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Bridging the Gap: Solutions for Local Government's Recruitment Conundrums and Economic Development

Amidst the current kaleidoscope of political change there remains a consistent demand for commercial growth and economic development skills to underpin financial, trade and industry success and more significantly to prop up local government community and financial sustainability.

In 2023 place-based roles accounted for 31% of demand in all jobs advertised in The MJ – higher than social care requirements. In 2024 it stands at 21% of demand.

There is also a continuing Whitehall trend for a systematic demand for local government to competitively bid and then subsequently deliver sustainable and community led economic development. To support this emerging Combined Authority, Mayoral models and larger Council co-operation arguably bring scale and significance to regional strategic decision making. The ever-increasing number of intervention Governmental policies for example Levelling Up, Community Levelling Up and UK Shared Prosperity Fund with a plethora of City and County deals shape the landscape for accessing and addressing the gap between local delivery and national imperatives. This structure grows more complex daily as well as the way local authorities subsequently need to deliver strong economic outcomes.

Councils also struggle with the ever-increasing pressure on local government finances. Managing and balancing the tension to maintain and preserve the ability to deliver core and statutory services, sometimes described in resourcing terms as “essential”, with the compelling but “desirable” need to invest in increasingly expensive non-statutory services like economic development. Depending on where the Council is on their economic development journey the pinch point of which skills to recruit to change dramatically. At one end, this might require the sharper, shorter-term and much needed competitive national bid winning know-how. Paradoxically, exceptional delivery, programme management and sustained benefits realisation are required to deliver the economic gains. Very different skills and no clear career progression between these important areas of proficiency.

As a consequence, one of the biggest resourcing challenges for Councils building economic development teams is understanding where to prioritise the Service skills, particularly as Councils and the various Boards that support economic development vary greatly in what they currently do. It’s therefore sometimes difficult to gauge the value they add and understanding the contribution and impact they make. For candidates too, there is a lack of a clear career pathway within the many varied economic development services and teams.

We’re currently working with an Innovation Growth Board (one of the first in the UK) which has evolved as a consequence of the Government’s commitment to wider and accelerated devolution linked to the integration of a Local Enterprise Partnership to a Business Board which ultimately results in more private sector influence and control. This also further increases the different types of organisations at play and further complicating the role that local government has and the resource base skills and experience they should hire.

Middle management

Demand for middle management and technical expertise in this space is high, with requirements right across economic development services - planning, regeneration, transport, capital projects, and environment.

The field of economic development involves crucial aspects of local government that directly impact all local residents and businesses. While the recruitment landscape for roles in this sector has always been challenging due to limited talent pools, the post-pandemic scenario has witnessed a notable shift. Many candidates are now opting for the contractor market, with higher salaries and faster pace of delivery, resulting in an even more constrained pool of qualified and experienced professionals for permanent positions.


George Agyemang and Pete John are both Leads for Place in Executive Interim and Executive Search. Jon Dilling is Head of Business Development for Sourcing. Connect with our team now to find out how we can help you with your recruitment needs.


George Agyemang – Lead for Place, Executive Interim

LinkedIn: George Agyemang



Pete John – Lead for Place, Executive Search

LinkedIn: Pete John



Jon Dilling - Head of Business Development, Candidate Sourcing

LinkedIn: Jon Dilling



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