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Attracting passive talent for in-demand skill sets in Local Government - what can you do differently?

As I reflect upon my first three months at here Penna, my first thought is that I’m not entirely sure how that time has flown by…or, where it’s gone. Soon after, it shifts to planning and trying to predict what’s in store for the local government job market in the new financial year ahead. Is there cause for optimism, or are we in store for another challenging year? In truth, for me, the answer lies in a bit of both.

I’ve worked with local government for the best part of ten years, and have since been welcomed so warmly into Penna’s family. I have loved the time I’ve had to get to know my colleagues, it was incredible and refreshing to observe their quality, level of experience and genuine passion and dedication to help the public navigate recruitment challenges together. I know that I have arrived at the right place!

From the conversations I’ve been having with our clients across Local Government these last few months, a few common recurring themes have emerged. These range from the ongoing political uncertainty to the need for digital transformation and modernisation. However, one of the most pressing topics seems to be how to best navigate the current financial constraints with the need to deliver essential services to a high standard. Attracting and securing the right talent to meet these demands is a particularly pressing concern.

With the pressure to ensure that council budgets are spent wisely, decisions will need to be made to determine the best approach to tackle those harder-to-fill positions. Historically, a well-crafted job advert alone might have done the trick, but in the current climate, it may not always generate either the desired volume or quality of candidates that it once used to.

Why is this? Taking stock and analysing what was learnt from the job trends of the previous financial year, I would fully expect the employment market to continue becoming even more constricted and candidate-driven than ever before, with demand for highly sought-after skillsets drastically outstripping supply. When delving into specific job disciplines, numerous factors at play have contributed to the shape of the current landscape in which we find ourselves.

The Environmental Health market has been challenged for several years by the declining number of qualified officers coming through the educational system. According to the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), 56% of councils reported vacancies remaining unfilled for more than six months, with 87% of employers relying on agency cover to deliver their service.

It’s well known that there is a national housing crisis in the UK, which has created notable challenges for first-time buyers, private-sector renters and additionally to vulnerable tenants in social housing. With a spiralling need for qualified housing staff up and down the country, in what was already historically known to be a high staff turnover job market, the strain this has put on both council and housing association services has not been emphasised enough. Considering the ongoing Affordable Homes Programme (AFP) set to deliver 180,000 new homes for social renters and supported housing by 2026, it is worth considering the staffing levels required to ensure the delivery of the programme.

These are just three examples of areas where there are notable staffing challenges in local government, adding to the nationwide shortage of social workers and the recent changes in building regulations that have subsequently created even further pressures on what was an already dwindling talent pool of qualified Building Control Officers.

According to research conducted by LinkedIn, 70% of potential employees are not actively seeking a new role. So, if they are not actively looking, it’s more than likely that a considerable portion of the talent pool might not even see a prospective job advert, irrespective of where or how it is published. Do you have a strategy and plan in place to reach them?

Penna’s Candidate Sourcing offers a cost-effective and targeted solution for addressing the recruitment challenges associated with filling permanent positions, particularly in the £35-£75k salary bracket. Serving as Sourcing Lead within our Candidate Sourcing team James Miller is ready to assist you with your recruitment requirements. Connect with James below, or contact our team at to explore how we can support your needs further:

James Miller – Sourcing Lead, Candidate Sourcing

James Miller

LinkedIn: James Miller


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