Develop skills that are in demand
We not only offer breadth of experience, but we also offer depth of training – all you need to get your future off to the best start. You will be encouraged and supported at every step, whether it’s working alongside our most experienced people, or studying for nationally recognised professional qualifications. With us you’ll learn about best practice in the public sector, as well as honing your commercial knowledge. Finance and procurement are core business disciplines so your skills and expertise will always be in demand.
Making Essex better, safer, and fairer for its 1.4 million residents and their communities takes innovation, adaptability, and collaboration. That’s why we welcome the fresh ideas that graduate trainees have to offer and see you as a key member of our team – from day one.
Finance and Procurement training is delivered on two separate schemes – you may apply for one or both. We’re happy to consider graduates from all degree disciplines but you will need a 2:1 minimum, the ability to work with financial information, proficiency in Microsoft Office and strong communication skills.
Find out more:
Further details about the structure of our two graduate schemes can be found in our brochure, which also features staff perspectives on working for Essex County Council and insights into the day-to-day working lives of recent graduates.
Read our Graduate Brochure here.
Our structured graduate programme combines hands-on involvement in day-to-day work with support for gaining professional qualifications. Through a series of six-month – 1-year placements, you’ll gain broad experience across our diverse financial functions. These could include Management Accounting, Financial Accounting, Strategic Finance and Insights, Business Partnering, and Internal Audit.
At the same time, we’ll support you in studying for the CIPFA Level 7 qualification. You can choose between in-person or online classes, which usually means one to two days per week during term-time, with workloads adjusted accordingly.
This is an intense period of work and study that builds strong foundations for your future success. You can expect to sit four exams per year: two in December and two in June, with classes for those modules usually running from September to November and March to May respectively. In addition, you’ll be granted 2.5 days of study leave for each exam you sit.
Find out more about Corporate Services.
Through a mixture of practical experience and intensive learning and development, you’ll become a fully rounded procurement professional. A series of rotations over three years will help you develop broad experience and understanding of issues such as tendering and contract management within local authorities. These might include working with Corporate; Economy and Investment; Climate, Environment and Customer Services; Strategy and Assurance; People and Older People.
At the same time, we’ll support you to become a fully qualified member of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS). Courses will be delivered through a mix of in-person and online classes, as well as self-study. While you’re on the scheme, you’re entitled to seven hours per week paid ‘off the job’ training time. You will also be offered up to 2.5 days of study leave for each exam you take.
You will complete the Level 4 Diploma and Level 5 Advanced Diploma while on the graduate scheme. You’ll also have the opportunity to begin study for the Level 6 professional diploma, to complete once you have secured a permanent manager role. We want you to succeed as a trainee and to go on developing as you career progresses.
Find out more about Corporate Services.
Hear from some of our colleagues below on their experience of working for Essex County Council:
Kathryn Long, Commercial Finance Business Partner
Tell us about you, your role, and your journey at ECC.
I completed my CIPFA studies at the City of London Corporation before joining Essex County Council as a Management Accountant in June 2016, leading a team that delivers financial advice and analysis to the Children & Families service. I was promoted to Commercial Finance Business Partner in April 2018, which was an exciting opportunity to be involved in ECC’s commercial agenda and work on a wide range of projects. As part of my current role, I oversee the Finance Professional Training Scheme, including the Graduate Programme.
What made you join ECC?
I attended a recruitment day and was very impressed by the organisation and the Finance team (the Finance Director in particular) and felt I would be given opportunities to progress my career, which proved correct when I was promoted within two years of joining.
What makes you stay at ECC?
ECC is a very forward-thinking organisation, not only in terms of the projects we work on within Finance, but also the flexible working offered to staff. This was particularly important during lockdown whilst trying to juggle work with childcare; I received a great deal of support from my team. Everyone is expected to work to a high standard but is given trust in return. There is a strong emphasis on training/CPD/networking and developing staff. This support is incredibly important to me as I have spent many years participating in CIPFA networks at a regional and national level; I am currently Regional President for CIPFA South East.
Laura Lee – Head of Procurement – Place and Corporate
What is your role at ECC?
I am Head of Procurement – Place and Corporate. This includes categories such as highways, technology, waste, construction, and consultancy.
