Local government HR professionals need to improve the perception of career
opportunities in their sector if they want to overcome crippling recruitment
and retention problems.
Charles Nolda, executive director at the Employers’ Organisation for Local
Government, wants recruitment procedures, career planning and training
Nolda told delegates at the Building Skills and Capacity in Local Government
conference that he is concerned employees feel they have few career
opportunities and are leaving the sector.
"Many people can find themselves trapped in low-skill jobs or small
units like schools, social care homes or district councils, where the changes
of promotion are uncertain.
"We all believe workforce development is important, so why do we spend
less on training and development than the NHS or the Civil Service?"
Nolda said the sector needs to view itself as one employer – like the NHS –
instead of more than 400 separate organisations, if it is to improve its
workers’ perceived career prospects.
He cited the Civil Service’s model of rotating staff around different
departments as a way of challenging employees and improving retention.
"Our recruitment procedures are criticised by those outside the sector
for being bureaucratic and there to satisfy the lawyers who are worried about
equal opportunities and not getting the best person for the job," he said.
Nolda also questioned councils’ equality records.
"Our collective failure to get the ethnic make up of the workforce to
reflect the respective communities we serve, along with the slow rate of women
in top jobs, means these issues must be prioritised in workforce
planning," he said.