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A career as a local government officer

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People with a desire to serve their communities and the public may be interested in a career as a local government officer.

Local authorities are responsible for a wide range of decisions that impact upon the lives of the residents in their area, including running transport, planning, tourism, social work, health and leisure services.

Local government officers assist the development of council policies and procedures and ensure they are implemented and delivered effectively, placing officers on the frontline of local politics.

They liaise with the public, councillors and administrators, and are often responsible for a wide range of services. More senior officers may have a role on council committees.

The duties of a local government officer depend on the local authority and department that employ them, but a typical working day in the job involves assisting with policy formulation, coordinating their implementation and then monitoring policies in practice.

Officers support the cabinet and local committees of the council and coordinate meetings and research reports and briefings. They contribute to the operation and strategies of their department and often specific policy areas.

Entry requirements are wide-ranging - employment opportunities are open to all graduates - however a relevant degree or diploma in business management, politics, social policy, economic or legal studies will boost chances of securing a job.

However degree discipline is not considered as important for employment opportunities as knowledge of political structures and personal qualities and skills.

Candidates must have good organisational and negotiating skills, excellent written and spoken communication skills, an ability to deal with a diverse range of people, and knowledge of relevant policy areas.

Work experience in local authorities could prove invaluable to develop the skills required for the job and to gain an insight into the work of local councils.

People in England and Wales can enter the two-year National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) for local government, which offers 80 places each October. Trainees are placed into a local authority to build experience in a variety of work environments.

In-house training, particularly for managerial roles, is common and allows local government officers to acquire professional qualifications as part of their job.

Local government officers largely have traditional working hours of nine to five, Monday to Friday - however, flexi-time, job sharing and other flexible working options are available.

Some meetings and events require officers to partake in evening or weekend work, but this is compensated by generous annual leave allocation and additional public holidays.

Competition is fierce for employment opportunities - however local government is one of the largest graduate employers in the UK, providing more than two million jobs.

Education services alone employ more than 900,000 people and employment opportunities in finance, administration, management, legal and personnel are available.

Working for local authorities requires a passion for serving local communities and delivering frontline services to residents and ensuring councils provide value to council taxpayers.

Those hoping to secure a job as a local government officer need to demonstrate working knowledge and experience more than academic qualification.

For more information about careers in local government, visit Prospects.


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