So what can
Local Government explained…
Local government is a huge service provider – education, environmental health, housing, social care
and many more, all of which benefit the local community. Local councils either provide services
directly to the public or arrange for other organisations to provide them. Most of these services affect
the daily lives of local people in a major way.
Look around you. What do you see? A computer in front of you? A desk? A classroom? A
playground, a park perhaps? Trees, traffic lights? A teacher? These things – or people – don’t just
appear out of nowhere. They are all administered by the government – local and national.
And they are not free. Computers and desks need to be bought, roads need to be mended,
playgrounds and parks need to be looked after, traffic lights need to work so there aren’t big pileups,
teachers need to be paid – whether you want them or not!
These things are called public services. They are things that everyone benefits from. Other public
services including the health system, the armed forces, the environment and benefits if you are
unemployed, homeless or need to stay at home to look after a relative.
Not everyone in the country will need to go to the doctor or have to claim housing benefit, but the
whole society benefits by a healthy population and one that has somewhere to live, so we all take on
the responsibilities to pay for these things.
Local Government or authorities oversee the running of services within their area and have to deliver
them in the most economic, efficient and effective way possible. They also have to look continually to
the future and what will be required as well as improve what is already available. Some aspects of
their work has to be done by law while other aspects are discretionary which means the authority can
provide a service if it wishes.
About 2 million people work for local authorities. These include the people who register births,
marriages and deaths, the council tax collectors, police, fire-fighters, refuse collectors and teachers.
The running of an authority is overseen by elected councillors who are voted in by the local voting
• 433 Local Councils in the UK
• 22 in Yorkshire & Humber
• Employs over 2 million people – one of the largest employers
• Local Councils spend over 70 billion a year
• Around 600 different jobs in local government
There are many different service areas in local government. They can be categorised into five different
themes: building, caring, educating, protecting and supporting.
You can find out more about these areas and the wide variety of jobs available within them in this
Working in Local Government - what's it like?
Local government is influential and is responsible for providing a wide range of services that affect all
Local government can really improve local communities. It houses, informs, educates, entertains and
protects its citizens and maintains a well-balanced environment. Local government is dynamic and
exciting. Local government is constantly changing and is becoming increasingly competitive. There is
pressure to respond both to the needs of the local community and the wishes of central government.
For those working in local government there are new challenges every day.
Local Government employs over 2 million people in around 600 job areas – building, caring, educating,
protecting and supporting.
Local Government employees contribute to the local economy whilst working in a dynamic, fair and
The information in this booklet has been taken from the LG Careers website. For further information and to find
out more about a particular career, please visit www.lgcareers.com.
Your Local Government in Yorkshire & Humber
Calderdale Borough Council www.calderdale.gov.uk
City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council www.bradford.gov.uk
Kirklees Metropolitan Council www.kirklees.gov.uk
Leeds City Council www.leeds.gov.uk
Wakefield Metropolitan District Council www.wakefield.gov.uk
Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council www.barnsley.gov.uk
Doncaster Metropolitan Borough www.doncaster.gov.uk
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough www.rotherham.gov.uk
Sheffield City Council www.sheffield.gov.uk
East Riding of Yorkshire Council www.eastriding.gov.uk
Hull City Council www.hullcc.gov.uk
North East Linconshire Council www.nelincs.gov.uk
North Linconshire Council www.northlincs.gov.uk
City of York Council www.york.gov.uk
Craven District Council www.cravendc.gov.uk/craven/
Hambleton & Richmondshire District www.hambleton.gov.uk
Harrogate Borough Council www.harrogate.gov.uk
Ryedale District Council http://www.ryedale.gov.uk
Scarborough Borough Council www.scarborough.gov.uk
Selby District Council www.selby.gov.uk
North Yorkshire County Council www.northyorks.gov.uk
Just some of the job areas…
Building your community…
Local councils build, develop, manage and own a wide range of buildings, from housing and
residential homes to schools and public buildings. Staff are employed in all sorts of capacities both to
oversee and regulate construction and development, but also to design and build.
Architects in local government provide a full range of architectural services to meet the requirements
of the council and also, on occasion, private clients. The nature of the work varies widely and
incorporates the design and procurement of new buildings, alteration and refurbishment of existing
buildings, conservation work, survey and feasibility work, advice on condition, use and maintenance of
existing building stock, contract administration and report writing.
Local government architects work in unitary, metropolitan, county, district and city councils and
Councils own and manage a large number of buildings. Architectural technologists work in partnership
with architects, and are concerned particularly with the technical performance of buildings rather than
the design elements.
Landscape architecture in local government is all about places and spaces. A landscape architect
could be involved in designing any number of outdoor areas, from an inner city park or urban
regeneration project, to a woodland play area or a historic garden. Local government landscape
architects are employed in most large councils, usually within the parks, leisure or cultural services
Getting into many buildings, onto a bus or climbing stairs can often be difficult at the best of times. If
you are disabled in any way, it can be a nightmare. Nowadays, all types of local authority except
county councils have access officers who are sometimes called ‘access design officers’ or ‘disabilities
officers’ They are responsible for negotiating with developers and designers to procure best access
standards in all the council’s buildings and highways: to make it easy for everybody to come and go
about their business. And, it is not only the disabled who benefit. The old, infirm, the unwary –
anybody – can find uneven pavements, dropped kerbs, car parking threatening. As a building
consultancy job, the post may also be located in the property directorate and in some cases in social
Introduction Bricklayers work on the construction and maintenance of council property. Bricklayers are
skilled craftspeople who turn the plans of engineers and architects into real structures. They build all
types of walls for new buildings, renovations, extensions, tunnels, archways, drainage systems, and
Building Control Officer
Building control officers (BCOs) work in the building industry, ensuring that regulations on public
health, safety, energy conservation and disabled access are met.
Around 3,000 building control offices are employed in local government or approved inspectors
throughout the UK. They are found in district, metropolitan (including London boroughs) and unitary
councils but not in county councils.
Electricians are responsible for safely installing and maintaining electrical and electronic systems.
Within local authorities, they carry out different types of work:
installing wiring systems and equipment in new buildings (and in building conversions)
maintaining and repairing wiring systems and equipment in existing properties
installing and maintaining street lighting and associated equipment
They may either be directly employed by the local authority, or by a firm of contractors carrying out
work on the local authority’s behalf. Various departments within local authorities need the services of
electricians. Property services departments and housing departments require installation and
maintenance electricians; highways departments employ street lighting electricians. In all, around
8,000 electricians work for local authorities.
