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UK local authority recruitment trends

Over two million people are employed in local authorities within the UK, however many councils have found recruitment and retention of staff a key challenge. To put in perspective, 71% of councils experienced recruitment and retention difficulties in 2015/16 compared with 52% in 2009/10, which emphasises the growing need for a refined workforce strategy. 

The financial pressure on local authorities has been much publicised, leading to exceptionally lean executive director structures at a time where there continues to be much to do, often in uncharted territory. While there is a general feeling that these core structures are stable, many are looking to flexible interim resource for the expertise and capacity to efficiently flex with emerging trends and seasonal requirements. We explore some of the recruitment trends currently being employed by local authorities below:

Increasing commerciality

Leadership teams are looking at how they can infuse even more commercial thinking into their operations. With that in mind, the local authorities remain on a search for those with private sector experience that can offer fresh insight and new ways of thinking.

Picking the right path to transformation

Pressure is mounting for local authorities to transform their operations to better manage the increasing demand for services. A fundamental part of that change will be in using technology to empower people and communities to be able to fulfil some of these services themselves. 

Re-engaging inside and out

Executive leaders now want to seize the moment and consider their communications strategies again. After years of battening down the hatches, they want to lift aspiration and reconsider how they form a narrative for the public and articulate their benefit to local society, but also take some time to engage with and listen to their own staff internally and ensure that they are motivated and brought into the vision.

Thin on the ground in the numbers department

Local authorities have concerns over the challenges facing their finance, commissioning and procurement teams. Fears have already been growing over their ability to conduct thorough due diligence on suppliers. Supply chain specialists and those with expertise in managing risk can be expected to land key roles.


Regeneration professionals from the commercial and residential property verticals in the private sector will be in demand this year to help achieve regeneration ambitions.  We will also see a scramble for those prized public sector professionals that have already helped other authorities in 'place-making'.

Further reading

For more insights on the UK local authorities, download our market intelligence report where we explore gender pay gap, motivations for working in local authorities and the future of the workforce.

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