might not know everything the council does, how do you know exactly where you want to work? But there is a lot of that flexibility as you go through the programme. What would you say, and tricky question, is the most meaningful or impactful project or service that you've worked on to date? So, I don't know if you want to start us out, Emily? It sounds like you had a really-, a really intense experience with the Afghan resettlement scheme, would you say that that's the one for you or is it something you've worked on more recently? 

F: That, although that obviously is, it's very impactful and I think everybody will have seen in the news how important that work was, and how important it was to implement everything as quickly and as safely as possible. But, if you don't mind I'll give another example just to give more examples of the kind of work that I've done. My second placement was in public health and I led on the re-commissioning of a service in Doncaster called, called, 'Healthy living for ethnic minority women in Doncaster.' And I was a bit apprehensive at first when I was given this piece of work, because I thought, 'Am I really, as a white woman, the right person to, to lead on this?' But, it gave me even more of a, a push than I already would have had to make sure that this was, sort of, co-developed from the-, from the perspective of the women who were going to be benefiting from this service. So, it did give me the opportunity to go out and speak directly to women who've benefited from the service previously, and women who are from communities who haven't yet engaged with the service but we were hoping to allow them to engage with it in the future. So, that was the most rewarding experience for me, to go out-, actually go out there and listen to women's experiences and see how they've had this tangible positive impact from something that the council's implemented and also hear from them exactly how they would like the service to be shaped and then be able to make that happen for them and develop that service specification to make sure it was covering their needs and wants for how the service was gonna improve in the future. So, yeah, just getting that tangible experience of exactly how it, it really-, the work that you do really can change people's lives for the better. 

Moderator: Yeah, what a great example, and I think this can be a really defining feature of the NGDP versus perhaps other public sector initiatives where you might be asked to either just do the practical day-to-day job of being a teacher or a social worker, or perhaps something like the civil service where you're several steps away from that immediate tangible impact. Our scheme does deliver you, if I can boast a little bit, the opportunity to do both the policy, to design the service, and to implement it, and to see that tangible impact, so what a great example. Irfan, do you want to go next? 

M: Yeah, that's absolutely fine, thanks, Anna. I actually smiled when Emily mentioned public health 'cause my example is also from that team 'cause that was also my second placement, but it is a different area of public health so hopefully, it gives you some different type of insight. In general, the past year, outside of COVID-19, has highlighted other health areas as well, because we know that co-morbidities and other pre-existing health conditions had a big impact in the pandemic. So, the area that I was given responsibility on in my public health placement was tobacco control. So, as we know, not just smoking but the use of illicit tobacco and tobacco in general is one of the largest killers in, in, in the country, if you check the NHS records, it will also say that. So, I was-, I was-, I was given a good level of responsibility to help to start to create a strategy for tobacco control, which was-, they had one in place from 2017 but after the pandemic, there was so much-, so much more information had come to light about inequalities in the borough and, and the use of illicit tobacco, and attitudes towards smoking, and stuff like that. So, my, kind of, responsibility was to, to, to, to start the backbone of the strategy, was to do some literature review, do some research, which doesn't sound exciting at first. But, you know, when you-, when you use different, kind of-, public health is about using an evidence-based approach and, and, and using sources like Public Health England Fingertips and NHS Digital and other credible sources, I was able to create a portfolio of Redbridge and tobacco control, and, and kind of, look at which wards were the worst affected, which wards had the highest smoking prevalence, is there a correlation between, between levels of, of deprivation and smoking prevalence? And there was, there were all these correlations. 
 
And so, once that, sort of, research was complete, I had done a summary of the local data, I then started on a-, on a mapping exercise. Like Emily mentioned with the re-commissioning process in her area, it, it, it, sort of, involved speaking to the community and speaking to stakeholders, and that's also what I did. Although it was all virtual, it was, sort of, interesting to speak to health partners in hospitals, GPs, our commission service as well, the, the local maternity ward, who also delivered some smoking interventions. And so, just bringing all of these stakeholders together and just showing them the data first of all, and asking them, 'What are your problems and how can-, how can we as a council shape the strategy to help you?' So then, at the end of, of, of my placement, which was this week, we've commenced a working group, which was my target at the start of the placement, so I'm really happy I was able to deliver on that. And so, the conversation's started now, the strategy's in place, they're gonna start to, like, develop it and hopefully by next year, launch it. So, I was just really happy at the level of, like, responsibility given in a very important area in public health. 