Joiners in local government work on the construction and maintenance of council buildings, for
example, houses, schools and town halls. Joiners prepare and fix into place all the wooden parts of
new buildings, such as floor joists, roofs and door frames. They also carry out maintenance work on
Plasterers work on the construction of new council buildings and the maintenance of existing ones.
Plastering takes great skill and demands speedy work as the plaster dries quickly. There are two types
of plastering: solid and fibrous. Solid plasterers put wet plaster on to walls and ceilings; fibrous
plasterers create ornamental plasterwork, such as cornices, ceiling roses, covings and arches.
Plumbers install water, drainage, waste disposal, heating and gas systems (and appliances) in houses
and public buildings. They may work for one of several local council departments, such as building
maintenance, property services, housing or environmental services. They usually work in teams of
skilled craftspeople, supervised by a building services supervisor.
Building Maintenance Officer/Engineer
Building maintenance officers are responsible for the well being of council property stock such as
schools, concert halls and offices and occasionally housing. This entails general maintenance,
refurbishment and adaptation and involves contributing to surveys, design and construction.
The post is sometimes called Field Engineer and can often be found in all types of authority which
have a building surveying/engineering section within an architectural consultancy – usually not found
in county councils. It is an ideal opportunity for anyone with a services-trade based background to
begin a professional design and maintenance career.
Also, it can be a good step forward for those who have already set out on the building
Building Services Engineer
Councils have a considerable investment in property. They own the premises in which their
administrative offices are based – the town hall or civic centre – and libraries, museums, leisure and
entertainment centers, theatres, schools, social houses, flats and sheltered accommodation.
Someone has to make sure all this property is safe and in good working order as it is being built and
as it is maintained. Building services staff are responsible for its maintenance. The Building Services
Engineer is a specialist member of that team with mechanical and electrical engineering training. The
work is similar to that of the Heating Engineer or Technical Assistant – Mechanical.
Caretaker, Housing & Community
Traditionally, caretakers have been responsible for a building – such as a block of flats, a town hall or
a community centre. There are still many jobs of this type, but increasingly, local authorities are
employing mobile caretakers, who provide a service at a number of different sites.
The emphasis of the work varies. Some caretakers spend the majority of their time cleaning, whilst in
other jobs there is more emphasis on the ‘handyperson’ aspects of caretaking – mending broken
windows and carrying out minor repairs to paintwork, plumbing and electrical fittings. The amount of
time spent on security duties – such as controlling access to a building or patrolling an estate – will
In these uncertain times, security has become a major issue – for airports, large hotels, embassies,
banks and local government! Councils own substantial amounts of real estate and protecting it is the
job of the security officer who is responsible not only for property, but for the safety of the people who
Security officers are employed in all types of authorities, though some may be privately contracted.
Some people, whose income is below a certain level, receive financial assistance in the form of
housing benefit – a sum that they use towards payment of rent.
People on a similar income level may be exempt for paying all or part of their council tax. Councils are
responsible for calculating and paying the benefits. They employ benefits officers and assistants
(sometimes known as benefits assessment officers) to do so. Benefits officers work for
district/borough, unitary and metropolitan councils.
Council Tax Officer
Councils raise revenue in the form of a local tax charged to occupiers of property, based on the value
of that property. Council tax officers determine the liability of local residents to pay tax, calculate it and
administer the systems for requesting and collecting payment.
Homeless Persons Officer
Councils have a statutory duty to give assistance and accommodation to certain groups of homeless
people. Homeless persons officers are involved in the process of providing homeless people with
temporary accommodation and developing strategies to prevent homelessness wherever possible.
Housing managers are responsible for the day to day management of council’s housing teams.
There’s a range of responsibilities that a manager may oversee, varying from council to council but
assessing the needs of homeless people and council tenants ensuring swift allocation of
properties in accordance with Council policy
developing housing policies for the area and ensuring these are implemented fairly and in a
sympathetic manner, to provide an efficient and caring service
dealing with vacant properties, letting housing and re-housing existing tenants
managing housing and making sure it’s well-maintained, identifying problem areas and
potential remedial action, effectively implementing repairs programmes
organising the collecting of rents and dealing with arrears
building relationships with the community and working in partnership with them to improve their
ensuring compliance with tenancy agreements including preparation of reports and attendance
at court as necessary
recruitment, supervision, training and development of staff
processing applications under the Right to Buy legislation, completing statutory forms and
As a housing manager, you’d head up a team of staff including housing assistants and housing
officers that may be employed within several neighborhood offices. The size of team depends on the
size of the council you’re employed by as well as their emphasis on housing in their area.
Every local authority has considerable investment in land, property and buildings. There is a specialist
surveyor to cover each of the following property functions:
planning and development
technical surveys to support the chartered surveyor.
Quantity surveyors deal with the financial side of construction and engineering and the post can be
found in every type of authority except county councils. They are part of the Building Consultancy
Service and in some authorities they may be part of the technical services section under the direction
of the senior quantity surveyor.
For more information please visit: http://www.lgcareers.com/careers-az/building-your-community/
Caring for your community…
Looking after those who are socially excluded, taking care of elderly people, caring for children and
young people, supporting those with disabilities and other vulnerable groups within society - local
councils take on all these responsibilities. They require friendly, caring and highly skilled staff both to
manage these services and to deliver them on the front-line.
Drug & Alcohol Youth Worker
The use of drugs such as ecstasy, cocaine and heroine by young people is perceived to be an
increasing problem in today’s society. It is every parent’s worst nightmare – whether real or imagined.
Of course, drug and alcohol abuse is by no means confined to youth. Some adults also have serious
problems with drink and drugs.
Youth workers are often based in the youth and community service of education departments in all
authorities except for district councils. But, as this is outreach work, the post may also be located in
social services because there is an obvious link in that both deal with people at risk. The purpose of
the job is to provide a programme of drug prevention education for young people.
Outdoor Education Worker
Not all education takes place inside the school gates. Community services help young people to
develop many skills from outdoor activities such as abseiling. And it is not only physical attributes that
are acquired. Working in groups helps pupils build confidence and learn how to cope with relationships
as well. The post exists in all types of authority except for district councils.
