Local government community development officers (CDOs) have the role of improving the quality of life for various groups in the community. They have to involve themselves with different council departments, such as parks, healthcare, community learning, housing and social services.
Community development is closely linked to regeneration and in some local authorities is covered by the same department.
An urban-based local government CDO would encourage social inclusion. This is a feature of government policy for community development, which attempts to prevent issues such as unemployment, discrimination, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing and family breakdown combining to create problems in the community. They would do this by:
In rural or remote areas the CDO might combat geographical isolation and depopulation by:
In general, a CDO will be expected to
CDOs usually work 37 hours a week, but there might be some visits to groups in the evenings or at weekends. Most councils offer flexible hours, sometimes by a part-time or job-sharing contract. An increasing number operate flexitime schemes.
A CDO is based in an office, but may also spend a lot of time at meetings in community halls, day centres or perhaps in the homes of members of the local community.
CDOs may dress casually when, for example, meeting local neighbourhood groups, but perhaps more formally for steering group meetings.
The starting salary for a CDO is about £15,000 a year.
CDOs can work for a local authority, a contracted-out organisation or for a community agency - in the city or in rural areas. They can also work for external agencies such as the ODPM, and for voluntary and not-for-profit organisations that often provide similar services to those working for local government. Vacancies are generally increasing as local authorities allocate a higher priority to social inclusion.
Job vacancies are advertised in Jobcentre Plus offices, on local council websites, in national newspapers, in professional journals and on the official website for local government recruitment: www.lgjobs.com.
CDOs who will be working with children or other vulnerable groups, will need to have their background checked by the Criminal Records Bureau or by Disclosure Scotland and obtain an Enhanced Disclosure Form.
Most local authorities request that prospective employees complete a questionnaire about their medical history, and in some cases a medical examination may be required.
There is no one single entry route into this career. Some vacancies for CDOs ask for a specified number of GCSE's/S grades, some ask for A Levels/H grades, while others ask for a degree, preferably in a subject related to the particular project, such as social studies, housing or education.
Most entrants will be trained on the job and it may be possible to work towards NVQ's/SVQ's at Levels 2, 3 and 4 in a range of community development topics.
Some local authorities also operate a formal staff development system which involves the employee progressing under the regular supervision of a manager appointed to this role.
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Roustabouts do basic tasks to help keep the rig and platform working efficiently and Roughnecks do practical tasks involved in the drilling operation, under the supervision of the driller.
Community Development Officers should have:
There may be opportunities for promotion to community development coordinator or community development manager. These posts are often advertised in regular bulletins produced by local authorities. Sometimes these internal vacancies are available only to serving local government employees.
CDOs can also go on to specialise in particular areas such as youth work, adult learning, regeneration or diversity.
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