The 21st century public servant and 21st century councillor

The 21st Century Councillor

  • What is the range of roles that the 21st Century Councillor is required to perform?
  • What are the competencies and skills that councillors require to undertake these roles?
  • What are the support and training requirements of these roles?

 These are the broad research questions used in a project on the role of the 21st councillor, published on 13th July 2016. The questions mirror those asked in the 21st Century Public Servant project and it is intended that the two projects are seen as interrelated rather than standalone pieces of work. Findings and resources from both parts of the research are available at

 The report reflects on the roles that councillors are playing, or recognise that they will need to be playing, within their organisations and localities. It explains why these roles are emerging as the key contributions for councillors, and then explores councillor careers and development, to consider how councillors can be supported to perform these roles effectively.

The 21st Century Councillor research builds on the successful 21st Century Public Servant project (2013) and the University of Birmingham Policy Commission (2011) into the Future of Local Public Services. These projects saw a significant amount of interest from practitioners, identifying the need to pay attention to the changing roles undertaken by people working in public services, and the associated support and development requirements.

 During 2016 a parallel research programme focused on the 21st Century Councillor. North West Employers (Employers’ Organisation for the 41 local authorities in the North West of England) supported the work by facilitating access to elected councillors and organising regional events to share the findings. The findings are being with councillors in other regions, and with the LGA-SOLACE-PPMA 21st Century Public Servant steering group to ensure that the themes have resonance outside of particular regional contexts.

PSA received ESRC funding to collaborate with University of Melbourne to research the future roles and skills needed for public servants.  This has generated a huge amount of interest within the local government sector.  Now a national steering group, comprising the Local Government Association, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and the Public Service People Manager's Association, several local councils and the University of Birmingham, is seeking to develop practical support for councils wanting to implement the 21C public servant research.


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