Outreach Development Worker, Children’s Information Service
Helpful services may exist, but if few people hear about them they will have little effect.
The Children’s Information Service (CIS) aims to provide information about early years education,
family support, childcare and play provision services which are accessible and affordable for 0-14 year
olds. Outreach development workers concentrate on ensuring that the information gets to the people
who will benefit. The post is found in all types of authority except district councils.
Youth work is about helping young people in their personal and social development and enabling them
to fulfill their potential. It is about giving young people a voice and empowering them to participate in
and influence their communities. Local government youth workers help young people learn about
themselves, others and society through informal educational activities, which are fun, challenging and
encourage learning. Local government youth workers, also known as youth and community workers,
usually work in a local council’s children’s services department.
Fostering & Adoption Social Worker
Fostering and adoption social workers assess whether families are suitable for fostering or adopting
children. They find long or short-term fostering placements for children who come into care and find
permanent new families for children who can’t go home for whatever reason. Their work involves
recruiting, assessing and giving ongoing support to foster carers and adopters of children.
Residential Social Worker
Social work is one of the fastest growing areas of local government provision, and one of the most
difficult. It provides a range of services critical to the welfare of a large number of the most vulnerable
members of our society: the young, disabled, elderly people, the unemployed, single mothers, children
and families involved in adoption and fostering.
Residential social workers add an extra dimension to this responsibility – having to live with those at
risk and with special needs on a full or part time basis. They are employed by all types of local
authority except county councils and voluntary agencies like Barnardos, private organizations and
specialist employment agencies.
Social work is one of the fastest growing areas of local government provision, and one of the most
difficult. It provides a range of services critical to the welfare of a large number of the most vulnerable
membes of our society: the young, disabled, elderly people, the unemployed, single mothers, children
and families involved in adoption and fostering.
They are employed in unitary councils, metropolitan councils, county councils, and London boroughs
but not in district councils.
Social Worker, Children’s Services
Children are potentially the most threatened members of society because they are among the most
vulnerable. They are prey to physical, emotional, sexual and substance abuse. Some have learning
difficulties, physical disabilities or mental health problems. Often the unstable, disadvantaged child is
regarded as a menace and should be disciplined. But to social workers he is damaged, perhaps
depressed, frightened and lonely. It is their job to help him: to organise care and support for the child
and his family who is at risk or who has special needs. It is one of the specialist areas of social work
which also includes adult services. Social work is based in all types of council local authority except
For more information please visit: http://www.lgcareers.com/careers-az/caring-for-your-community/
Educating your community…
Local councils are responsible for the smooth running of schools, colleges, libraries and information
centres. Not only do they employ teachers and school support staff, but also a whole range of
advisers and administrators who help to deliver the council's educational services.
Careers education and guidance is designed to help young people realise their full potential. Local
government careers teachers help students to understand themselves, develop their capabilities,
investigate opportunities and implement their career plans: to make an informed choice about
education, training and employment.
Careers teachers in local government might also be known as a careers co-ordinators. Many careers
teachers also have other subject specialisms.
Mental Health Outreach Worker
Outreach workers in community services teams specialise in supporting people with long-term mental
health problems. They help them adapt to ordinary life within the community by developing coping
skills rather than being institutionalised in a hospital or hostel.
Occupational therapists work with people who have disabilities, and their carers, who are having
difficulties with personal, domestic, work and leisure activities. They see children and adults of all ages
and disabilities including neurological conditions, arthritic conditions, cancer, cardiac circulatory,
learning disabilities and mental health problems and respiratory conditions and HIV/AIDS.
They assess the disabled person and their carer/s to ascertain what is needed to increase
independence. This may include provision of specialist equipment, or adaptations to the property, or
advise on rehousing. It may also include functional treatment to improve range of movement, coping
with perceptual or cognitive deficits, coping with sensory loss or mobility impairment. Occupational
therapist’s are registered by the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine (CPSM). The
qualifying degree includes a medical and social analysis of disability. They also have knowledge on
housing design and give advice to housing departments on mobility and wheelchair housing.
Curriculum/Professional Development Adviser
This high profile post is part of the teacher advisory service that aims to maximise school performance
by raising standards and effectiveness. By managing the advisers’ work, the development adviser
ensures the operational design and delivery of high quality curriculum development. In short, they help
to construct a coherent system of continuing professional development (CPD).
Advisers are responsible to the Executive Officer, Professional Development and work in all types of
authority except for district councils.
Education Welfare Officer
Local government education welfare officers work with schools, children, their parents/carers and
other agencies to ensure that children are able to benefit fully from all the educational opportunities
available to them. They have particular responsibility for promoting regular school attendance, dealing
with absenteeism and working with those children who are at risk of exclusion. There are education
welfare officer posts in all types of authority except district councils.
School Improvement Adviser
School improvement teams in local councils provide advice and support to schools in a range of areas
including: school management and leadership; curriculum and assessment; school improvement; and
professional development of staff. The remit of a school improvement adviser is to support, advise
and challenge the school in its drive for continuing improvement through a programme of visits
throughout the year. School improvement advisers work for unitary, county and metropolitan councils.
Teaching assistants work in schools with teachers in order to help provide relevant learning
experiences for children. There is a wide range of actual job titles in use – classroom assistant,
general assistant, learning support assistant, and in Scotland the term auxiliary is used for staff
supporting children with special educational needs.
Teaching assistants are employed by those authorities who are responsible for providing education
services – county councils, unitary authorities, metropolitan district councils, London boroughs, and
the education and library boards of Northern Ireland. In practice, many of the employer functions are
carried out at school level. There are an estimated 60,000 currently employed throughout the UK, with
the number expected to rise in England and Scotland as a result of the policies of the respective
Most schools are funded through local government or are grant maintained. There are currently over
470,000 teachers working in schools run by local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales. They
teach around seven million pupils in approximately 27,500 secondary and primary schools. A
teacher’s main aim is to build a relationship with pupils that brings out the best in them and makes
them receptive to ideas and knowledge.
For more information please visit: http://www.lgcareers.com/careers-az/educating-your-community/
Protecting your community…
Councils provide a range of services to keep you safe and protect you and your local environment.
