Scotland Personal and organisational development

What is the Information Service’s Local Government Connect Network?

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Learn more about the new Local Government Connect Network in this blog from Laura Santi, Change Management Project Manager at the Improvement Service.

The Improvement Service has an exciting opportunity for you – the Local Government Connect Network! The network is aimed at enthusiastic, engaged and motivated individuals in the early stages of their local government career with aspirations of progressing in the sector.

I started my own career in local government after graduating in 2019, and quickly realised just how rewarding it is to work in this sector. Local authorities are in a unique position when it comes to career opportunities and development. They can offer experience in and exposure to a wide variety of different business areas, as well as providing opportunities to make a real difference to local communities.

Starting out as a graduate, I found it invaluable to work with colleagues to develop the knowledge, contacts and skills I needed. As we all know, networking and mentoring are both hugely beneficial in terms of skills development and knowledge sharing. This is something that is done very well in other sectors – and I believe the local government can learn from how they work.

From my personal experience, I noticed that there was a gap in the local government sector when it comes to networking and mentoring and came up with the idea for the Local Government Connect Network to address this issue.

I am passionate about creating development and networking opportunities for those in the early stages of their local government career with aspirations of progressing in the sector. I was keen to do this in a way that harnesses and maximises the talent, knowledge and experience among existing local government staff. The aim is that the Network will creatine opportunities for a more aligned and collaborative approach to attract, develop and retain our workforce of the future.

Now more than ever in local government, we must prioritise our future workforce and think innovatively to attract, develop and retain talented individuals in the sector.

The Network is designed to bring together professionals in the early stages of their local government career and promote collaboration across all 32 Scottish local authorities and local government partner organisations.

It will encourage professional connections and provide opportunities for personal and professional development through a mix of online and in person events and mentorship opportunities.

Members will benefit from cross-disciplinary knowledge sharing, learning and collaboration leading to being more informed, empowered and connected.

Mentors will have the opportunity to develop some of their own skills as a leader, gain deeper insights into how different local authorities and partner organisations operate and understand fresh perspectives to longstanding complex challenges.

This is an exciting opportunity, as currently no cross-sector forum like this exists for talented and ambitious individuals in the early stages of their local government career.

Sarah Gadsen, Chief Executive of the Improvement Service, said of the new initiative:

“The Local Government Connect Network is a fantastic opportunity for anyone wanting to progress their career in local government.

We aim to help people flourish by providing a supportive space for people in the early stage of their career to connect with others, develop their skills, and learn from the experiences of people already established in their local government career.

“Initiatives like this are also key to attracting, developing and retaining talented people within the sector, helping create a sustainable future for local government.”

Following approval from the Solace Scotland branch in November 2023, the Improvement Service has been working hard to establish and raise awareness of the Network.

We held an engagement session in April to provide more information, advise key next steps and give those interested in the network a chance to ask questions. There was a great turnout, and we received positive feedback from prospective members and mentors.

Following this session, we invited each local authority and partner organisation Chief Executive to nominate up to five members and up to five mentors to join and support the Local Government Connect Network. The uptake of nominations so far has been incredibly positive, and it is great to see the level of interest and support for the Local Government Connect Network across all 32 councils.

The next step is pairing mentors and mentees and hosting our first event. Further information and dates will be released soon.

For councils there is still time to get involved. The Improvement Service invites those that have yet to do so to nominate up to five members to join the network and up to five mentors to support our members. We kindly ask that an equal number of members and mentors be nominated

To ensure the network is inclusive, local authorities and partner organisations are encouraged to nominate up to five members and up to five mentors from a range of corporate, strategic and operational services so that our members and mentors reflect the diverse and wide-ranging demographics of local government services.

Members should be ambitious and in the early stages of their local government career with aspirations of progressing in the sector. Mentors should be experienced, skilled and keen to support our members through 1-2-1 mentorship opportunities. Mentors will be paired with a member in a different local authority.

We kindly ask that your council submits its nominations to [email protected]



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