Learning and development

James Biddlestone: Learning and development in local government

Councils across the country have been praised for their handling of the Covid-19 pandemic thanks to their efforts and responses, with the public showing much admiration for council staff.

The pandemic has put leadership and the importance of it at the forefront of the public’s agenda and one council continued to value the importance of the learning and development of its staff during this time.

That is Nottinghamshire’s Mansfield District Council, whose Head of People and Transformation, James Biddlestone will be speaking at PSE365’s Learning & Development virtual event on Wednesday 9 June.

Mr Biddlestone, who has been working in local government for nearly 17 years in various roles, will be speaking during the Leaders’ Debate 3 – Learning and Development panel.

His current remit covers fundamental corporate services, including human resources, learning and development, ICT, marketing and communications, customer services and the authority’s business transformation unit.

Part of council’s corporate leadership team, Mr Biddlestone’s team focusses on the transformation and innovation of organisations and services provided.

This includes internal staff development, wider community development on digital upskilling, the digital divide, modern innovative solutions and systems for officers, as well as providing better services for residents.

Mr Biddlestone said that workforce planning data and looking at critical roles and critical skillset have been vital in responding to the pandemic, he added:

“In light of what we’ve been through with managing the pandemic and using workforce profile data, we’ve started to really look at and do skills gap analysis or where we need the development of skills, which have really come to light in supporting the pandemic.

“And looking at critical roles and the development of what roles and what leadership or development skills are required to deliver these critical roles in the organisation.”

During his speech, Mr Biddlestone will speak about Mansfield Council’s programme of development leadership sessions, which have continued during the pandemic.

Working with Solace (local government and public sector members’ network), they have produced a case study aligned to the programme and looks at how it would have been easy to stop corporate leadership development sessions during Covid-19, but how it was a critical business decision to continue.

He will discuss, how vital this was, the case study and what benefit the authority got out of it, even during such a demanding time.


Listen to James and a host of other expert speakers at our PSE365 ‘Learning & Development’ virtual event on 9 June 2021. Register to attend here.

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