The Civic Centre in Pontypool
Torfaen Council's Civic Centre

MORE than 1,000 employees of Torfaen Council live outside its borough boundaries – prompting a call for a local recruitment drive. 

Cllr Alan Slade, who represents Llantarnam Ward in Cwmbran, made the plea when the full council approved a revised workforce strategy to cover the period 2023 to 2028. 

This sets out how the council will support its staff, including a wellbeing framework, and how it will offer training, plan for management and leadership changes, and recruit including through apprenticeships. 

Cllr Slade said he would like to see more people who live within Torfaen, which is bordered by heavily populated areas including Newport, within easy commuting distance, working for the authority. 

The independent councillor said: “I was quite surprised to find that 42 per cent of full-time equivalent posts don’t live in Torfaen, that amounts to about 1,468 people. Can we do some recruitment to encourage more local people to work for the local authority?” 

Jason Lewis, the council’s corporate services director, said the council does plan to target recruitment at young people within the borough which it also hopes will help it deal with UK-wide recruitment shortages. 

Tina Hulme, the council’s human resources manager, said it currently working with school pupils to redesign its employment website to build understanding of careers in local government and the employment market. 

Two Locks Ward member Collette Thomas said she said she was “very pleased” the strategy states the council will work with schools, colleges and the looked-after children’s team to encourage young people to work for the authority. 

The Labour councillor said: “It’s very important we give looked-after children the opportunity to join the council.” 

Blaenavon Ward independent councillor Janet Jones asked if the council would consider people with additional learning needs as apprentices and said: “Very few employers are willing to take them on.” 

Mr Lewis said that was a matter “close to my heart” and said it is increasingly difficult for people with learning difficulties to finding work in local government. 

He said these problems included requiring qualifications that aren’t needed and said: “Part of this is looking very closely at how we can recruit and not have unnecessary barriers.” 

The director also said the council also tries to make sure there isn’t “inherent bias” in its recruitment process after he was asked by Labour cabinet member for corporate governance Peter Jones what was being done to encourage diversity in the workplace. 

Stuart Ashley, Labour member for Pontnewydd Ward, said he has personally urged people to work for the council. He said: “I have encouraged people in the ward and family to get a job with the borough, we are still one of the biggest employers around here.”