A surge of new courses for members and officers of councils at universities around the country is a clear sign that academia is responding to the skills gap. It is recognised that there is a real need for sector specific training for council officers and members following recent changes to the structure, roles and responsibilities of local government and to the changes on the horizon.
Coventry University is among institutions responding to the growing need. It is providing a programme to meet the demand for more specialist managers to deal with complex regeneration projects with a new postgraduate level qualifications, including the first regeneration MBA. The University also offers the Postgraduate Certificate, Diploma and MBA in Regeneration Management, as well as an MSc in Regeneration and Sustainable Communities. The courses are aimed at people with a major responsibility and role in regeneration projects, including Project managers, Strategists, Executive Consultants and Chief Executives.
Sheffield Hallam University offers a new foundation degree in sustainable communities. It has been devised to capture interest of emerging young professionals and provide people from diverse backgrounds an opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills in that area. The course has been devised because the Academy for Sustainable Communities saw a need to try and plug a skills gap in the sector. The aim is to redress recruitment problems in the sector by trying to equip professionals with a broad mix of skills for improving community-based projects.
Birkbeck College, University of London, has announced a new foundation degree course aimed at people working in local government to help them further their career and enhance their understanding of public sector management. The Foundation Degree in Public Sector and Local Government Management is a part-time course over two years and two terms which will result in a University of London qualification on successful completion. There are also courses providing the Certificate in Higher Education in Community Leadership, a two year, part-time course and a BSc in Community Development and Public Policy, a four to six year part-time course.
Birkbeck also offers an Elected Member Professional Development Postgraduate Certificate. This programme provides a postgraduate level qualification to elected members and prospective elected members in local government in London. The programme has been launched in response to the growing demand from elected members themselves, local authorities, representative organisations and central government for a more professionalised local councillor base.
The University of Birmingham will launch the first Masters programme designed to help NHS, Local Authority and other public sector managers understand the process of developing markets in the public sector, and managing commissioning relationships with external service providers. Recent reforms have made purchasing services from external providers a key part of management across the public sector. The MSc in Public Service Commissioning, run by the School of Public Policy, is designed to give senior managers working in the public sector an understanding of how commissioning functions.