Regional insights – trends effecting the interim market
It’s not all happening in London!
Jonathan Sheppard, Senior Consultant at CIPFA-Penna shares his observations of the talent market from his regional perspective.
Local government organisations in London have long been evolving, improving and transforming to meet the demands of an equally rapidly evolving public and business environment. Does London hold a monopoly on this kind of thinking, and do they set a trend that the rest of the UK then follow?
The drivers of change in the public sector remain largely the same across the UK, e.g. the level of economic growth, business leader’s responsiveness to change/disruption, increasing demand on services with decreasing budgets, etc. These drivers will take different levels of priority for different councils, but they will all still fall under the same banner and are felt far outside London.
The biggest change in business I have seen from my 12 years as a recruiter in the Midlands is most certainly transformation, driven by many factors. There are two factors above all others that seem to be more powerful catalysts for this kind of change; advancements in technology, and a new breed of business leaders.
Advancements in Technology
The ability for systems and technology to do more and more has obvious applications; improving the accessibility members of the public have to their council, bringing the latest smart tools to those in Social Care, analytical tools to help capture the needs of the public, predictive analytics to address issues in services before they arise – leading to earlier intervention and prevention, ever-more real-time data available to support crucial decisions, etc. I am sure many councils may have already felt the impact of not adopting some of the available technology in their own organisations, often missing out on valuable opportunities to improve service at lower costs.
Meaningful change is delivered by embracing a modern approach to business. To give you an example… How did a start-up like Netflix succeed in beating its superior, Blockbuster? Fundamentally, it was because Netflix executives embraced the power of an emerging technology that was set to revolutionise their market. They were ahead of the technology curve and transformed the industry completely – leaving Blockbuster in its wake. Who’s to say that if Blockbuster’s executives had been more embracing of this technology that they, not Netflix, would have been the dominant force in the industry today? If they didn’t innovate, someone else would. Someone else did and Blockbuster was history.
A New Breed of Business Leaders
As alluded to above, it takes bold and visionary leadership to adopt meaningfully effective technological advances into any business. Leaders in the public sector must not only understand the latest developments in technology, but more importantly answer the question of how these can be best applied in their organisation, what this would mean for service-users and staff as well as appreciating the wider-reaching implications (good and bad) of such a shift.
The tendency is to not go too far beyond applying these advancements simply to optimise the existing way in which an organisation is working. At best, this may afford only incremental improvements. Who is going to champion the game-changing improvements? This is where great leadership goes hand-in-hand with advancements in technology – in any successful organisation, it seems you can’t have one without the other.
Today’s senior business leaders will almost certainly face this challenge and all must face stepping well outside traditional comfort zones to be ready. Although daunting and undoubtedly hard work, the vision is that instead of breaking their backs to deliver more and better with less, they can use a more powerful array of tools than has ever been available to a generation before them to achieve the dream of delivering less and better with more. An aspiration for many under the kinds of funding pressure prevalent in local government, and one that can bring it seamlessly into a digital age and brighter future.
Change in London vs. the rest of the UK?
Back to the question I asked myself that inspired this entire thought process: Do these types of changes exist for councils outside of London, or is London just ‘first to the trough’? As you can well imagine, ALL councils must tackle these kinds of changes and in my experience, most of them are.
The availability of talent is perhaps just that harder to come by in the regions, and transport is not as readily available for commuting, but in the main if your work is of interest, talent will relocate and the quality of life offered outside of London can be a real draw.
Feel free to get in touch with us to discuss what kinds of opportunities these changes can provide for you, or to let us support your organisation through such change.
Senior Consultant, Local Government