Moderator: Amazing, and congratulations on hitting your target at the end of your placement. I mean, it's fascinating, as you were talking, so for those of you on the call maybe some of you were at our situational judgement workshop on Monday gone. If you missed it, it will be transcribed and uploaded to our website soon, and we're having another one on the 20th of October, but one of the practice questions that we use to help people prepare for our situational judgement test is around working with council partners to get accurate data. And what a brilliant example of how important data analysis can be in terms of delivering a real project with real impact for the community. So, yeah, absolutely, absolutely fantastic. Reisha, onto you. 

F: So, I definitely, like, I mean, both of your projects sound amazing, Emily, I definitely wanna learn more about that. But I'd, sort of, like to endorse everything that's been said about, like, local government and councils being a place where you can make a tangible impact, like, something tangible was probably the most important thing for me about coming onto this scheme, and I definitely feel like I've made the right decision. So, my example of impactful work has been from my second and current placement, which is in the growth and delivery team in planning. I chose planning as, fully, like, a wildcard option, I was like, I wanna try something different, might as well just see how it goes and if I don't really like it then at least I'll learn something new. But I've learnt that, like, place-based work is absolutely fascinating, and it's a really great way to, like, directly engage with the community, which is been, like, really meaningful for me, and, like, really impactful for them I think, at least I hope. So, what that actually means is, like, building places is, like, literally looking at areas in the borough where we could deliver affordable housing or we could deliver places for older people to live in and have, like, a half-care, half-independent living option, things like high streets and town centres and how the future of them are going. And so, like, at every point in the project we've spoken to the community through virtual workshops, we're moving back to in-person workshops, we've launched online platforms, including one that's, like, a short survey, kind of, interface, or one that was more, like, a virtual room to recreate that virtual-, that, like, real-life experience of going around and looking at pictures and maps that we couldn't do through COVID. 
 
And, like, for me that's been really-, for me, that feels very impactful, because it is us talking to the community about building spaces that physically exist and affect their lives in the future. It's the streets they walk down, the buildings they walk into, the, like, borough they open their curtains to in the morning. So, that's been really great. And then another, slightly smaller and not placement-based thing that I've done, I know loads of grads across the country have got involved with, is, I worked as a-, what was it called? An elections officer for the local government elections, and I think working in the polling station was really, like-, felt really meaningful because you were, like, essentially supporting people exercise their right to democracy. I wasn't involved in any of the work in, like, incentivising people to come and vote, but in the part of the borough where I was based, so many people didn't have English as a first language or it was their first time voting, or they'd hadn't, like, been anywhere in person because of the time when the elections were and, like, coinciding with COVID restrictions being lifted. So, it felt really meaningful to, like, support people through that process and help them, like, again, shape the future of their borough. 

Moderator: Amazing, and what a great way to show that planning is one of those words isn't it, that when it comes up you just feel like maybe you, like, wanna fall asleep and have a little nap. But actually it's absolutely fascinating and deeply meaningful area of work. So, absolutely brilliant there. This is a question, yeah, maybe a little bit of a thinking pause, but when-, for those who are listening in and thinking of maybe joining the public sector, joining a local council and what their career could look like over the next, kind of, five to ten years. Maybe starting with yourself as a starting point, where you see your career going in the next five to ten years, but also just generally, what roles do you see local government will creating that today's graduates will be taking on in the next five to ten years? And I'm really thinking of some management roles and maybe in specific subject areas or types of roles, from working in a local council for a year or two, what's your feel of, kind of, what's coming in the job market for people interested in these types of management careers? I don't know who wants to start us off, maybe one of you wants to be brave and come off mute for this one? Yeah, Reisha, I think you're still off mute so by merit you're up first. 

F: Great. It's a bit cliché, but I, kind of, feel like anything is probably the answer. I think, like, the local government, like, the NGDP sorry, is a programme that, like, allows you to see the absolute range of, like, talent, skill and knowledge that exists within one council. Like, I remember hearing my manager say, like, 'You can want to do something and go to any part of the council and have the entire skillset to be able to do it, whether that be data management, community engagement, comms, like, (inaudible 33.35) act on,' there's so much that you can do. And in terms of, like, my career coming off the grad scheme and the, like, next five to ten years, like Anna said, there's loads of, like, management opportunities and I think it really sets you up well for the future. You've had the range of, like, knowledge bases and directorates and service areas. I mean, I could not name the 800 and I don't think anyone would, like, be able to, let-, like, just including chief execs. But it gives you a really broad range of the variety that's out there, and then allows you to, like, take the skills that you've learnt, develop them, like, every single day as you go, which really sets you up to be, like, in a higher position in the future. 

