NGDP case studies

The NGDP is a flexible programme, making it easy for councils to shape the programme in a way that both meets their needs and provides a brilliant experience for graduates.


Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council -

The NGDP recruitment process is really helpful for councils...you can be confident that at the final interview stage you’re speaking with some really great individuals."

What made you sign up to the NGDP?

Previous successes of our graduates, all of which have secured permanent roles in the Council and are progressing well with their careers. We’re sure some of our graduates have the potential to be future Chief Executives!

Would you recommend the scheme and, if so, why?

Yes, the scheme is a fantastic opportunity for councils to attract really talented, ambitious and capable graduates who not only have an immediate impact in the area they work, but more importantly a longer-term impact in terms of succession planning.

How have you found the NGDP recruitment process and support provided from the team?

The NGDP recruitment process is really helpful for councils, it’s a rigorous process and something which not all councils would be able to perform themselves. So you can be confident that at the final interview stage you’re speaking with some really great individuals. At that point its as much about promoting and attracting the candidates to come and work for you as it is about best fit.

What were your impressions of the graduates you interviewed/recruited?

All the candidates came across extremely professionally and with a wealth of transferable skills and experience which they applied in their interview answers.

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Sheffield City Council -

The programme has offered us an opportunity to re-engage and an opportunity for graduates to fast track their career within local government, fill gaps in key parts of the organisation and recruit talented graduates, including from the local area."

 What made you sign up to the NGDP?

Sheffield City Council has previously participated in the programme with our last intake in 2013. Whilst we had a break in our engagement with the NGDP, we had continued to run a successful Graduate Programme and Level 7 apprenticeship programme (Masters Level) each year, supporting graduates in specific specialisms. SCC felt that the National Graduate provided us with the opportunity to attract high quality graduates who were interested in a public sector career and who we could grow as our own future leaders.

The programme has offered us an opportunity to re-engage and an opportunity for graduates to fast track their career within local government, fill gaps in key parts of the organisation and recruit talented graduates, including from the local area. The graduates are an important element within our SCC2020 Workforce Strategy approach to Talent and Workforce Planning.

How have you found the NGDP recruitment process and support provided from the team?

The recruitment process was very well organised and fair with a high level of support provided to us as an employer. The shortlisted learners where all individuals who had selected Sheffield City Council as their first choice of Placement, this meant that the shortlisted applicants we interviewed where all of a high calibre and were passionate about working for Sheffield City Council. The recruitment process enabled us to interview and select the learners who performed best at interview and our chosen candidates were all allocated within the NGDP process to our first placement post choices.

What types of projects have you graduates undertaken?

Our Graduate opportunities are within our Customer Service; Policy, Performance and Communications; City Growth; and Housing Services and the Graduates are part of our vision, to make Sheffield a great place for people to live, work and visit.

Our opportunities are providing the graduates with an in-depth understanding of the services operation and its ambitious strategic programme and providing the opportunity to contribute to a range of projects, including the strategic change projects including homeless reduction initiatives and revised local housing policy.

Other opportunities include shaping Sheffield’s future and helping to set the overall direction for the organisation, working with Members; supporting the development of our partnerships and networks right across the city; ensuring that the organisation is engaging with and taking the needs of all of the city’s communities. This means providing expert support as needed in key areas, including equalities, consultation and engagement, performance improvement, internal and external communications campaigns, data and intelligence, as well as the development of policy and strategy.

Luton Council -

The enthusiasm of candidates is infectious – there is a level of trust in selection process, and senior managers are reminded of why they joined local government. Luton have also asked NMTs to speak at the local university, which has raised the profile of the council itself and helped to build strong links with Uni of Bedfordshire." 

What value have your graduates brought to your council?

The NMTs are useful tools and some placements have been based on council needs, but they always rise to the challenge.  

The enthusiasm of candidates is infectious – there is a level of trust in selection process, and senior managers are reminded of why they joined local government. Luton have also asked NMTs to speak at the local university, which has raised the profile of the council itself and helped to build strong links with University of Bedfordshire. This has also encouraged more BAME candidates to consider Luton Council. Martin encourages the NMTs to tell students about their time on the scheme as honest stories.

The NMTs are placed into real, meaningful roles, and projects that need doing. There are always tangible benefits to services or products after each 6-month placement.

