Administrative Assistant

Administrative assistants employed by local councils provide clerical support for senior staff and managers.  Many council departments are open to the public and receive lots of enquiries, so the job can involve a lot of contact with a range of people.  Many senior staff spend quite a bit of time out of the office, visiting clients or making site visits, so administrative assistants are expected to work on their own initiative for large parts of the day and deal with enquiries in managers' absence.  Administrative assistants work for all types of councils and across a variety of departments.

Work Environment
Administrative assistants usually work in council offices.  Hours of work are normally 37 per week, sometimes with opportunities for paid overtime.  Opportunities to work on a part-time or job share basis are very common.

Daily Activities
Local government administrative assistants' roles vary depending on the departments, in which they work.  They might provide clerical support for a particular department, for example, adult and children's services, planning, housing, finance, HR and so on.  Alternatively, they might be employed in a central business support unit carrying out administrative duties fora range of council departments. Administrative Assistants undertake general administrative clerical support duties as appropriate which includes providing clerical work forthe department.

There is a variety of administrative tasks that might form part of an administrative assistant's job:

  • opening, sorting and distributing post;
  • checking and responding to emails and telephone messages;
  • answering the telephone and redirecting calls to the appropriate people;
  • filing and photocopying;
  • entering information into computer systems;
  • typing and sending out routine letters;
  • dealing with petty cash;
  • ordering office supplies;
  • producing statistics;
  • arranging meetings and taking minutes;
  • organising conferences;
  • keeping track of managers' diaries and putting in appointments.

Skills & Interests
Local government administrative assistants need:

  • a good telephone manner and ability to communicate well with different people;
  • to be methodical and wellorganised;
  • good attention to detail;
  • to have good ICT skills;
  • to be good team workers;
  • to be able to prioritise work and meet deadlines.

Entry Requirements
These vary according to the job.  Local councils often ask for a minimum of three GCSEs/S grades at C or above, including English and maths.  Equivalent qualifications such as S/NVQs or Intermediate GNVQ/GSVQ Level ll in Business, or relevant experience, are usually acceptable alternatives.  Keyboard skills plus OCR (RSA) or similar qualifications in word processing may also be required.

A BTEC/SQA national certificate or diploma in business and finance or in public administration may be an advantage when applying for some posts.  Support to complete an Apprenticeship in Business Administration might be available once working for the council.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
All councils employ administrative assistants. There are prospects of promotion to jobs such as administration or business manager and opportunities to transfer to work in other departments.

Further Information & Services
Association of Secretaries 
Council for Administration 
European Computer Driving Licence 
Instituteof Administrative Management 
PA Assist

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales ( in your local library, careers officeor school careers library.

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