From fire and rescue services and emergency planning in case of disaster, to environmental
conservation, pollution control, consumer advice, enforcement of hygiene standards in public places
and management of household waste. It is the council's responsibility to ensure you live in a safe,
clean and pleasant environment.
Community Safety Officer
Local councils have a huge role to play in addressing crime and anti-social behavior. In partnership
with the police and local voluntary agencies, community safety officers are involved in implementing
plans to reduce crime and disorder. They also promote and develop new initiatives to raise awareness
of and increase public involvement in community safety.
Emergency Planning Officer
Emergency planning in local government involves the co-ordination and preparation of contingency plans,
procedures and activities that deal with the challenges posed by major emergencies, for example, floods, the
outbreak of highly infectious diseases in animals or humans, terrorist attacks, major accidents and so on.
Policy Development Officer
Policy development officers within local council social services departments research plan and
develop services. They may specialise in adult services or children’s and family services. They also
advise elected council members and senior management on their options relating to policy, planning
The funeral business need not be dark and sinister. Many people today opt for ceremonies that
celebrate a life rather than mark a death. It is not unknown for the farewell to a Harley Davidson fan to
feature a procession of bikers headed by the funeral director in tails and crash helmet.
But there are unique sensitivities about death and bereavement, which those in the business would
never ignore. The gravedigger, or cemetery worker, is no exception even though he/she may have
less personal contact with clients than his/her colleagues. The job can be found in all types of authority
except for county councils.
Local government countryside rangers manage and maintain open spaces such as parks, woodlands,
heaths, common land and urban green spaces. In more urban areas they may be known as park or
Councils employ wardens to deal with stray or dangerous dogs. They also have the power under the
1996 Dog (Fouling of Land) Act to designate areas as ‘no fouling zones’, where owners must clean up
after their pets. Some councils also employ enforcement officers to make sure that this is done. In a
small council the two jobs can be combined.
Councils also have a responsibility to inspect and license premises where dogs are bred or cared for.
If any such establishments are in their area, enforcement officers make regular visits to do so.
Dog wardens work for district/borough, unitary and metropolitan councils.
Environmental Monitoring Officer
Councils are responsible for monitoring their local environment and devising ways of removing or
minimising pollution. Environmental monitoring officers are scientific support officers who are
employed in the environmental health departments of local authorities to check levels of noise, air
pollution and land contamination. They also advise on ways of avoiding pollution when plans for new
civil engineering or construction projects are being made.
Who looks after the grass in the middle of the traffic roundabouts? Who prunes the hedges by the side
of the road? Who waters the hanging baskets in the town centre? It’s all in a day’s work for the local
And it’s not just a case of keeping things clean and tidy, but also about creating new open spaces for
the public’s enjoyment – planting and nurturing new plants and trees.
Some gardeners work directly for local councils; others work for private contractors who provide
service for local authorities. Gardening duties are also undertaken by grounds persons (who tend to
keep sports grounds, playing fields and community areas maintained) and horticultural operatives,
whose prime responsibilities are often parks and public gardens.
In all there are over 20,000 gardeners and grounds persons working for environment, housing, leisure
and recreation departments – in district and metropolitan/unitary councils.
Local government tree officers are responsible for the care and management of trees owned by the
council – in public woodland, country parks, parks and recreational spaces in towns and cities, and at
the side of roads. They are employed by district, unitary and metropolitan councils and are sometimes
known as arboricultural technicians or forestry/woodland officers.
Environmental Health Officer
Environmental health in local government is all about improving people’s quality of life and making
sure they are able to live, work and play in safe, healthy environments. Local government
environmental health officers/practitioners are involved in a wide range of activities covering food
safety, public health, occupational health, housing and environmental protection.
Environmental health officers work in unitary, district/borough and metropolitan councils, but not in
Health & Safety Adviser
A Health and Safety Adviser (also known as Health and Safety Trainer and Health and Safety Auditor)
works to advise and to ensure a commitment to safety is maintained by all departments of a council,
under its requirements for complying with all statutory duties in respect of health and safety legislation.
Pest Control Officer
Councils are responsible for making sure that houses, streets and public buildings are kept clean and
pest free. When pests are discovered in any of these places, pest control officers come to the rescue.
They deal with a variety of pests that may pose a danger to health or cause damage to crops and
foodstuffs. Pest control officers are usually based in environmental health departments and work
alongside staff concerned with refuse and street cleaning, health and safety, food hygiene and
Port Health Officer
One of the biggest dangers to our health is from bacteria in products of animal origin and other
foodstuffs carried by ships arriving in our country. We have port health officers and their teams to
thank for the fact that this threat is contained, though problems do arise from time to time. It has been
suggested that the foot and mouth epidemic may have started from imported bacteria, for example.
The Port Health Division is part of the food and safety section of environmental services.
It is responsible for protecting the health of the community by maintaining the highest standards of
safety of all foodstuffs imported into every port in the UK.
The post can be found in all authorities, except county councils, with ports and harbours under their
Technical Officer, Food Control
Being fit and healthy is not just a question of aerobic exercise and a sensible diet. As we know from
the many recent scares about mad cow disease in humans (CJD), salmonella poisoning and the like,
no matter how careful we are it is not always possible to control what goes into our stomachs.
Technical officers with a special brief for food control provide specialist help in a team directly
responsible to a principal officer whose aim is to maintain, improve and promote safe and healthy
living, working and trading conditions throughout the local area. This involves helping to educate the
community in food hygiene and safety and inspecting for infectious diseases. Officers help with
inspections, complaints, sampling, gathering evidence and witness statements to be used for informal
and formal enforcement in the courts. But their role is a positive one and the job richly rewarding.
Many of their clients welcome the support and protection they can provide.
Technical Officer, Health and Safety
One of the most important areas of environmental protection is Health and Safety.
Technical officers develop a keen sense of what is needed to make sure that the workplace is safe.
This applies to both workers and any members of the public who might visit areas with potential risks
and hazards. Technical officers help to reduce and prevent workplace accidents by advising
employers on health and welfare conditions in their factories, offices and other work sites. To see the
problem before the accident happens and it is too late!
This means that technical officers will spend a good deal of their time visiting local work premises,
advising on conditions, investigating accidents and any complaints they might have had from
employees or the public about health and safety issues. They are employed in all types of council
except county councils. Together with colleagues in the environmental services department their aim
is to promote a safe and healthy environment for workers, visitors and the surrounding community.
