Headlines: June 14th, 2007

NEW FRAMEWORK AIMS TO BUILD COUNCILLORS’ SKILLS

 

The core skills needed by councillors have changed since the publication of the Government’s Local Government White paper, according to the Improvement and Development Agency, It also believes surprisingly little attention has been paid to the knowledge and skills councillors need in spite of the fact that theirs is one of the most complex roles in politics or the wider world of work.

IDeA says councillors are in the only position in which they will always have to undertake all the elements of the role they started with no matter how they may rise to higher positions in a council cabinet, as a scrutiny chair or even to leadership of a local authority. IDeA warns, too, that forgetting the local leadership, political understanding and good communication aspects of the job can be fatal as far as the electorate is concerned.

In response to this the Agency has commissioned the Work Psychology Partnership to identify the core skills that councillors need and to produce the ‘Political Skills Framework’. The work found some of those skills had changed as a result of the White paper and now included responsibilities for place shaping, community cohesion and engaging hard to reach groups.

As a result the framework has been designed around six key areas, local leadership, partnership working, communication skills, political understanding, scrutiny and challenge and regulation and monitoring. It includes examples of positive and negative responses to these areas as well as background information on how councillors, and those supporting their development, can use the framework.