Graduate jobs in local government

Each year thousands of graduates take their first steps into the jobs market with local government.

Whether moving up the ranks or taking positions elsewhere, local government has always been a valuable mainstay of the graduate recruitment market as well as a vital means by which the regions retain graduate talent.

There are many interesting and useful functions that councils run which graduates may expect to work in, from high profile roles in service delivery to planning and regeneration work, not forgetting the myriad of general office jobs.

The abundance of variety meant that the severity of the cuts to local councils dealt a particularly hard blow to the graduate labour market, and the talent pipeline across the UK.

While the number of graduates getting jobs in local government severely declined after the reduction in funding was announced, we have started to see some recovery. However the recent announcement of a fresh wave of cuts means that while the labour market won’t necessarily feel the immediate effects, opportunities for graduates are likely to shrink next year.

So, what types of jobs are graduates finding work in?

The most common roles for graduates to hold in local government are as social workers, educational assistants, primary teachers, general office assistants and civil service administrative admin officers and assistants. And the regions were graduates are more likely to find work in local government are London, Scotland, Wales as well as the South East and North West.

The positions that have been least affected by the funding cuts, experiencing some growth, are educational assistants, primary teachers, youth workers, secondary school teachers and building surveyors. Unsurprisingly it is students that studied social work, education, sports science, psychology and building surveying that are getting jobs in these professions. What’s interesting is how often social work graduates find jobs in these areas.

It could be due to the number of graduates finding work as social workers in these industries had reduced by almost half between 2008/09 and 2010/11 and they are now possibly finding opportunities in alternative occupations. This demonstrates the flexibility of graduates and how they successfully carve out a career path despite difficult times.

Tips for getting on the career ladder:

Have a plan B – just because you’re a social work graduate it doesn’t mean that you have to find a role in this area. Consider where your interests and skills can be applied elsewhere

Be mobile – Ideally you would get a job in a city of your choice, near friends or family. But, this isn’t always possible as some areas are better for certain types of jobs than others. Consider relocation to make the most of the available opportunities

Use careers services – this valuable resource is often overlooked, use them for advice and guidance in career planning and job hunting

For graduate career advice visit

Charlie Ball is deputy director of research at the Higher Education Careers Services Unit.

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