Car Park Inspector
Car park inspectors patrol the council’s on and off street parking areas and make sure they are
properly maintained and that cars are not parked illegally. Some inspectors may work at a particular
car park and collect payments from drivers, but as most car parks have automated ticket machines,
the majority of car park inspectors need to travel to a number of different locations throughout their
If you decide to become a civil engineer in a local authority, you could be involved in a vast range of
different areas of work – designing, planning and supervising the construction of the area’s roads,
bridges and large buildings, sea defences and harbours, docks and airports – and even land
reclamation and sewerage systems.
As a civil engineer, you may decide to specialise in transport or planning, engineering or buildings,
bridges or structures. There’s considerable variety in the range of opportunities that civil engineering
can offer and over 10,000 civil/structural engineers employed by local authorities.
Civil engineers may be based in any kind of council, depending on the allocation of the budget. Much
construction work is put out to tender, but councils still employ professionals to plan and oversee the
work and manage the contracts.
Highways Maintenance Engineer
Highway maintenance is a specialised branch of civil engineering. Maintenance engineers work in
conjunction with urban planners and other engineers in traffic management and transportation to look
after the state of our highways. In managing highway maintenance they have a responsibility for
monitoring planning schemes, construction and repair work. They are employed in all types of local
authority except for county councils.
Do you enjoy:
doing physical work?
being a member of a team?
helping to maintain and improve your local area?
If so, being a roadworker could be the job for you. Roadworkers build new roads; carry out
improvements on existing roads, such as road widening and repair potholes and cracks in road
surfaces. They also carry out work on footpaths and parking areas. Roadworkers are usually
employed by the engineering services department of a local authority and may also be known as
Section Engineer, Drainage
Even when the weather is kind, there is plenty of work for drainage engineers. When it is very wet they
are in even greater demand.
A section engineer may also be called team leader in charge of a group of specialist drainage
engineers. It is challenging work.
The post is usually found in all types of authority and in sections that are sometimes called Economic
and Development and include engineering service, drainage, structures, highways and landscape.
Traffic & Transportation Engineer
Traffic and transportation is a specialised branch of civil engineering. Civil engineers are problem
solvers, working to overcome the various problems posed by modern technological society such as
pollution, traffic congestion, urban development, community planning, and drinking water and energy
needs. They are involved with the design and construction of anything that is not a building – roads,
railways, airports, bridges, dams and harbours.
Transportation engineers are hands-on engineers. But even though they do not drive policy, they plan
and design systems for moving people and goods safely and efficiently. The post is found in all types
of local authority.
Development Control Officer
Anyone wishing to build on or develop land must first gain planning permission from the council.
Development control officers play a crucial role in this process dealing with planning applications and
providing advice and guidance to the public and developers about making the most of the land and its
resources, whilst also taking into consideration the environment.
Licensing assistants help licensing officers ensure that private hire vehicles are safe and that public
entertainment premises abide by health and safety regulations and local by-laws. They protect the
public from irresponsible coach operators or pub and club owners, for example. That is why the
Licensing Officer is sometimes called an enforcement officer.
The post may also be found in the Chief Executive and Town Clerk’s Department, Legal Practice in
the corporate directorate and in all types of local authority except for county councils.
Public Transport Marketing and Development Officer
Quite simply, the aim of this job is to encourage more people to go to work by bus. ‘Travelwise’ –
leave the car at home and preserve the urban and rural environment.
Public transport marketing and development officers (PTMDOs) promote local transport services by
working with bus operators and large city-based companies and employers to develop effective
marketing of transport. The post can be found in all types of authority in the transportation section of
Urban Design & Conservation Officer
Look around you. Do you like what you see? Are the new buildings you see in towns as good as those
that were put up many years ago? Should old buildings be preserved? What about public gardens and
monuments? Do you notice them? Do you agree with the poet John Keats that ‘a thing of beauty is a
If you have thought about these questions and care about the answers, then you could play a part in
how your built environment looks by choosing a career in urban design and conservation.
The post is located in all types of authority except for county councils.
Street markets range from the rural stall with food, flowers, home made jams and cakes to the bigger
urban affair where you can buy almost anything, from pots and pans to computers as well as a motley
of other more perishable products: the famous Petticoat Lane type market in London, for example.
People like markets because they are romantic, full of colourful characters like ‘Del Boy’ and
everything a good deal cheaper than you would get in the local supermarket. But after the selling is
over there can be a further price to pay in terms of litter and general disorder. And that is only one of
the reasons why local authorities have markets officers, or as they are sometimes called ’street trading
officers’ for the councils’ markets. The posts are found in all authorities except county councils.
Senior Trading Standards Officer
Trading standards staff can make a big difference to people’s lives and they get great satisfaction from
successfully exposing rogue traders.
Justice is done. The consumer is protected. But their impact is not always punitive. They provide the
community with advice and support, too – often preventing trouble before it occurs.
Senior trading standards officers cover the same ground as trading standards officers (TSOs) except
that they may have extra projects to manage and teams to guide. They are able to use the force of
legislation to promote a fair and just environment and stamp out shady practice. They are employed
in all local authorities except district councils.
Recycling officers play a part in saving the environment – they plan and develop environmental action
plans and carry out schemes for recycling waste materials such as glass, paper and cans. All councils
have someone responsible for recycling policies, working for either environmental services or
cleansing departments. Sometimes the work is combined with areas such as waste management,
environmental health or community initiatives.
Did you know that the average family throws out around five tonnes of waste every year? Waste
management and refuse collection services collect, bury, burn or recycle it. And that is not counting
commercial waste from shops, restaurants, factories and so on.
Local authorities may run their own refuse collection/waste management service or they may contract
it out. Typically they send out teams of drivers and refuse loaders with a refuse collection vehicle to
collect rubbish and take it to a tip.
Back at the depot, supervisors and managers organise regular and special collections and check
For more information please visit: http://www.lgcareers.com/careers-az/protecting-your-community/
Supporting your community…
Councils require a number of support functions that hold their organisations together. These functions
have a huge impact on council services and are vital to the smooth running of the organisation. From
administrators and ICT technicians, to marketing officers and solicitors, there is a whole range of staff
employed to ensure that the council can successfully support both its employees and its community.