Moderator: Fantastic. Irfin (ph 34.20), so you want to go next? 

M: Yeah of course, thank you. So, I thought I would just say that, in the next five to ten years, if you decide, like, like Reisha said, you have the opportunity to scope in your, sort of-, in your choice of placements, and if you then decide then, 'Okay, I really like this area,' you can choose to specialise in certain areas, so. But I think one key important thing about specialising in areas in local government is that you'd still be working across the council, and so this whole notion of that first question about what is local government, you'll realise that whatever you-, like, if you do specialise in, like, some of these areas that I'll mention now, you'll still be working across different teams in the council. So, I'll start with public health as that's, that's all I've spoken about today it seems. You, you-, so, you can become a public health consultant, that's a management position, so you-, there's the FPH which is the faculty of public health, have a local government and, sort of-, so, so you can work across the NHS local government and the civil service, and become a public heath consultant after you get years of experience. And that way you can work across councils in public health teams. 
 
You can become a business intelligence specialist if you like looking at data and you like looking at behavioural science and how communities behave. But even in that role you're working across council teams as well. You can specialise in IT, I know there's a big, big rise in IT roles and everything recently, as different directorates are looking at how to revise their, kind of, services to become more digital, to become more digitally inclusive, and that's the whole digital world as well, that's increasing in job roles as well. And there's also, like Reisha said, planning is massive, and planning is an area where a lot of people specialise, that is-, for me, it's the heart of local government. But just to say that within all of these specialisms, you have to appreciate how local government functions holistically, and that's what the NGDP will do before you take that step after the scheme, if that makes sense? 

Moderator: Yeah, fantastic. Emily, what are your thoughts? 

F: So, I think there's already been that, kind of-, it's been explained that there's so many different things that are constantly working, working together in so many different areas. But I think in terms of career trajectory, the NGDP is such an amazing place to start for your career, because it really focuses on, sort of, building future leaders. So, wherever you want to go, they will build up those skills and you have the opportunity to build up those skills, and you get such a broad range of experience in different areas that you're not-, you can specialise, if you've got something in particular that you want to do, but then you also don't have to do that. It's not necessarily to know exactly where you want to end up before you start. You can just start and figure it out as you're going along. And I think local governments really value graduates coming into local government as well, that don't necessarily have any experience of local government because they get that, kind of, outside perspective, that they really value. And you can bring new ideas to the table, and you also-, through the scheme it really opens doors and you get that opportunity to really engage with senior leaders within your council. So, not only may you have these new ideas and new perspectives, you also have the opportunity to share those with people that could really start to implement or take on board those ideas as well. So, yeah, it's just a really good start to your career. 

Moderator: Oh, fantastic. And Emily you've actually brought up a point which I should've mentioned at the beginning, which is just to emphasise that we are a generalist scheme. So, we are not-, although we ask what you studied when you're filling in your application, that's really just for us to keep track of on an interest level, and to see if we need to be reaching out to different subject areas when we visit universities, but it makes no difference at all to your success in the scheme. You can come from any subject background whatsoever, you don't have any-, we don't have any required work experience, there's no required life experience. All that you need to have is a minimum 2:2 undergraduate degree, by July 2022, and the right to work in the UK. And that is genuinely it, when it comes to requirements. Because, as I hope you've heard from our three today, the directions that you can travel in on the scheme itself and within a broader career in local government, are so wide-ranging, that we don't feel putting you in a box right at the start is helpful for you or for, sort of, the future of local government management. So, absolutely brilliant to, to bring that up Emily. 
 
Those are the ends of my set questions, and I think we've got about fifteen or twenty minutes left. I've already got a raised hand, so if you're got a question, as I said at the beginning, my apologies, we're having some trouble with the chat function today, so if you'd like to pop up a raised hand, then when I say your name if you'd like to say your question. It can be for myself, about scheme in general, or it could be for our panellists about their experience of the scheme. If you really don't want to come off mute, then you can use the NDGP.support@local.gov.uk email address and send us your question in that way. So, we've got a couple of hands up. I really apologise, if I mispronounce your name, please do correct me. So, I've got Annita (ph 40.12)? If you want to start us out? 

