The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) represents the interests of local government and promotes local democracy in Wales. It represents the 22 local authorities in Wales and the 4 police authorities, 3 fire and rescue authorities and 3 national park authorities are associate members. The WLGA’s primary purposes are to promote better local government and its reputation and to support authorities in the development of policies and priorities which will improve public services and democracy.
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Education and training
Because local authorities are independent locally autonomous organisations, they may well offer different solutions to personal and professional development. In Wales, this translates into the potential for 22 different approaches. Each local authority will not only need to respond to professional (occupational) needs but also to the needs of the business and the community it serves, delivered in line with whatever corporate policies exist. With this being the case there follows a generic overview. Ultimately this encourages professionals to refer to their employing authority to determine and agree the most appropriate personal development solutions.
Many local authorities will have training and development policies which will outline their commitment to the training and development of all staff. In house development will often focus on the development of generic or common skills such as ICT or management for example, whereas external programmes are often used to develop specialist knowledge and skills.
In relation to more specialist public health activity - local authorities will often utilise training and development opportunities provided by lead bodies, education and training providers, subscribing to CPD schemes or purchasing professional development programmes and events as necessary from organisations such as Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACoRS), Public Health Wales, Food Standards Agency (FSA), training providers and higher education institutions.
Leadership and management
Many local authorities have their own leadership and management programmes, some of which are delivered in house; this will be the primary source of leadership and management development to support progression into these roles.
In addition professional associations and lead bodies such as LACoRS will often offer leadership and management development programmes, for example the LACoRS Leadership programme for local government, which also attracts a bursary.
Some local authorities may also provide support to those seeking to undertake external programmes and higher level professional qualifications.
Secondments and wider links
Most local authorities provide work placement opportunities and may also offer secondments, some of which might include working in another discipline, for another local authority, in another organisation within the Welsh public service or further afield. Each local authority will have its own policy in relation to work placements and secondments. Individual local authorities (often for short term and specific learning) and the Welsh local Government Association (longer term placement) act as training locations for Specialist Registrars in Public Health, training to become Consultants in Public Health.
Professional associations and other lead bodies will often have wider links that promote the sharing of practice, one such example is the twinning of the CIEH Wales region with the Rwanda Association of Environmental Health through the Wales for Africa programme.
Local Government tends to link with Higher Education Institutions, training providers, professional and other bodies, including Sector Skills Councils (SSCs), which offer or inform public health education and training programmes. The Welsh Local Government Association contributed to the validation of a new MSc in Applied Public Health at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff. The programme will start in September 2009 and is ideally suited to those wishing to stay in local government, maximising the public health potential of their roles.
Local authorities will often offer work placement opportunities to those seeking a career in public health disciplines such as Environmental Health. A directory of student placement opportunities in Environmental Health can be found on the CIEH Wales site.
Who do I contact in my Local Authority about professional development?
Line managers will always be the first point of contact for any professional development enquiries, and further information, including any specific policies, can be sought from local authority Human Resource and/or Training departments.
Most local authorities will have annual reviews or appraisals with staff, undertaken by line managers, where professional development needs are agreed and often detailed in a personal development plan (PDP) or similar. These processes often form the basis for any agreed professional development activity.
Bursaries and other support for professional development in public health can be accessed through the Wales Centre for Health Workforce Development Programme. Information can be found on the Public Health Wales website and through the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
Local authorities may also choose to fund or provide a financial contribution towards professional development from their own budgets. It is unlikely that a universal policy will exist as needs are often assessed individually and in relation to the demands of the service, therefore any professional development, including funding, would need to be discussed and agreed with line managers and Human resource and/or Training Departments.