Careers In Local Government
Run by the Local Government Association, The National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) is a leadership training programme designed to help councils to find and develop the next generation of local government officials.
If after assessment you're accepted onto the programme, you can expect a competitive, challenging and rewarding two years.
In that time, you'll take on three to four different placements in public interest projects such as social care and housing, or head office functions like finance and HR. In doing this, you'll broaden your understanding and knowledge of government and the public sector, and it could also help you decide which area might be the best fit for you and your career.
The programme is a consistent presence on lists of top 100 graduate employers.
Types Of Local Government Jobs
Local government is a fantastic job field to get involved in as it's ever-changing and offers a huge range of opportunities.
Those that want to be at the forefront of progression and change may be interested in project based work or programmes aimed at developing local communities. This could be anything from improving access to social care and working in health and safety, to urban design or planning.
And then in the local government head office there are jobs to be found in HR, finance, legal and strategic planning, to name but a few.
The main thing is to want a role that helps you to use your skills to make your local area a happier, healthier and safer place to be.
What Local Government Look For In Applicants
In general, applicants for the National Graduate Development Programme should be able to demonstrate a passion to make their local area a better place, and how their individual skills will help them to do that.
As well as visible commitment to the cause, you'll also need to show you're a team player, that you're proactive and that you don't shy away from difficult or awkward conversations.
Local Government Application Process
The NGDP's recruitment process runs annually, which means there's only one chance a year to get onto the programme.
As well as submitting an online application, you'll be required to take aptitude tests and a personality test. You'll also need to take part in a video interview and an assessment centre.
It's a rigorous and competitive process, and getting to the end involves a lot of hard work, discipline and focus.
Local Government Aptitude Tests
Local Government Numerical Reasoning Test
The numerical reasoning test is designed to assess your aptitude for numbers.
You'll be faced with questions related to percentages, fractions, ratios and data interpretation, and you'll need to move through each question with relative speed to ensure you get to the end of the test.
The test is set at around GCSE maths level.
Local Government Logical Reasoning Test
Logical reasoning tests are designed to see how well you keep calm and focused as you try to solve non-numerical and non-verbal problems.
Using the limited amount of information you're given, you'll need to work out the rule that connects the seemingly random sequence of shapes or patterns before you. You'll then need to use that rule to finish the sequence.
Logical reasoning tests can be especially hard as they're not something we encounter on a day-to-day basis — which makes practicing all the more crucial.
Local Government Verbal Reasoning Test
Verbal reasoning tests measure an individual's communication, analysis and basic English language skills.
In the test, you'll be presented with a series of paragraphs that you'll need to read through before answering the related questions.
The most important thing you can do is read carefully and try to extract key pieces of information. Examiners will be looking to see that you can tell the difference between fact and inference, as well as all of the other skills mentioned.
Local Government Personality Test
The personality test is a chance for the examiner to see how you, as an individual, react to a series of different workplace scenarios.
For each hypothetical scenario you see, you'll be asked to share your personal response.
While there are no 'right' or 'wrong' answers, it's certainly true that there are answers that employers are looking for as they're more likely to indicate you'll be a good fit for the programme.
So while it's important to be truthful, it's also helpful to have a think about the type of candidate the NGDP are looking to take on.
Local Government Video Interviews
If you pass the aptitude portion of the assessment, you'll be asked to take part in a video interview.
The video interview requires you to film your responses to a series of pre-set questions.
Each answer you give will be reviewed against the list of NGDP key competencies, so it's crucial you weave these into your answers where possible and relevant.
Local Government Assessment Centre
The final part of the process is the assessment centre.
This gives you a chance to meet with other candidates, as well as hiring managers.
There will be individual exercises, group exercises and a written exercise to finish off with.
Throughout the day you'll be constantly assessed on your key qualities and characteristics, as well as how well you do at the tasks and whether you come across as a team player.
Tips To Get Hired In Local Government
Research The Organisation
Doing your research is really important and will help you at every stage of the application process.
As well as the organisation and the NGDP programme, it's a good idea to read up on local council initiatives, any topical information you can find on current projects or plans, and familiarise yourself with the terminology used across roles in local government.
Take Time To Work On Your Application
It's the foundation of the whole process and the first impression a potential employer will get of you, so it's really important to spend time on your online application.
As well as ensuring it gives a detailed yet concise look over your education, working history and achievements, it's important to make sure your spelling and grammar are impeccable, and that you've demonstrated clearly the key competencies the NGDP seeks in its successful candidates.
Practice Pre-Employment Tests
Practicing aptitude tests is essential if you want to make it through this particularly challenging stage of the process.
As well as practicing in exam conditions (that means no distractions, timing your test and ensuring you don't look up any answers) it's so important to go back over your test at the end. This is your opportunity to find out which areas you might be struggling with, so you can work on improving them before the test that really counts.
Understand Pay And Grading Within Councils
This is important as it sets up your expectations for the process.
Each role will have an associated pay grade, but if you're entering into the world of local government for the first time then it's likely your pay will be at the bottom of the band.
It's important to feel comfortable with this before applying, in order not to waste anyone's time (including your own).