M: Alright, thank you very much Anna for the opportunity. I have three question in regard of the NGDP scheme. The first is, I am a non-UK citizen, is that whether, whether I can apply for the scheme or not? And second, does the panellist can provide me a tips in regard of, like, how to apply for the NGDP scheme, like, what I should do for the assessments? And third, what tips and trick-, and the third is that, considering that there are around 800 different sector within local government, can I pick a specific one which is fit with my interest? Thank you very much. 

Moderator: Fab, thanks so much. So, as I, sort of, mentioned maybe at the start, we do require candidates to come with the right to work in the UK. So, you don't have to be a British citizen but you do need to have the right to work in the UK independently, because our trainees are hired by our partner councils, then that whole wide range of employers are unable to go through the Visa process specifically for every single person, we just can't make that guarantee. So, if you've got a pre-existing Visa that gives you the right to work in the UK, that's equally acceptable, or any other form of paperwork which gives you the right to work in the UK. If you've got a question about the, sort of, nitty-gritty on this, then do pop an email along to the NGDP support team, and they can give you some bespoke guidance about which bits of paper you may or may not need, that fit within that right to work in the UK category. 
 
And then I'll just come to your last question, and then come to our panellists with the second on tips and tricks, and that would be around those, sort of, 800 areas. Well, I hope that as you, sort of, heard today, then there's no pressure to make an immediate choice. When you join the NGDP, coming into local government in this frame, then the whole idea of the scheme is to give you a really wide range of experiences so you can begin to develop your own interests as you're on the programme. If you're looking at starting in local government outside of the NGDP, so looking for a specific role within local government, then I would say it might be helpful to have a look at your own local council's website, see what projects are going on, what interests you, where you might have some relevant work experience if you're applying for a very specific role within local government. So, that might help you narrow it down. And just the other thing I want to flag up there is that local councils often offer a huge range of apprenticeship programmes. So, if you're looking for a different route into local government, that's another one that you might want to have a look at. Now, before I go to our panellists for any tips and tricks, I might take a few more questions and see if we can pin a few together for your guys. I've got John, John Triplet? 

M: Yeah, hello. Yeah, my name is John. I'm a postgraduate student of University of Hull. Yeah? So, my question is, I'm asking a question based on international student. So, I, I want to know, an international student that's on a temporary right to work Visa, working for the local government, can it be possible to get a sponsorship for a Tier 2 Visa, working for local government? 

Moderator: Yeah, so thanks John. So, you do need to have the pre-existing right to work in the UK to come onto the graduate programme. So, you need a Visa that would last you for the two years of the graduate programme. We're unable, unfortunately, to sponsor Visas ourselves. So, unfortunately we're unable to do that due to the wide range of councils that we work with and the complexity of doing that level of Visa paperwork. If you've got a question about other public sector schemes who may do that, the NHS graduate programme might be worth a look. They used to sponsor graduate Visas, I'm not sure if they still do anymore. But I would start there as a, sort of, starting point. And, Louise, Louise Simpson is it? If you want to come off mute with your question? 

F: Hello there, thank you very much for your time so far, it's been really interesting listening to Irfin, Reisha, Ellie and from yourself Anna. I've just-, I'm, I'd like a little bit more information if possible about what it means to lead on a project. Like, what, sort of, specific activities does that entail? And that's to, to anyone who wouldn't mind answering. 

Moderator: That is fab, what a great question. I'm gonna-, I'm gonna hold you there Louise, and I'm gonna see if we've got any other questions that are specifically for our panellists, and then we'll come to them in just a minute, so thanks so much. Thomas, Thomas Turner? If you'd like to come off mute? 

M: Hiya, sorry. I, I've just finished my dissertation, I'm looking to use my time productively. Do the councillors that you know, anyone on the panel, work with volunteers? And is it worth emailing a councillor asking if they need any voluntary work just to see the, kind of, logistics and ins and outs of local government? 