What made you join ECC?
Throughout my career I have always been good at saving money – both through tenders and by managing contracts well but I reached a point where I took a step back and thought “I should be putting this skill to use for the greater good and not just for shareholders” so I decided to join the public sector and start working for the benefit of the community.
What has made you stay at ECC?
The people, the purpose, the progression, and the challenge. Every day is different, even when there are really challenging days, I get to work with a fantastic team that at the very heart wants to make a difference for residents
To help bring our roles to life, some of our 2021 graduates have detailed what a typical day or week at ECC looks like for them, take a look below to find out more:
A Week in the life of a Graduate – James Haughey (Finance)
I’ve been in the Graduate programme at ECC for 4 months now and before that I was studying Economics at the University of Aberdeen. I moved down to Chelmsford for the programme in August as the 11-hour commute didn’t sound particularly fun.
It is hard to summarise an average week in the Strategic Finance and Insight (SF&I) team as each week I have been getting more and more involved. The work that the team undertakes varies greatly but is often related to policy changes or requests from members within our cabinet. The flexible working programme at Essex gives the freedom to choose whether you attend an ECC office. SF&I usually go into the office as a team on a Wednesday, but it will be discussed at the Monday morning meeting.
Monday – We have a team meeting at 10am to look at the individual workloads and establish where capacity is in the team for any ad hoc requests that come in. This is the team’s usual Monday but for this term I had Financial Accounting classes, so I was in lectures all day for around 6 weeks.
Tuesday – I would start my work on the Delta return for the week. This is a monthly government return that looks at our spending changes in respect of Covid-19. For the return, I collect data from across the functions and collate that into the correct format. On Tuesday’s I will arrange meetings with colleagues to understand new pressures for this month and begin the consolidation process.
Wednesday – Since the office has been open this has been our team’s day in the office. For me, the office is a great environment. I’ve found that it can help facilitate learning especially when I can join in with discussions about colleagues’ pieces of work. It also helps to be sat next to my mentor where I can quickly check if they are free instead of setting up a time for a call.
Thursday – By this point in the week I will usually have finished my work on the Delta and will be looking at one of the ‘Insight’ tasks that my line manager has given me. These usually consist of researching a topic of interest. Then my aim is to write a report to inform him on a niche area of a decision or to quickly further his perspective on a current issue. I am often researching from a wide range of material ranging from other county council’s accounts to reading through articles to gain scope on an issue.
Friday – Close of the week for most of my time at ECC has been Management Accounting. FA and MA are the first 2 courses you’ll experience with CIPFA. The material is heavily linked between the courses and to the initial work you’ll be undertaking at ECC. Friday has become a usual trip to the pub as a few of us stay in and around Chelmsford. This is a good chance to use the first few minutes to catch up with people and learn about what they have been working on. We enjoy socialising and occasionally continue for a meal in Chelmsford and dare I say it potentially finishing the night in Popworld!
A day in the life of a Graduate – Daniel Rowe (Procurement)
I often start my day with a morning run before work. When I work from home, I have time in the morning to do this – it’s a great start to the day!
I normally log on about 8:30am and spend the first 30 minutes or so replying to emails and checking my to-do list to prioritise what work I need to do for the day.
I frequently have team meetings in the mornings. These are held virtually. Even though we mostly meet online I feel a part of the team very much. These meetings are a chance for a catch-up and to discuss on-going work. I am currently working on various projects alongside some members of the team.
I dedicate some time between meetings to do some focused work. Currently I am working on a large project to make the social care system ‘greener’. This requires communication with departments across the council and care providers. It is in the early stages of development but it’s great to be given the responsibility of an important project from the start, that I can carry throughout my placement.
At lunch I normally go for a walk. I enjoy the opportunity to stretch my legs as working at a desk doesn’t involve much movement!
In the afternoon I attend a meeting to discuss redesigning our ‘provider hub’ website. This is a place where care providers can go to find out important information and dates of events.
I often finish the day with some studying as I am working towards my level 4 diploma in Procurement and Supply. It is great to be given time during the working day to study towards the professional qualifications.
I tend to log off about 5pm. I like to make the most of my evenings and often go paddle boarding after work.