Elected councilors are responsible for making decisions about a wide range of issues in their local communities, including setting budgets, children's services, leisure facilities and the environment. Local government committee administrators, often referred to as committee administrators, are paid local government officers that provide support before, during and after meetings called to discuss these issues.
Meetings may be attended by:
A number of councilors (committee members) with special interest and responsibility for the issue under discussion.
Paid officers from relevant local government departments.
Representatives of other organisations and members of the public.
It is the committee administrator's responsibility to make sure that everyone participating in the meeting knows where and when it is to be held and to keep an accurate record of all proceedings. Playing a key role in ensuring the democratic processes are followed, typical duties may include:
Committee administrators usually work 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Meetings often take place in the evening, but councils usually offer flexible working arrangements to compensate for working outside normal office hours and may give time off in lieu or pay an attendance allowance. Part-time work or job sharing is sometimes available.
Committee administrators work in town halls, civic centres or council offices in towns and cities. They are usually office-based, but will also be required to attend meetings at other venues.
Salaries for committee administrators start at around £18,000 a year. These may rise to between £20,000 and £29,000 a year with experience.
More than 4,000 people work in committee administration roles within local government in the UK. They are employed in all types of local authority.
Vacancies are advertised in the local press, the jobs bulletins and websites of individual local authorities, the public sector printed and digital recruitment magazine Opportunities and at www.lgjobs.com, the local government recruitment website.
There are no minimum educational requirements to become a committee administrator. However, many councils require candidates to have GCSE's (A*-C) including English and maths, or equivalent qualifications. Candidates with experience of working in administration, particularly within local government, may have an advantage.
The Diploma in business, administration and finance and the Diploma in public services may be relevant to this area of work.
Some candidates may hold qualifications in public administration or related fields, such as public services or public management. A large number of institutions throughout the UK offer courses in public administration at foundation degree, Higher National Diploma (HND), degree and Masters degree levels. The Council for Administration (CfA) has information about foundation degrees at www.breakinto.biz.
Entry to degree courses is usually five GCSE's (A*-C) and a minimum of two A levels, or equivalent. Entry to HND and foundation degree courses is usually with four GCSE's (A*-C) and one A level, or equivalent. Entry requirements may vary, so candidates should check with individual colleges or universities.
Following the completion of a degree there is the potential to progress onto a Masters degree in public administration, lasting one year full time or two years part time.
Committee administration is becoming more of a graduate profession. As well as public administration, relevant degree subjects include English, politics and law.
Committee administrators are in politically restricted posts, under the Local Government and Housing Act 1989, which states that applicants for jobs must not hold office in a political party.
Initial training is usually on the job. Many employers offer in-house structured training programme's, giving access to short internal or external courses covering ICT, administrative and meeting facilitation skills.
There is also an emphasis on continuing professional development (CPD) and career progression. The Institute for Professional Administrators provides a voluntary CPD scheme for members. Under this new scheme, committee administrators can submit evidence of their CPD activities and are awarded credits, which can lead to IPA issuing a certificate.
Although many staff have experience and relevant qualifications in public administration prior to entry, some committee administrators enter at a trainee level. Employers may encourage administrators to undertake relevant qualifications. These might include:
These qualifications can be studied part-time or by distance-learning.
The National Extension College (NEC) runs a week-long residential course for committee administrators. It is designed to improve knowledge and understanding of democratic services and covers the core competencies for the NVQ's Levels 3 and 4 in democratic services. Two tutor marked assignments need to be completed before attending the course and entrants must have six months' experience of working in committee administration.
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A local government committee administrator needs:
Experienced committee administrators may be promoted to roles with more responsibility, perhaps providing support for larger committees or full council meetings. They may also oversee applications for grants and funding, deal with complaints and liaise directly with local media on behalf of elected members.
Opportunities for promotion are usually better in larger local authorities. The most senior post in most local authorities is clerk to the council.
Committee administrators may also undertake specialist training and progress to become a chartered company secretary, reporting to board members on issues like corporate governance, compliance and other regulatory frameworks.
The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators,
16 Park Crescent, London W1B 1AH
Tel: 020 7580 4741
Institute for Professional Administrators (IPA),
6 Graphite Square, Vauxhall Walk,
London SE11 5EE
Tel: 020 7091 2606
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.