By Mike Thatcher | 1 February 2013
Public bodies in Nottinghamshire received more than 800 applications for an innovative training scheme that allows finance staff to work across different employers.
Up to eight graduate trainees will be employed and funded to study for their CIPFA qualification while working for the county council, six local district councils, the police authority, and the fire and rescue service. Training is to be provided by Nottingham Trent University’s business school.
‘The fact we have had so many applications tells its own story,’ Paul Simpson, director of finance and procurement at Nottinghamshire County Council, told Public Finance. ‘The way the graduate recruitment market is now, we should be able to attract high-calibre candidates.’
The applications are part of a wider regional programme, with 247 people choosing Nottinghamshire as their first, and a further 587 selecting it as second, third or fourth choice.
The Nottinghamshire scheme is similar to one set up in 2003 by the Society of London Treasurers. But the London programme is focused on joint recruitment, with trainees working solely for one borough. The Nottinghamshire trainees will rotate across the nine participating bodies.
‘If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. We need to challenge traditional ways of thinking and bring in new ideas,’ said Simpson.
The county council will manage the scheme, with the other employers paying it a proportionate contribution for salaries and training fees. The successful candidates are likely to start working from June, and will be employed on a 3.5-year, fixed-term contract.
‘This is a really good example of the public sector working together,’ Simpson added. ‘It demonstrates that if people really want to, and there is a strong business case, they can work in partnership.’
He suggested the scheme could be replicated across the country. ‘We’ve already had interest from other local authorities. We believe it’s a great way of bringing the next generation of talent through.’
Simpson told PF that the Nottinghamshire scheme could also be expanded to include local public audit firms and NHS bodies.
He added: ‘I would love to get health on board – that would be a fantastic achievement and would boost the impact of the initiative.’