Public Health Online Resource for Careers, Skills and Training

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General information

Finding the principal local councils throughout the UK

Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA)
The IDeA works with councils to support partnerships and develop good practice through networks, online resources, and support from councillor and officer peers. 

More information.


Education and training


Education and training opportunities for public health staff in councils in England

An increasing number of local authorities in partnership with their PCTs (the two are not always co-terminus) offer education / training in public health issues. Some areas have joint ‘public service employee’ training programmes. Specialist staff in local authorities often receive specific training in their roles – health trainers, community health workers, community nutritionists, sports and leisure staff working on exercise or rehab programmes.

Other than these, the main opportunities are through Councils’ ‘in-house’ training programmes and induction schemes for new staff.

Arrangements for personal development

All local authorities have some form of individual development / appraisal / review for all staff. Typically these are annual reviews with a formal structure / process, usually with a six-month review. At these, past performance, future targets or activities, training and personal development needs are discussed, an action plan drawn up and agreed.

Contacts between local authorities and educational bodies

All local authorities are different in this respect. Top-tier councils are ‘Local Education Authorities’ with overall responsibility for the provision of education up to the age of 18 and continuing and community education. Local authorities often have close relationships with nearby Further Education Colleges and send staff to these for vocational / professional training. Some local authorities have relationships with Universities and Higher Education establishments. Some local authority employees will be taking degrees, doing post graduate courses and professional qualifications as part of their training (social workers, accountants, planners, Environmental Health Officers (EHOs), TSOs etc.) and many will be ‘sponsored’ and/or funded by their local authority.

Do local authorities in England fund out of their own monies?

See above. This will depend in individual circumstances or the policies on training in individual local authorities.

Getting access to secondment or development

Councils usually have a procedure to apply for secondment / development opportunities. These will range from fully supported (if linked to certain jobs) to the opportunity to take unpaid leave for personal development. Individual circumstances will dictate.

Some bigger local authorities run ‘in-house’ leadership / management training courses, others do this jointly with neighbouring local authorities or other public bodies. Some offer places on ‘external’ leadership programmes. As far as general training / development for employees is concerned, most local authorities offer a mix of in-house, external provider, Further Education and Higher Education courses, as well as opportunities to be coached, mentored, work-shadow etc.

How do I find out who to contact in my Local Authority about professional development?

The usual approach would be to discuss with your line manager. If a request for funding or secondment for personal development or to attend a course is required there will usually be a process to apply for this (mostly requiring your line manager’s support). Many local authorities’ Organisational Development or Training Departments will be able to advise you on the types of training / development opportunities available and your council’s Human Resources Department will be able to advise you on how to apply for support / funding.

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