Administrative assistants employed by local councils provide clerical support for senior staff and
managers. Many council departments are open to the public and receive lots of enquiries, so the job
can involve a lot of contact with a range of people. Many senior staff spend quite a bit of time out of
the office, visiting clients or making site visits, so administrative assistants are expected to work on
their own initiative for large parts of the day and deal with enquiries in managers’ absence.
Administrative assistants work for all types of councils and across a variety of departments.
An efficient office means a properly managed council and a satisfied council taxpayer. Office
managers have important parts to play in ensuring that this happens.
Every type of council has corporate or ‘core’ services with jobs that are crucial to the planning and
implementation of its work. Each function is for the benefit of employees and the entire organization, in
all the services. Officer managers will be found in policy, personnel, finance, information technology,
marketing, legal and other departments and the skills acquired are transferable to different work
environments. The actual job titles will vary from council to council. In small authorities they may be
responsible for work which is normally done by facilities managers – running the building, cleaning and
so on. In large councils they may specialize in a particular resources such as budget management or
other aspects of the authority’s brief.
Democratic Services Officer
Today, local authorities are determined to give people the kind of service they feel they deserve as
council taxpayers. In order to achieve this, councils are encouraging greater public involvement and
The democratic services officer is at the heart of this drive and the post can be found in all types of
authority. Where the specific post does not exist, similar functions may be carried out by Best Value
Officers and others who try to ensure that the council is giving the public value for money.
Councils are responsible for organising all elections held in the UK: parliamentary general elections,
European parliamentary elections, council elections and any by-elections. Elections managers
oversee the register of electors and are responsible for ensuring that the election process runs
Executive Office Manager
One of the key words of the last two decades has been ‘value’. In addition to ‘value added’, ‘best
value’ is now included in the lexicon of business language.
A ‘best value authority’ is empowered by the Local Government Act of 1999 to secure continuing
improvement in the way in which its functions are exercised with regard to economy, efficiency and
Most local authorities have best value officers, policy and quality officers who are responsible for the
use of best practice throughout the organisation. Executive office managers play a key part in this
process at a more senior level. Indeed they may well have been best value or quality officers and with
promotion moved to a more strategic role. In planning and managing the corporate commitment to
continuing improvement, they give support to the directorate in pursuit of its statutory obligations. The
executive office manager functions at the heart of quality development initiatives in every type of
Scrutiny Commission Adviser
The government wishes to speed up the process under which local authorities introduce new
measures – by permitting them to introduce local ‘cabinets’. This means that as in central government,
a small number of elected members (councillors) are authorised to vote on certain issues rather than
referring every matter to meetings of the full council.
Decisions made by a small proportion of elected councillors must be open to question by more
members before being adopted. Legislation therefore provides for scrutiny commissions, composed of
a number of councillors, to study the decisions made. They have the power to order further research
or enquiries before allowing them to pass. All councils are required to have commissions in place.
Scrutiny commission advisers – also known as scrutiny support officers – are employed to advise and
provide guidance to individual scrutiny commissions. They work for district/borough, county, unitary
and metropolitan councils.
Community Development Officer
Community development officers work to improve the involvement of all kinds of community groups in
local life: developing parks and urban spaces in response to people’s requirements; improving
healthcare for disadvantaged groups; getting better access to services and jobs for ethnic minority
communities. Community development officers work across different council departments with a wide
range of people.
Economic Development Officer
Economic development in local government is all about improving the economy of an area, by
attracting new businesses, encouraging investment opportunities, increasing job opportunities,
promoting leisure and tourism and identifying opportunities for sustainable growth and development.
Economic development officers draw up local economic development strategies and implement
actions to achieve all this.
Helping a community start a new company, advising groups on what grants they could get, getting
funds to improve housing or development transport systems – these activities are all in a day’s work
for a regeneration officer.
Regeneration has become a major activity for local authorities in recent decades, whether it has been
developing docklands areas in cities or launching community-based businesses. Some regeneration
or urban renewal units are departments in local authorities, others are development agencies that are
While regeneration is a separate activity in some authorities, its close links with both community
development and economic development mean that it is not necessarily a separate department in
Accountants must ensure that the council’s financial management is effective and efficient, making the
best use of public money.
About 18,000 accountants are employed in local government throughout the UK. They are employed
in all types of local authority.
A significant number of the current chief executives are trained accountants.
Budget Support Officer
Every council department is allocated a budget – an amount of money, which is spent during the year
and is strictly controlled. A budget support officer’s job is to work with staff in different departments to
identify costs, check available budget and monitor expenditure within the overall council spending
There is a corporate services department in all types of local authority. As the name suggests, it
incorporates the council’s ‘core’ functions. All the services provided to a local community rely on
efficient administration, human resource management, information technology support, legal
representation and advice, marketing and promotion and thorough policy development and research.
But at the heart of this is sound financial acumen. No business, commercial or otherwise, can survive
if the financial basis is unstable. Finance officers are part of a team that includes accountants,
accounting technicians, accounting assistants or, as they are sometimes called, finance clerks.
Finance officers work to professionally qualified accountants.
Fraud Investigation Officer
For many people state benefits can make the difference between a decent standard of living and
poverty. But there are some who abuse the system, a small minority who claim allowances to which
they are not entitled – which may be social security payments, housing benefits or unemployment pay.
Fraud investigation officers are responsible for the prevention and detection of all kinds of fraudulent
activity including financial irregularities within the council itself. This post that can be found in all local
Call Centre Agent/Customer Service Adviser
Nowadays we expect quick and efficient service on the phone. In response to our expectations, local
authorities are employing growing numbers of call centre agents/customer service advisers to provide
local people with information and advice over the telephone. Increasingly, these telephone
information and advice services are provided through call centres (sometimes known as contact
centres), which may be run directly by the local authority, or by a private contractor, working on behalf
of the local authority. A variety of job titles are used. As well as call centre agent and customer
service adviser, titles include ‘call centre operator’, ‘agent’ and ‘customer adviser’.
The receptionist is often the employee most visitors to the council see first. Receptionists work in all
council buildings and it is important for them to be friendly and welcoming – their attitude can affect a
visitor’s perception of the entire organisation.
Local authorities employ a wide variety of staff working in different jobs. Some work full time basis,
others on a part-time or jobshare basis. They may be paid weekly or monthly and some may work
several hours of paid overtime or be in jobs in which car allowances, shift allowances, unsocial hours,
stand by and/or bonus payments are made. They may choose to join a pension scheme and have the
contributions deducted from their pay.
