Local Government National Graduate Development Programme

How To Fast-Track Your Career In Local Government – Top Tips

By Lusi Manukyan

Having started on the National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) at South Tyneside Council in October 2015, I found myself thrown into the deep end, immersed into a completely new working culture and absolutely loving it! The programme has completely exceeded my expectations and helped me realise what an exciting place local government has become.

The NGDP is a two-year graduate development programme for the next generation of leaders and managers in local government. If you are you an innovative, ambitious, intelligent, and socially conscious individual, this programme is your opportunity to make a real difference. There are up to 120 places each year based in one of over 40 participating councils across England and Wales. And benefits include a starting salary of £24,174, a generous holiday entitlement, pension scheme and flexible approach to your work/life balance.

As and NGDP graduate, I love being part of a programme which values me, develops me, and where I get a real opportunity to make a difference to the people in my community. My host authority, South Tyneside Council, is an exciting place to work. It’s innovative, forward thinking, and very ambitious, despite being one of the hardest hit councils in the country.

I started out in Strategy and the Chief Executive’s office, which was a fantastic insight into the politics and inner workings of the Council. Very early on, I was given the responsibility for re-writing the Council’s five year Corporate Strategy, which allowed me to build closer relations with Heads of Service and managers from across the organisation. I also got a once in a life time opportunity to work on the development of one of our flagship projects, the Word, the newly opened National Centre for the Written Word, which has been a great experience.

Thanks to the NGDP, I feel that I am already a more resilient, well-rounded professional, with a broad knowledge of various service areas and expertise in leadership and management. I know that when I come out at the end of the programme, I will have a complete set of skills required to be a leader in any sector.

The programme opened its doors to the next cohort of applicants on 24th October 2016 and you have until 11 January 2017 to submit your application. Here are some key bits of advice that might help you in the process. You will find the key skills and behaviours NGDP expects you to demonstrate [in the brackets]:

    •    Apply! It might sound obvious, but in my year approximately 4,500 people started an application and only about 2,000 completed it. Without applying in the first place, you won’t get a chance to be part of this amazing experience. You have between now and 11th January 2016 to complete stage 1 of the process. [Drive for results]

    •    Prepare in advance. While the application process is not set to trip you up, it’s always best to know what’s ahead. Have a go at some of the free online numerical, verbal reasoning, and situational judgement tests – you will feel much more confident when you come round to doing them if you know what the format is likely to be. [Planning and organisation]

    •    Take your time to think about the responses for your video interview. You will have plenty of time to prepare your answer, but you might find it helpful to practice in advance by recording yourself and listening back, just to make sure. [Persuasive communication]

    •    When you’re in the assessment centre, don’t be afraid to be confident but remember to demonstrate your team-work skills too – it’s important to show that you are prepared to lead, but you don’t want to come across as cocky or patronising. [Working with others; Leadership potential]

    •    Make sure you research your council choices. After you’ve been accepted onto the programme, it’s all about finding the right fit between a candidate and a council. Being confident about your choices will give you another advantage. [Commitment to local government and the wider community]

    •    Before your interviews, thoroughly research the key challenges in local government and come up with innovative ways to address these – councils love to see that you are keen learn about them and not afraid to come up with solutions to difficult issues. [Analysis and problem solving]

    •    Think of real life examples of when you have done something for your community and the impact that this has made so you can share these during your interview. Write them down if you have to and revisit them to make sure they don’t slip your mind when you’re under pressure. [Commitment to local government and the wider community]
    •    Finally, think about why you want to go into local government and make sure you articulate this at every stage of the process. [Motivation for learning and personal resilience]

Apply now fast track your career in local government at http://www.ngdp.org.uk/applications. Good luck!

For more advice or tips drop me a line on LinkedIn or send me a tweet @Lusi_Manukyan

If you have any questions about the application process read the ngdp FAQs on www.ngdp.org.uk, send us a tweet @ngdp_LGA or email: ngdp.support@local.gov.uk

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