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National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) – 2022/23 highlights

The National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) is our flagship national graduate programme for local government. The NGDP offers a unique opportunity to place high quality graduates in councils across the country, helping them to meet strategic goals and build a pipeline of future talent.


Every year, the NGDP attracts thousands of applications from graduates across the country, and we run a rigorous, multi-stage recruitment process to select the highest calibre graduates to work in councils. Once on the two-year programme, graduates complete placements across a variety of council services and undertake a prestigious learning and development programme, equipping them with the skills and experience to fast-track their careers in local government.

In 2022/23, the NGDP recruited its 24th cohort of graduates who were placed in 75 councils across England and Wales. We successfully grew the programme by signing up new councils in areas with lower representation on the programme, recruited a diverse cohort of graduates and implemented recommendations of an independent review to improve accessibility on the NGDP.




During 2022/23 the programme achieved the following key highlights:

  • 212 graduates were recruited to the NGDP – this is the largest cohort to date and an increase of 35 places compared with the previous year
  • 19 more councils signed up to the NGDP, including new councils from areas that have traditionally had lower numbers of NGDP graduates, increasing the number of councils taking part to 75 and increasing the regional spread of councils on the programme
  • we continued to increase diversity on the NGDP, with 28 per cent of those recruited to Cohort 24 identifying as Black, Asian or minority ethnic
  • 91 per cent of respondents who finished the NGDP in 2022 said they were likely to recommend the NGDP to others
  • 87 per cent of respondents who finished the NGDP in 2022 said they were satisfied with the programme and 80% said participation in the programme has had a positive impact on their career.



Case study – Cambridgeshire County Council’s experience of the NGDP

Jayne Low is the NGDP Placement Coordinator at Cambridgeshire County Council. She shared her reflections on the council’s experience of the programme over the last ten years:

“Cambridgeshire County Council have been committed to the NGDP graduate scheme for over 10 years. Most of our graduates secure permanent positions within the council at the end of the scheme. In 2022, we recruited four more graduates as part of cohort 24. The process for taking part in the NGDP is so easy. I receive regular newsletters and updates to keep me informed of all aspects of the scheme. I have signed up to be part of the buddy system for new councils too, so I feel involved and always willing to support where I can.

"If you haven’t been part of the scheme before the NGDP for councils webpage gives you the information you need. As Placement Coordinator, I and other interview panel members are constantly thrilled by the calibre of the interviewees. Over the two-year period it is fantastic to see the different areas each graduate gets to work in and contribute to and watch how their confidence grows Over the years our National Management Trainees (NMTs) have worked across the county council in areas including public health, adult social care, libraries, education, our outdoor centres, transport, the waste team, net zero and climate emergency team, and others. All have been enabled to lead on projects particularly where change is involved. As well as gaining a real insight into how the council works on a day-to-day basis, there is always opportunity for partnership-working. Mid- and end-of-placement reviews support the NMTs to assess themselves against the development framework – showing progress and any gaps which we can then focus on for future placements. Because the NMTs are valued across the organisation they are exposed to high priority projects.

"At Cambridgeshire County Council we have former NGDP graduates in various services who closely support our current cohorts with placement queries and helping identify career opportunities I would highly recommend the NGDP to other councils. The structure helps to manage within the workplace and the team at NGDP are always available to offer support and guidance.”

Cambridgeshire County Council’s Assistant Director of HR, Janet Atkin, added:

“The NGDP scheme has been a hugely successful programme for us in Cambridgeshire, producing a rich supply of talented people every year who make a tangible and positive contribution to the work that we do, with many of them securing permanent roles either with us or our partners in the area. The calibre of applicants is impressive, and the scheme forms a key part of the approach to developing our leaders of the future”.

Access more NGDP case studies