Local government minister Nick Raynsford has praised St Albans City and District Council for its success as part of a government pilot scheme to investigate how local authorities can make their workforce planning more effective.
The results of the St Albans project, which was co-ordinated by the human resources department, are now being used as a basis for implementing good practice in local authorities throughout England.
Raynsford said the initiatives had resulted in an extensive management development programme, flexible working, a new apprenticeship scheme and a revised appraisal scheme
Councillor Chris Oxley, the council’s portfolio holder for resources, said: “It is our firm policy to think creatively to ensure our council continues to retain and recruit the very best staff and at the same time help students who find funding their degree courses a challenge. We want to help them so they can help us.”
Under the project:
- Managers were asked to look ahead and identify how their staffing needs would develop in the light of the priorities over the next five years, and what skills those people would require. In St Albans, workforce considerations are now part of every senior manager’s annual strategic review.
- The project identified immediate and long-term staffing needs, and highlighted skill shortages, particularly in planning and environmental health. Using these findings and those from other councils that took part in the pilot scheme, meetings have taken place with universities to make them aware of the skills that are in short supply.
- The council has also been raising its profile among planning students by introducing a bursary scheme at Oxford Brookes University, and is offering holiday work placements to students interested in taking up careers in planning.
- The council has also made use of the Modern Apprenticeship Scheme to address the national shortage of benefits staff and to encourage young people into specific areas of local government such as environmental health, HR and customer services.
- Placements were advertised in the local media and targeted young people aged 16 to 24. Candidates gain work experience and participate in a programme of NVQ qualifications. The council’s objective is to create a team of trained and qualified employees, able to fill vacancies as they arise.