The Local Government Apprentice


I’m very excited at the prospect of the new series of The Apprentice on BBC1. I love the drama, the arguments, the madness, the hopes being raised and then dashed. Secretly, I’ve always fancied having a go at it, but I am a terrible saleswoman and that’s all Alan Sugar seems to care about.  But it’s got me thinking about opportunities in Local Government…

Something that really gets on my wick is the widespread belief that anyone who is very good at their job is “too good for local government”. I’ve heard this used on many occasions about colleagues, and quite frankly it’s a load of old tosh. Why shouldn’t local government have good people working in it? Why should local government try and live up to the non-truths that we are slow, unable to change, 9-5’ers? If we keep telling all the good people they are too good for local government, they will just leave and we’ll end up with fewer and fewer good people.

This is why we end up in the situation with quite a lot of (but not all) group managers, service heads, directors and the like not actually being of the calibre we need them to be. Simon Whitehouse recently introduced me to the Peter Principle and that really rings true with me. The good people are leaving because Local Government isn’t good enough for them, and the remaining ones get promoted – unable/unwilling to take risks, push for change, challenge where things aren’t right because they don’t want to risk their job or potential for furthering their career. Local government doesn’t seem to reward people who are passionate and want to make a difference, if anything they punish you for it (OK, well maybe that is an exaggeration). So we have this vicious circle that we are unable to break as the people who can have a very protectionist mentality.

So, back to the Apprentice. I’m wondering about asking our Chief Exec and the Strategic Directors to think about running an internal version of the Apprentice. The final job on offer could be as an assistant to one of the directors or service heads (or Business Unit Managers – look at the acronym, no joke!). That would start a ripple in the internal job market, in a time where everything is static. Maybe this post could be just for one year, when another apprentice, is sourced from within the council. There could be a post for each of our 3 directors and 1 for the exec. That could open up secondment opportunities for those vacant posts within the authority. All in all, quite an interesting development opportunity for all involved.

Will it work? Will they take on board my suggestion? Am I a fool? Is anyone else willing to see if their authority will do the same?

Watch this space, “don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon”.

Image by Lludo on Flickr