Moderator: Fab, what an interesting question. We might pause the questions there for just a second and come to our panellists. So, Reisha, Irfin and Emily, any, sort of, top tips and tricks on the assessment process? And, bearing in mind, if you're really interested, anyone who's listening, I'm doing a separate workshop for our situation judgement test, and I'm doing a workshop on video interviews as well. So, we'll come into some of those in, sort of, separate workshops. But for our panel, any tips and tricks on the assessment process? Maybe your top one each? And, what is it like to lead on a project? And I think Emily you touched really briefly on the day-to-day being really varied, but maybe elaborating a little bit more about what it's meant for you to lead a project? And then if any of you have any idea of contacting a local councillor, then you can throw that into the mix as well. So, I'm not sure, Reisha if you want to kick us off on any of those three points? 

F: I think on the one about emailing a councillor for work opportunities, I mean, I would suggest going for it, if you want to learn more and experience out there, I think putting yourself out there is a great approach to finding job opportunities and learning more about an area you want to work in. So, I would definitely, like, I would go-, I would just got for it if I was you. In terms of a top tip for the assessment centre-, or the assessment process rather. Again, it's a bit cliché, but I would say, like, stick to what you're truly passionate about. I think there's no point in trying to, like, work out what they want from you or, like, what, what they, you know, things they're ticking off, because there's not. There's no one at any point of the application process going, 'Yep, they said that, we want them,' da da da da, and going through a list. I think it really is about, like, the person you are and how you come across and what you can bring to the programme and local government as a graduate. Like Anna said earlier, you're not meant to come, sort of, fully-formed and with all the answers, you're meant to learn and grow as you go, and that's a huge part of it as well. In terms of, like, leading a-, and leading a project as well, not to all the answer all the questions, sorry. But I think-, well, actually, no, I won't talk about the (inaudible 48.05) but I will say, in anything I've had to lead on or do, I've felt really well supported, so while it might seem like a big, scary concept, it doesn't really, like-, isn't anything tangible, you are really well supported within the role to do it. But I'll let Irfin or Emily go into more detail about that. 

Moderator: Fab, maybe Irfin if you want to kick us off by talking about managing a project and what that's looked like for you then, as a starting point? 

M: Yeah of course. So, obviously just to-, just to say Louise, there's a-, there's a range of projects in the council, so any project you lead on will have a different foundation, a different purpose as to why they're starting that project. But with all projects you start off, there's a reason they're doing it. So, the first thing you'd wanna do is basically find out the rationale behind this project, what's the purpose of this-, of this project? What's the-, what's the political input to it is really important, so I just started a new placement in, in leisure and culture under the, the regeneration directorate, I'm, I'm starting on the culture strategy which, which has had no work into it yet, so I'm starting off something new. I'm starting to find out, what's the rationale behind it, what's been done by other councils, who are my local partners, what's the political input? And then I can get my teeth into it really. So, that's what it means to lead on, on a-, on a project. It, sort of, has a lot of influence for the council, it has a lot of interest from councillors, and just an opportunity for you, really, to manage a project that is very exciting and that's what the NGDP gives you. I know we're stuck on time, so I'll let Emily answer the-, yeah, the other questions or add more on this. 

Moderator: Oh, fab thanks. Yeah, Emily, any thoughts to add on, on project management or perhaps your top tip on the-, how you prepared for the assessment process? 

F: Yeah, so top tips for the application process. First things is, you've already started doing it, go to all these different drop-ins and information sessions, they're really helpful. And then the other one is, there's-, somewhere on the NGDP website, if you go and have a look through there, there's a list of key skills and behaviours or something like that it's called, and I think there's eight of them. And if you can just come up with, like, a star method-, if you know what a star method answer is-, but just an answer of where you'd demonstrated that key skill or behaviour. Whether that's from uni or work or volunteering or in your personal life, just come up with a bit of an answer for each, and then you've got that, kind of, in your head then and you've got an idea of the kind of things that you might wanna talk about. Because those key skills and behaviours do come up in questions, so that's-, that would be-, that's what I did. And then in terms of the volunteering, that sounds like a really good idea. I'd say just go for it and ask. The worst thing they can say is no. But also, volunteering in other areas as well is really useful. Like, I worked for citizens advice witness service, which was a court-based role supporting victims and witnesses of crime. And that experience has genuinely really helped me to understand how different key stakeholders can work together and how you can-, it's very transferable in those skills so it doesn't necessarily have to be experience within a council, it can be other types of experiences as well. 
 
