First Public Sector Leadership conference of its kind launched in partnership with two Greater Manchester Councils

14th December 2020

At the beginning of December, Apprenticeships at Salford City College proudly launched Digital Leadership Conference Week. The conference is the first of its kind, and was an exciting feature of the new Public Sector Leadership Programme, designed in partnership with Salford City Council and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council. The programme is a unique development opportunity for managers to gain first-hand access to Senior Leaders within both organisations and benefit from their vision, insight and experience.  The course content has been developed closely with both organisations to inspire excellence in public sector leadership. Participants are able to achieve either a Level 3 or 5 apprenticeship, including an accredited qualification through ILM.

The conference was delivered virtually over three days to over 80 apprentices, leaders and associates. Apprentices heard from their Chief Executive Officers and senior leaders about their leadership journeys, what leadership means to them, and their vision of the future for leaders. The final day closed with a highly engaging and inspiring session by leadership developer, Rene Barrett, who spoke about building high performing teams through kindness, positivity and resilience.  The conference offered opportunities for apprentices to reflect on the sessions in small breakout rooms, to encourage discussion and networking with colleagues across both organisations

Jim Taylor, CEO Salford City Council, set the scene opening the conference with a fascinating reflection of his own experience of leadership within the public sector. “Leadership is action, not a position; what you do and how you behave is instrumental in developing a positive culture.”

Jim Taylor, CEO Salford City Council

Leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic was a running theme throughout the conference, and how adaptability is crucial for effective leadership. HR leaders Tracy Brennand (Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council) and Sam Betts (Salford City Council) opened Wednesday’s conference with an enlightening session on ‘The Future of Work’. Tracy Brennand, Assistant Director for HR & Organisational Development at Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, explained: “Leadership has certainly come to the fore over the last year. Leaders old and new have had to adapt their style and approach, allowing others to navigate the challenges and accepting that we don’t always have the answers, we have to be bold and reach out to others to ensure that we are able to lead and support others through a crisis.”

Steven Pleasant, CEO of Tameside Council, opened the final day of the conference with his insight into leadership. “Leadership is changing. The job I do now is very different from the job I did ten years ago when I started my role as a Chief Executive. It is about people, their emotions, their drivers, their motivations, it’s a hands-on thing. If I’ve learned anything about leadership, it is that it is fundamentally about empowering people, giving them the permissions and the tools to lead.

Head of Apprenticeships, Allan Milne, hosted the conference over the three days and said: “All week, the sessions were inspiring, thought provoking and interactive. It was wonderful to see the participants enthusiasm and I particularly enjoyed their reflections and contributions. From the fantastic feedback we know attendees have been given a refreshed outlook, taking away innovative leadership skills to apply in their practice.”

Here’s what some of our apprentices had to say:

“The speakers were inspirational. All of the discussions were relevant to my role and my course.  It was excellent to see the vision directly from the executive leaders.”

“All three sessions have promoted me to reflect on my own practices and made me look at ways to improve my leadership skills.”  

I feel inspired to become a better leader and feel I have gained a better perspective of what a leader is.”

If you are interested in finding out more about the Public Sector Leadership Programme, then contact the Apprenticeships at Salford City College team on: 0161 631 5555 or

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