Develop skills that are in demand
We not only offer breadth of experience, we 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
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 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.
Read Graduate Trainee Job Description for Finance
Through a mixture of practical experience and intensive learning and development, you’ll become a fully rounded procurement professional. A series of rotations over two 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 Health, Social Services and Social Care; Place (construction, PFI, waste, housing, highways); Corporate (technical services, coroners, libraries); and Strategy and Assurance (process implementation and delivery).
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.
Read Graduate Trainee Job Description for Procurement
Hear from some of our colleagues below on their experience of working for Essex County Council.
Peter Shakespear, Head of Finance
I joined Essex County Council just over 2 years ago. I joined as a Financial Controller overseeing the Management Accounting function within the Place and Public Health area. Since then I have been promoted to Head of Finance for Corporate and Strategic Partnerships.
What made you join ECC?
Essex is regarded as one of the leading local authorities in the Country, consistently rated in the Top 10 most productive councils by IMPOWER.
What makes you stay at ECC?
My personal experience of Essex has been an authority that is ambitious to be the best it can be; willing to learn from others, a passion for sharing good practice and an authority and workforce that delivers.
You will be encouraged and supported to become the best you can be. Encouraged to adopt best practice, take a commercial mindset to decision making and continually seek to ensure you achieve best value for the taxpayers of Essex.
Tony Clissold, Procurement Lead for People
What is your role at ECC?
I’m the Procurement Lead for People, which oversees the procurement life cycle for Family and Children, Education, Public Health, Mental Health and Adults with Physical and Sensory Impairments, Learning Disabilities and Autism categories of spend.
What made you join ECC?
After working within the private sector, within two blue chip companies across the retail and automotive sectors, I wanted to apply my learning and skills set into the public sector where your work ethos and achievements make a difference to the communities in which I lived. Working for ECC allows me to do that which makes it very rewarding personally.
What has made you stay at ECC?
The diversity of ECC with regards to its responsibilities (delivering infrastructure projects, Children and Adult social care, waste , education, libraries , public health etc) and the close working with other key anchor institutions (NHS , Police etc) makes working at ECC a very interesting place to work generating loads of different opportunities and experiences.
A Day in the Life of a Graduate – Rula – Procurement Scheme
Rula joined Essex County Council’s graduate scheme after completing a textiles and surface design degree at Buckinghamshire New University, before working in product development buying and design for six years. She is on her first rotation on the Adults with Disabilities team and currently working from home.
“I start my day at 8.30am logging into Teams and Outlook, answering any emails and queries, whilst reviewing my to-do list for the day. I’m hosting a provider engagement forum later this morning for the Meaningful Lives Matter (MLM) Programme and I double-check my presentation and agenda, and make sure everything is ready for the meeting.
The MLM Programme is a core pilot activity and market engagement strategy to create better and more meaningful lives for Adults with Disabilities and Autism. Essex County Council’s vision is that people should thrive in their community, have a place to call home and someone to love and be loved.
Within this project we have been exploring three care-provider markets and I am managing the Canvey Island demographic. During the forum we address the issues of Covid-19 and listen to the problems providers are facing during the pandemic as well as the adaptations they are making to create activities and look after the wellbeing of the Adults. We discuss group workshops and sharing community resources to help providers care in the best way possible under the circumstances. We also look at how Essex County Council can further support them. One provider is lacking in PPE so I ensure that they are sent this straight after the meeting.
After the meeting I grab a quick coffee and have a debrief with my team, outlining and confirming the actions agreed during the meeting and the next steps that need to be taken by us.
Later that morning I work on the Covid Infection Control Fund for providers and respond to messages and queries in the inbox. I have some calls to make to providers to chase them on returning their Infection Control Grant Agreements for them to receive their government grant. This grant has been issued for providers to purchase any products, PPE or put in place any safety measures for their staff and Adults that will help reduce the spread of infection.
At lunchtime I get some fresh air and take my dog for a walk, then turn to a project to create an online Social Value filing cabinet. This will contain useful information and opportunities for providers. I’m assisting on this project and being trained how to upload this information onto our website and Care Provider hub.
Later that afternoon, I have a group revision session for my first CIPS exam. On the graduate programme you are automatically enrolled onto the college course to obtain your CIPS diplomas. The work and study balance is 20% of your working week. Some weeks we have lectures and seminars, but this week is a short revision session with my peers.
After an hour’s study, I go back to the MLM programme, for which I am creating my first Category Plan. I have a meeting with the Residential Care Category and Contract Manager to discuss the outline and contents of the category plan. Following this meeting I work on the Category Plan until the end of the working day.
Although I miss the social interaction of being in the office, it is great to be able to finish work and already be home. So, I log off at 5pm to enjoy my evening.”
A Day in the Life of a Graduate – Katie – Finance Scheme
Katie joined Essex County Council’s graduate scheme after leaving Lancaster University with a degree in Politics and German and working for two years in a general admin role. She’s completed her first five CIPFA exams, with a further five to go.
She’s on her second rotation in the Internal Audit and Counter-Fraud Team and is currently working from home.
“Essex County Council doesn’t have set working times but I’m usually ready to start work by 9am. I start with a quick read through emails. I respond to anything urgent and make myself a to-do list for the day.
Today I’ve got a catch-up meeting with my line manager to discuss the current audit I’m working on, review where I’m at and discuss next steps. I have a couple of hours working on that before lunch. I try and make sure I get outside and get some fresh air every day, so go for a run or to the gym.
I’m usually back at my desk for around 2pm. After another hour’s work on my project, I have a call with one of my fellow graduates, Alice, to catch up. It’s a chance to discuss any work or study issues that have come up. Scheduling in calls like this has been a great way of making sure I’m still getting the support and social element of the graduate scheme (although it’s not quite the same as our old Friday lunchtime Nandos trips!).
Finally today we have a full-department meeting for Finance where we get a briefing on what’s going on at a higher level across the council and anything that might impact us as a department.”