In terms of leading on a project, yeah, you do get very well supported, so, the first thing that I did was engaged with all the key stakeholders and set up a project-, regular project meeting with all those different people who have expertise in different areas. So, we had somebody from legal there, somebody from procurement, and all these different people that were gonna support you to deliver that project. And then I was just, kind of, leading those meetings and monitoring the progress of the project, making sure we knew exactly what we needed to do and had people that were able to do it. And then-, yeah, so you get very well supported from that perspective. But then you also do get that freedom to put your stamp on it, if you like. So, for example when I was writing the service specification for the healthier living project, I made sure-, we've got this thing at Doncaster called the compassionate approach to weight, which is, kind of, a new approach to looking at healthy eating, exercise and things like that. It, kind of, takes a bit of inspiration from body positivity movements, things like that. But it's very early days at the moment and hasn't been, sort of, implemented council-wide just yet, but I had heard about that and was really passionate about that, so I made sure to make sure that my project was in line with that, and implement that in those, kind of, early experiences of that, because I was particularly passionate about it. So, yeah. You do get a lot of support, you're never on your own. And in terms of managing-, or leading on a project rather, it's about, yeah, just making sure that you've got all the different experts together and they're all contributing what they need to contribute, in my experience. 

Moderator: Oh, fantastic. Those are some brilliant example guys, thank you so much. We've got a couple more questions, so I will call on Toby first? 

M: Hi, I was just wondering, is there any work placements for undergraduates in, like, in and around year two or year three? 

Moderator: So, that's a quick one for me. Unfortunately no, not through the NGDP. So, if you're interested in getting some work experience or specific work placements, I'd contact your own local council. Or if you're still currently studying at university, speak to your careers service about any connections they already have with the local authority, as the local authority will liaise directly with the university around specific work placements, which relate to gaps in their services. So, our scheme is just delivering that, that graduate, two year graduate fast-track experience. And for anything else working with a local council, you'd want to go directly to the local authority. Alistair, I've had a hand up from you for a little while, you can come off mute? 

M: Hi, I just wanted to ask, is the programme politically restricted at all? 

Moderator: No, so, you-, we won't ask your political background whatsoever in the scheme. I think we've had people who have actually served as councillors come onto the graduate programme before. I would say that the only time it really comes into play is, sometimes people who have a very strong political affiliation, they will have quite a strong indication of where they would like to work within specific local authorities when we come to that, sort of, after the assessment process has finished and we're match-making you with local councils that you're interested in working for. Then, sometimes if you're sent-, we've had in the past where if someone has been sent to an interview with a local council that might be predominantly led by a different political party to themselves, if they've made it very clear that that's an issue for them or that there's a really big difference then that can be a little bit of a sticking point, as it just might not be a place of best fit. So, I would say it's generally not an issue, we won't ask about it. If it's something that you personally feel is restrictive or would be directive for you, then it's something you can raise with the team when you're coming to the end of the assessment process, and we can help to support you in finding the right council to work out, just bearing in mind that all council placements do pend a successful interview with that council. So, yeah, if you're worried about, then have a chat with us when the assessment process is coming to an end. But generally there are no rules to bear on political affiliation. I think those might be all of our questions. If, if I've missed your hand I'll just give a little pause for a moment, and do come off mute and ask your question. It feels like that part in a wedding, speak now or forever hold your peace. But of course it's not-, if you do have a question that comes to you afterwards or you weren't comfortable speaking off mute today-, and again, apologies about the chat-, then please do drop us an email, NGDP.support@local.gov.uk. There are loads of resources on our website and loads of support available for the assessment process. If you are interested in the, sort of, tips and tricks side of things, I'd strongly encourage you to come along to our situational judgement workshop. But if you're unable to make that, a recording should be on the website, and if not, as Emily mentioned at one point, my first port of call is to direct you to have a look at our key skills and behaviour which are listed on the website. Every assessment on the graduate programme through the assessment process, from the situational judgement test to the video interview to the assessment centre, is measuring those eight criteria, and only those eight criteria. So, they are the best place to start when you're preparing an application. But just to finish us off, thank you so much for joining us today, and a huge thank you to our panellists for your time and energy and input, for sharing with us this morning. Thank you very much and take care. 

F: Thank you. 

M: Thank you everyone, bye. 

F: Thanks. 

F: Thank you.