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Developing local government leaders in the West Midlands: Graduate opportunities in adult social care

Written by: Abby Vella-Folliss at WM ADASS
Published on: 1 Dec 2022

Developing local government leaders in the West Midlands: Graduate opportunities in adult social care

Seven years ago, on a sunny September morning, I took the train from Birmingham New Street to Wolverhampton for my first day as a Graduate Management Trainee at City of Wolverhampton Council. 

Along with three others, I was starting the Local Government Association’s two-year National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP).  NGDP is a fast-track graduate programme in local government offering experience across a range of service areas in councils across the country as well as professional leadership development. 

In my time at Wolverhampton, I worked across a number of areas – from working with elected members in democratic services to re-developing the City Council’s wedding offer. It’s also where I started working in adult social care, specifically in community occupational therapy – and seven years later I’ve not looked back. 

Each year, NGDP partners with over 70 different councils to host graduates recruited to the scheme. The West Midlands has a long and proud history of being part of the programme and supporting the next generation of local government leadership. 

The following councils in the region were part of the scheme last year:
•    Birmingham City Council
•    City of Wolverhampton Council 
•    Coventry City Council
•    Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council
•    Staffordshire County Council
•    Stoke-on-Trent City Council 
•    Warwickshire County Council
•    West Midlands Combined Authority
•    Wyre Forest District Council

Typically, if you are on the programme, you can expect to complete four six-month placements in different areas/teams within the council. Depending on the priorities of the council at the time these can often include placements in adult social care.

Anna Woodberry and Sophie Cragg are both NGDP graduates working in adult social care in the City of Stoke-On-Trent:  

I started the NGDP scheme in September 2021 so have been on the programme for 14 months now. When I joined, it was the first time Stoke-on-Trent City Council had ever taken part so it was super exciting to help shape how the programme works here. We do it slightly differently to other Councils in that we are attached to a particular department/directorate for the duration of the two years and then rotate within to still gain a variety of experience. During my time in Adult Social Care, I have worked under the Principal Social Worker (PSW) on workforce, learning and development to help ensure our staff have the skills and knowledge they need to achieve the best outcomes for residents. This included organising a joint Festival of Practice Week with Children’s Social Care and other key partners, such as both Safeguarding Boards and Staffordshire Police, that provided over 30 different training sessions for staff to access. 

More recently though, I became involved in our preparation for assurance from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), who acquired regulatory power from Central Government to assess local authorities from April 2023. I have helped create, research and produce a self-assessment that will inform our improvement plan for the next 6-12 months, which I will continue to support. This work is critical to ensure we provide the best possible services for residents in the city. 

I have no problem admitting that when entering the scheme, my knowledge of adult social care was very basic, but as you can see from my experience so far, the work for a graduate can be extremely varied outside of professional practice roles in social work and occupational therapy. I’m passionate to remain in adult social care and Stoke after the scheme finishes and excited to see what my remaining nine months bring.

My name is Sophie and I have been on the NGDP programme with Stoke-on-Trent City Council for just over a month now (and it has flown by!). At Stoke City Council, the graduates stay in the same directorate throughout the scheme and rotate around the different teams within the department. I am in the Adult Social Care, Health Integration and Wellbeing directorate and my first placement is working with the internal provider team on policy development. Having recently graduated with a history degree, adult social care has been quite new to me but the project on policies has given me a strong overview of the daily running of a provider service and the range of services that the council delivers. I have also really enjoyed visiting the variety of services and meeting new people with lots of experience. Not only this, but I have had the opportunity to get involved with lots of other activities such as two career fairs, joining the NGDP Policy network and even attending a training session run by the Children and Family Services that used virtual reality! There are endless opportunities working in a local authority and on the NGDP graduate scheme which is a really exciting time.


Grad Article group image

Peter Tomlin, Director of Adult Services at City of Stoke-on-Trent Council, says the following about NGDP:
“We’re delighted to be part of NGDP and support the development of skilled, innovative and passionate employees in adult social care who drive positive change, work with people in communities and make a difference in our City.  When I spoke to the graduates, they wanted to be where it’s at, and I can think of no more exciting place to be than at the sharp end with local government. We’re excited to follow the careers of our national management trainees and see where their local government journeys take them”. 

If you are interested in an exciting, challenging and rewarding career in local government, candidate applications for NGDP are now open and will close on Wednesday 4 January 2023. 

If you would like to be a participating council, you have until 31 March 2023 to sign up for the next cohort. Find out more here. 

Click here to visit our Adult Social Care Careers Hub which includes career advice articles & all the latest job vacancies across the sector in our local councils.