The payroll department has to ensure that they are all paid correctly and that all the records connected
with their pay are kept up to date. In addition, a council may operate a payroll system for locally-
managed schools, using information supplied by school administrators. Payroll officers work for
county, district/borough, unitary and metropolitan councils.
Personnel/Human Resources Officer
Personnel/human resources officers help to make an organisation’s human resource – its employees
– as effective as possible. This may be through direct support for the employee or by providing
specialist knowledge for managerial use.
Around 15,000 personnel officers (including managers) are employed in local government throughout
UK. They are employed in all types of local authorities. The many aspects of personnel means there
are numerous titles for its practitioners including industrial relations officers, staffing and development
officers, employee relations officers as well as personnel officers.
Training officers either provide, or ensure the provision of training for all staff involved in delivering
services for their local authority. This includes arranging and/or running training events either
personally, or through internal and external partners, consultants, or academic and vocational
Depending upon the size of the council a training officer post could be part of a central training team,
part of a personnel/human resource department, or part of a departmental training function, for
example, within the Education Department. Some training officer posts are designated as specialists,
e.g. management development. Whatever the role, there will probably be some co- ordination of
training activities at corporate level, by a more senior officer.
There are currently around 8,000 training officers employed in the UK within local government. They
are found in all types of councils.
All local authorities need to produce promotional or information material from time to time. This could
be required by almost any department. Human Resources for example, might want to produce
recruitment literature or a staff handbook; Social Services or Education might decide to hand out
information booklets to clients or parents. The Planning Department might need explanatory leaflets,
maps and plans for a public consultation exercise. Many councils also now have websites, on which
they explain their services and publicise local facilities and events.
Some councils use design and advertising agencies but most also have an in-house design
department. Graphic designers therefore can work for district/borough, county, unitary and
Information technology plays a central role in the efficient delivery of local authority services.
Computers are used to store and retrieve information in almost every council department, for example,
managing a council’s housing stock, tracking planning decisions, monitoring environmental policy,
making payments and communicating across council departments. IT technicians play a crucial part in
maintaining and developing these complex computer networks.
Councils have duties that they must fulfil by law. They also purchase large amounts of supplies and
equipment and issue a lot of contracts for work to be carried out. In addition they are employers and
have obligations under health and safety and employment law. All councils have legal departments,
which advise council managers and elected members on legal matters. Legal assistants provide
administrative support for this work.
UK law requires the details of all births, stillbirths, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships to be
recorded officially. The role of a registrar is to collect this information. Registrars also perform civil
marriage and partnership ceremonies and other celebratory duties. There are about 1750 registrars in
England and Wales and about 500 in Scotland. Small councils might only employ one or two
registrars, whereas larger councils might have a range of staff who specialise in different areas of
Many services in local government involve daily contact about the law, and councils need frequent
legal advice. Solicitors advise both elected council members and senior officers on a wide range of
topics from employment to land purchase, through to prosecution of rogue traders and suppliers.
Approximately 3,500 solicitors are employed in all types of local authorities throughout the UK.
Many current chief executives trained as solicitors. The profession can therefore lead to the very top.
Local government communications officers are responsible for the positive promotion of a local council
and its activities. Some communications officers have a general role and promote all aspects of
council services; others work for one department and have a remit to promote a particular area of
work, for example, children’s services.
Local government communication officers might also be known as marketing or PR officers.
A local government press officer is responsible for promoting a positive image of the council in the
media and developing good media relations and coverage. Press officers might also be known as
media and communications officers. Local government press officers are employed in all types of
PR (’public relations’) is all about conveying a positive image to the public – usually via the media
(newspapers, magazines, radio and TV, for example.)
PR assistants work in all sizes of local authority, ensuring that the work of the Council is kept in the
public eye and that it is seen to be doing a good job.
As we develop into a more and more media-driven society, so the importance of positive PR increases
– and the number of jobs with it.
Policy officers contribute to the effective management of a council by helping to develop and
implement strategies, objectives, and council-wide policies and procedures. They also review and
monitor existing strategies and procedures to ensure consistency across the council.
This is a core post and exists in every type of local authority. Research is required in all the local
service directorates. This particular example profiles the work of a research officer with the
geographical information system in the department for social and housing services. It can be taken as
a general guide to similar posts in other areas of council functions.
The research officer is a key part of the development team in housing and residential services whose
role is to provide research and information in support of their remit. But the officers have a more active
role to play, too.
Senior Policy Officer/Partnerships Development Officer
As a result of the local government acts of 1999 and 2000, councils are bound by ‘best value’
principles – to give the local population the service they need and to which they are entitled as far as
limited resources allow.
Policy and project officers work in the chief executive’s office and undertake a range of strategic duties
designed to fulfill this mandate. Most will have particular specialisms such as the development and
implementation of social inclusion and partnerships policies. In essence, this means working to ensure
that the council is involved with the public and that all its services are freely available to them in an
open and accountable way. The post exists in all types of authority.
For more information please visit: http://www.lgcareers.com/careers-az/protecting-your-community/
As you start to decide what you would like to do in the future out in the world of work, you will need to
start preparing for interviews. An interview is an opportunity for the employer to find out whether you
have the right skills and attitude for the job and also gives you the chance to see whether the job and
the organisation is right for you.
An interview is an excellent way for you to demonstrate your skills and knowledge. This can include
examples from school, college or even personal examples to help you put forward how you utilise
There aren't any right or wrong answers to interview questions: how you come across is as
important as what you say. Be yourself – if you have to put on a completely false act to get through the
interview, is this really the right job for you? Always be honest in your answers and be prepared to
Some of the questions you are likely to be asked are listed below along with some helpful hints on
how to answer the questions.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself?
Talking about your interests and hobbies is quite acceptable, try and relate this to the job you are
applying for. This is usually a good way for the interview panel to find out a little bit more about you
and help you to relax. Mention any important turning points in your life and why you are applying to
this career. If there are any weaknesses in your application this can be a good chance to explain these
in a positive way.
