29th August 2013:
Over the years this blog has been a champion of two purportedly opposite points of view; firstly that experience within local government is incredibly important (and the rate at which we are losing it in the current contraction is therefore concerning) and secondly that new ideas, innovation and youth is much needed in a sector that can, at times, appear deeply sclerotic.
I have been reflecting on these two competing positions recently for two reasons; firstly as I reflect on my own work and career and secondly as I talk about other staff and ideas that we might want to employ or deploy. The odd thing is that my answer seems to change depending on whether I’m thinking about my own career or thinking about other people’s careers and ideas.
Let’s start with my career; I am aware more than ever of the gap between the skills I have as opposed to my relative lack of experience and the impact that this will have on my ability to deploy those skills to maximum effect. Much of this challenge is around decision making. Having the skills to do something, or the ability to work out what to do is very different from doing that thing. Whether it’s leading a project, managing staff, dealing with political situations or just working out the best way to achieve whatever you want to it is undeniable that having experience of doing those things is invaluable.
And thus, following this logic, if you want to do well as a local government officer getting that wide range of experience is absolutely essential. For me the awareness of the things I have not been exposed to, or had experience of, represents a big gap in my CV and something that needs to be rectified to enable the skills and knowledge I have developed to come to the fore.