The NMTs build a support network and even with internal mentoring, they built their own networks and need the mentors less as they progress on the scheme.  

The NMTs do real, tangible work from day one.

What were your impressions of the graduates you interviewed/recruited?

The scheme attracts national talent – candidates have already proved competency in recruitment, so the interview is about finding the best fit through the focus on Luton itself. This means that the council can test the motivation of candidates.

Luton tries to retain NMTs and is mostly successful. NMTs can be offered posts after or during the programme. There was one example of an NMT securing a hard-to-fill role in public health as it made sense corporately. They were a quality individual that might not have been found through traditional recruitment. In this way, the scheme is flexible to council needs and developing NMTs.

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Horsham District Council -

They’ve brought enthusiasm and great ideas for our services. By picking very different people in the first two years we’ve been able to give them the widest exposure across the Council."

What value have your graduates brought to your council?

Our graduates are bright in both senses. They’ve brought enthusiasm and great ideas for our services. By picking very different people in the first two years we’ve been able to give them the widest exposure across the Council. And their academic background means they’re really good at research.

What were your expectations of the programme?

I hoped to get some bright, enthusiastic younger colleagues into the Council’s ageing workforce. That’s just what the scheme has done. They’ve also taken over running our apprenticeship programme which has meant more brighter, younger people keen to work with us, whether they stay for the programme and move on or whether they seek a longer career with us.

What were your impressions of the graduates you interviewed/recruited?

Absolutely excellent. All of them. Choosing between the excellent candidates we’ve seen in the hardest part of the process.

Mike Greene, Chief Executive at Scarborough Council

Mike Greene, now Chief Executive at Scarborough Council, spoke to the LGA about his experience since his time on the National Graduates Development Programme (NGDP). Mike joined the NGDP as part of cohort 9 in 2007. His first placement took place at Bury Metropolitan Borough Council (Bury MBC) where he subsequently gained permanent employment thereafter. However, this was not Mike’s first experience of local government. He had spent a fortnight at Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council as part of his school’s work experience at the age of 16. He recalls his work experience at the council as energising and aligned with his passion to make a difference in the local community. His preference for variety in the workplace would go on to fit seamlessly with his choice to pursue a career in local government.

Following Mike’s time on the NGDP at Bury MBC, he stayed on at the host council, working on urban strategy and leading on the transformation strategy. He then progressed on to Kirklees Council as Head of Service for community safety, neighbourhoods, communities, leisure, libraries and galleries. From there, Mike moved to Tees Valley councils working in universal services and then on to Redcar and Cleveland council, working across the Neighbourhoods and Community Services directorate. Mike’s current role is Chief Executive of Scarborough Borough Council, which he started in 2019.

During the span of Mike’s career, his portfolio expanded considerably as he moved roles and he has now worked in nearly all council service areas. This breadth of experience, kickstarted on the NGDP, is what he feels has helped him to progress in his career so quickly. Making the initial move from Bury MBC to Kirklees Council, he describes as ‘making a great jump’. A jump facilitated by the set of core skills that enabled him to be flexible and adaptable, and to work as a key facilitator across organisations. Mike’s time on the programme allowed him to experience workplace variety from strategic, policy work, to on the ground, front line delivery. The NGDP encouraged and embedded building resilience at a time of austerity, when scaling back and making efficiencies was the norm. He was able to build a network of contacts with whom he remains in contact with to this day.

So, what would Mike give as advice to new and potential NGDP graduates? Joining the programme is a time to explore your own skills and experiences. Being on the programme enables you to come in with a fresh set of eyes and provide insight and understanding from a new perspective. You can ask the basic questions and challenge the norm. Be proactive in seeking out challenges and opportunities to learn, whether that’s arranging a few days of shadowing with a senior colleague or volunteering to work on a big project. Being a graduate employee enables space to ‘put yourself out there’ in a way that isn’t always possible when you’re employed on contract or permanent basis. Reach out to politicians, it’s important to understand the governance and politics behind large projects in order to produce beneficial outcomes. 

Finally, we asked Mike why he would encourage chief executives to sign up their councils to NDGP? This programme helps to invest, shape and provide the leaders of the future. It is a sustainable way to support training graduates from within the sector for the sector.