Straightening and strengthening the backbone

Already strained municipalities are faced with a “silver tsunami” of local government officials who soon become eligible for retirement. An obvious solution to address not only this issue but other issues facing local government is to recruit young and promising employees and graduates, while growing and developing in-house talent.

Municipalities, however, often lack the funding and know-how to participate in on-campus activities and students are unaware of opportunities in the public sector.

Things are changing.

Weskus Distrik’s Alwyn van Niekerk says that although the functions of municipalities and the services they provide have largely remained the same for the past 30 years, the management and operation of municipalities is evolving. Some municipalities struggle with this, while others embrace the inevitable change, creating massive opportunities for young professionals, and for committed officials to grow.

Same destination, different models.

The destination- namely a good standard of service delivery in terms of transport, water and electricity infrastructure, healthcare and emergency medical services, housing services, fire departments, refuse removal, and parks and recreational services- is locked in. The method of delivery – the funding and business models required to perform these functions- is however changing.

Municipalities can no longer afford to ‘do things like they’ve done before’.

Young minds and seasoned heads.

“MM’s (Municipal Managers), CFO’s (Chief Financial Officers) and Technical Directors form the EXCO of municipalities and have roles which are much like their counterparts in the private sector. These key officials have the responsibility to design the “new way of doing things”. Where this responsibility to evolve is accepted, municipalities will need to embrace a culture that promotes the collaboration of young, inspired minds and seasoned, knowledgeable heads, creating an invaluable environment for innovation and growth.

Opportunity beckons.

Herein lies an opportunity for graduates to develop a career, refining skills like those that one would acquire in the private sector whilst simultaneously contributing to the straightening and strengthening of the backbone of South Afrika. A bright young mind can aspire to these positions of leadership.

Starting out your career working at a top-rated municipality, being mentored by some of South Africa’s best – many with doctorate degrees – and gaining exposure to dynamic and contemporary initiatives such as smart city development goes a long way in shaping one’s professional future.

Alwyn van Niekerk
Weskus Distrik Municipality


West Coast District Municipality

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