2. What are your strengths?
This is your chance to sell yourself. Before any interview, think about your "Unique Selling Points" -
anything which makes you a strong applicant: good academic results, relevant work experience,
evidence of teamwork or other relevant skills for the job. You need to back up these points with
relevant examples of where you have demonstrated these. This question may be phrased in different
ways such as "How would your best friend describe you?" or "Why should we take you rather than the
other applicants?" Whichever way it is phrased, this is a golden opportunity to convince the interview
panel that you are the right person for the job: don't waste it!
3. What do you think are your weaker points?
One of the most common way to answer this is to state a strength disguised as a weakness, e.g. "I'm
too much of a perfectionist" or "I push myself too hard". Try and back the negative up with a positive,
and give examples: you could say that your desire for perfection makes you very single-minded, often
blotting out others to get the task done. Another way to answer this is to choose a weakness that
you're working to improve and describe what action you are taking to remedy it. For example: "I used
to find it hard to talk to people I didn't know well, but being helping out at the school library meant
helping lots of people with different queries.. Now I'm happy talking to anybody one-to-one and I've
joined the school council to give me experience of speaking in front of an audience." Everyone has
weaknesses and if you refuse to admit to any the interviewer will mark you down as arrogant,
untruthful or lacking in self-awareness.
4. What have you learned from your work experience so far?
Try and convey some of the key transferable skills you have acquired from any work experience, such
as decision making, communication, teamwork or presentation. Remember this does not need to be
paid experience, it could be any volunteering you have done or work experience from school. Things
such as baby sitting or if you organised a trip out for your friends, also demonstrates some of these
skills so don’t dismiss. You may also wish to emphasize that you are clear on your career intentions as
a result of your work experience. Having already had some experience you know what you like and
dislike about work. You can claim to be certain that the job you are being interviewed for is suited to
you because what you learned from your past work experience suggests this.
5. What is your greatest achievement so far and why?
Before your interview think through everything you have done in the last five years and try to find at
least one example which fits each of these situations. A simple way to answer this question is to: first
describe the situation or task, then the action you took and finally the outcome.
6. Describe a situation when you have worked in a team?
Most jobs will involve a degree of teamwork so make sure you understand its importance. The
interview panel need to assess how well you relate other people, what role you take in a group and
whether you are able to focus on goals and targets. Outline the situation, your particular role and the
task of the group overall. Describe any problems which arose and how they were tackled. Say what
the result was and what you learned from it. Be positive about what the group did. Examples could
include putting on a drama or music production; team sports; a group project at
school/college/university; a business game or "Young Enterprise" scheme or working example.
7. Describe a situation where you led a team.
Some jobs may expect you to plan, organise and guide the work of others as well as motivating them
to complete tasks. This, and other skills which the employer considers essential for effective
performance in the job, should have been highlighted in the job description - so always be prepared to
give examples of situations where you have demonstrated these qualities! While your example should
indicate the nature of the team and the task, you need to focus on your own role as leader and on the
personal qualities that led you to take on/be nominated for this role and which helped you to succeed
in it. Leadership involves a whole list of skills: planning, decision-making, persuading, motivating,
listening, co-ordinating - but not dictating!
8. Tell me about a time when you had to work to complete a task against a deadline.
"The last time I had to hand in an essay" will probably be the most common answer. This is an
opportunity to give an indication of your ability to plan your work, organise your time and handle
several competing priorities. Consider including in your answer: Any restrictions or limitations that
risked your meeting the deadline, your effective prioritisation of tasks which enabled you to be on time,
the need for initial planning and organisation, how you handled conflicting demands from other
sources and the need to be focused on the task at hand.
9. How well do you cope under pressure?
You should give examples of situations in which you have coped. Obvious examples will come from
your academic experience preparing work to deadlines etc. Try and mention experiences from areas
outside school/college/university as well. Perhaps from work experience, a Saturday job or other jobs
you have had. There are some people who actively thrive on having things constantly demanded of
them. Are you one of these people? Make sure you answer the question, demonstrating a time when
you have coped and the result.
10. Describe a situation when you have taken the initiative.
This is a chance to show that you can come up with new ideas or started something up on your own. It
will demonstrate whether you have a proactive or passive attitude to problems. It could involve
anticipating a problem and finding a solution to it. Examples could come from your work experience,
group projects or your interests. For example you could give an example of when you worked in a
shop and went out of your way to help a customer who had a problem: if the customer thanked you,
mention this. Small details will help the interview panel see the impact.
11. Give an example of a time when you have convinced someone to do something they
were not keen on doing.
Influencing the behaviour and even attitudes of others is a good skill to have and very important in
certain job areas. Consider situations in which your ideas were obviously better than others. Equally, it
could be that you convinced someone to do something which they initially had severe doubts about.
Talk about the methods you have used to convince someone as well as how persistent you needed to
be. Are you better face-to-face or on the phone? Would you be as effective if you tried to do it in
writing? Are some people easier to influence than others? Is so why is that the case? How could you
apply this to your working life? Show that you enjoy influencing other people as well as being good at
it, if this is a key area of the job.
12. What makes you the best candidate for the job?
This allows you to put across three or four things that are the best things on your CV. Try to back
these points up with examples of where you have had to use them. Consider the requirements of the
job and compare these with all your own attributes - your personality, skills, abilities or experience.
Where they match you should consider these to be your major strengths. The employer certainly will.
For example, team work, interpersonal skills, creative problem solving, dependability, reliability,
originality, leadership etc., could all be cited as strengths. Work out which is most important for the
particular job in question and make sure you illustrate your answer with as many examples from as
many parts of your experience, not just academic, as you can.
13. Have you any questions for us?
Ask questions you really want the answer to. Asking no questions suggests a lack of interest!
Research the company carefully: you will find questions naturally arising. Focus on questions that
show your interest in the work itself, rather than the rewards it will bring: ask about training & career
progression in preference to pay, pensions, holidays & parking! Prepare questions in advance. If all
your prepared questions are answered during the interview say what you had planned to ask, and that
you have already been given answers. You can also mention here anything that has not been not
covered but that is important to your application.
Where can I get some further information…?
You can find out more about Local Government and get some work experience if possible by:
Making the most of work experience placements arranged through your school, college or
Contacting councils close to your home to find out about the work experience opportunities
Talking to someone who does the job you are interested in – ring your local council to see if
can spare some time.
Making an appointment to see a careers adviser for more specific information about jobs and
Some useful websites
Your local council’s website