Orkney signs up to public services leadership degree
Managers at Orkney Islands Council are the latest local authority employees to take classes in leading change in difficult circumstances.
The staff were visited by a lecturer as part of a new Master’s degree developed by Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh.
Dr Ian Elliott, lecturer in business at QMU, Edinburgh, managed to get to Kirkwall amid challenging weather last week as part of the university’s delivery of its new MSc in Public Services Governance, delivering a module on leading change. The programme aims to support public services leaders in developing the social and economic sustainability of the communities they serve.
Other councils taking part in this innovative collaboration are City of Edinburgh Council and Dundee City Council. Academics and council staff have designed the course together to meet unique challenges faced by the three councils.
There have been calls for strong leadership in Scottish local authorities recently, as councils look at stretched draft budgets. In evidence to a Scottish Parliament committee, Orkney Islands Council recently said pressure within children’s services was growing and funding to support care services insufficient, while Edinburgh council faces a £67m budget shortfall.
Over 50 council staff from the three local authorities are enrolled on the leadership programme, which they will study on a part-time basis over two-and-a-half years. One of its key philosophies is the concept of coaching as a fundamental component of leadership.
Elliott said: “This programme will equip staff to deliver successful outcomes in the communities they serve at a time of significant change. We commend Edinburgh City Council, Dundee City Council and Orkney Islands Council for taking a pro-active approach to developing the skills of their staff to ensure success in challenging times.”
The course builds on a postgraduate certificate in public service governance QMU recently carried out with the Welsh Government. Twenty-one Welsh public servants took part from across the country. Elliot said the Master’s degree built on QMU’s commitment to provide “socially relevant” courses.