19th December 2011

Improving graduate recruitment and work experience schemes in local government

Gradcore was asked to produce a study in to the work experience schemes offered by the Yorkshire and Humber local government and offer a combination of practical advice and suggestions for new initiatives and developments that might benefit further work experience strategies.

To conduct the research Gradcore used its database of graduate level job seekers to gauge perceptions of working within local government. The results were as follows:

  • There is a desire amongst graduates to work in Local Government and the public sector as a whole
  • Local Government application processes could be improved
  • Graduates are first and foremost seeking jobs that offer challenge and career progression
  • Graduates currently perceive Local Government as being somewhat old-fashioned
  • The majority of graduate job searching is now carried out online
  • Graduates currently perceive typical Local Government employees as being middle aged, smart and unexciting.

As a result of these findings Gradcore made the following recommendations to help the Yorkshire and Humber Local Government improve their attraction and selection processes in relation to graduate employment.

There is an opportunity to capture the imagination of graduates, and to attract them into Local Government jobs. However, this opportunity will only be realised if action is taken to shift graduate perceptions. In order to do this we would recommend:

1. LGYH considers looking at an over-arching regional graduate attraction strategy into roles at all levels. This might involve creating a specific Local Government talent attraction ‘brand’. This ‘brand’ should emphasise the diversity of roles available within Local Government, and demonstrate the chance that LG employees have to ‘make a difference’. This should predominantly be conducted online, but could be backed up by hand-picked newspaper advertising.

2. Individual Local Authorities should utilise this central brand, but also develop individual talent attraction and retention plans. However, it is not enough simply to have a marketing plan to attract graduates. There needs to be transformational change within individual organisations, particularly focusing on ensuring that when graduates join the organisation they have genuine opportunities to progress. Front-end investment in attraction will be wasted if the talent is lost 2-3 years down the line due to lack of career progression.

3. The Local Government job application process needs to be reviewed. It is clear that there must be the necessary capture of Equal Opportunities data, but perhaps a move to CV-driven applications would be beneficial, as this is the common route for most graduate job applications.

4. Co-ordinated graduate recruitment across the region would be beneficial. A collective approach to identifying and recruiting the best graduate talent would be both cost effective, and more noticeable to graduates. This could take the form of sub-regional, salary-band-based advertising, attracting a large pool of applicants that could be funnelled into sub-regional assessment days attended by recruitment co-ordinators from individual Local Authorities.

5. Utilising the Universities in the region more effectively would also improve flow of applications into Local Government roles. This could be carried out both directly with Universities and through collective bodies such as Graduates Yorkshire and Yorkshire Universities.