Unlocking potential

In my role at Warwickshire County Council, I have been closely involved in the journey we have embarked upon through the LGA’s National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP). 

This initiative has proven to be a game-changer for the council and the future leaders who’ve joined us. 

The NGDP provides an opportunity for councils across the nation to attract and recruit some of the most promising graduates, allowing us to invest in, and benefit from, fresh talent, while providing a launchpad for their careers in local government. 

In the context of our strategic workforce challenges, it also makes good business sense. 

Since partnering with the NGDP in late 2020, Warwickshire has hosted four cohorts of outstanding graduates, and we’re eagerly anticipating the next group, set to join us this autumn. 

The vast majority have progressed into senior roles within the council and are flourishing.  

Having embarked on my own career through a local government graduate scheme at Cardiff Council, which followed a summer National Student Sponsorship with Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council, I feel strongly about giving a new generation of aspiring leaders the same opportunities. 

My time as a local government graduate was the foundation of my subsequent career, even though I spent 20 years away from local government.   

The benefits of the NGDP extend far beyond the individual growth and development opportunities of the participating graduates. 

We view this programme as a key component of our strategic workforce planning, fostering a pipeline of future leaders and bringing fresh energy, innovation, diverse views and perspectives to our council each year.  

One of the hallmarks of the NGDP is the exceptional calibre of potential leaders it attracts. These graduates bring not only outstanding credentials, but also great enthusiasm, innovative thinking and a keen desire to learn. 

This brings real benefits to the high-level, strategic projects they work on during their various placements with us. 

Participating in the NGDP also streamlines our recruitment process. 

Drawing from a national pool of high-calibre graduates – carefully selected through a rigorous multi-stage assessment – ensures that, by the time we interview candidates, we are choosing from the very best. 

While some councils operate their own graduate scheme, we’ve found that the NGDP offers us the flexibility to leverage national marketing campaigns, supplementing our local university connections to attract top-tier talent. 

This strategic approach has proven successful, enabling us to tap into a diverse pool of candidates who bring varied perspectives and experiences as we build a more diverse and inclusive organisation. 

Reflecting on just over three years with the NGDP, the benefits to us have already been considerable. Feedback from previous and current scheme participants, as well as colleagues who have worked with them, overwhelmingly points to a positive experience. 

We are eagerly anticipating the arrival of our fifth cohort in autumn 2024, confident in our ability to offer graduates an enriching and fulfilling experience, as well as their ability to bring much to our table. 

The NGDP is not merely a programme; it’s a catalyst for transformation, enriching the present and shaping the future of local government. I encourage councils nationwide to seize this opportunity to collectively propel the sector to new heights by unlocking the full potential of the NGDP’s talented graduates. 

Find out how the NGDP could help your council build capacity and develop the future leaders of your workforce or or email [email protected] for an informal chat. Council applications for NGDP graduates close on 29 February.


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