ALGA President Linda Scott will represent Australia’s 537 councils – and the 190,000 Australians they employ – at the Federal Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit at Parliament House this week.
Cr Scott said she would be advocating for more support to help councils address jobs and skills shortages across the country.
“Around nine in ten local governments are now experiencing skills shortages – an increase of 30% from just four years ago – and two thirds of councils have had local projects impacted or delayed as a result,” Cr Scott said.
“There are a range of factors that are making it increasingly harder for councils to recruit, train and retain suitably skilled workers, including a lack of available and affordable housing, and competition for skills with the private sector and other levels of government.”
“Some of the hardest jobs to fill right now include engineers, urban and town planners, building surveyors, environmental health inspectors, and HR professionals.”
“However, the biggest hurdle to attracting and retaining qualified staff is the lack and uncertainty of long-term funding to support workforce planning and development.”
“Councils collect less than four percent of national taxation and are heavily reliant on federal Financial Assistance Grants.”
“For many councils – predominantly outside of our major cities and towns – these grants make up more than 20 percent of their annual operating revenue.”
“Restoring Financial Assistance Grants to at least one percent of Commonwealth taxation revenue, where they were at thirty years ago, would support councils to undertake workforce planning and development strategies.”
Cr Scott said investing in local government jobs would help expand employment opportunities for all Australians, including the most disadvantaged.
“Councils employ more women than men, and more Indigenous Australians than the national average,” Cr Scott said.
“Contrary to popular belief, local government staff are younger on average when compared to the broader Australian workforce, and councils have the potential to take on more apprentices and give more young people their start.”
“Many councils are already investing in lowering emissions at a local level, and with support could be at the centre of Australia’s energy transition.”
“Sustainably resourced, councils also play an important role supporting employment and improving productivity in our communities by procuring local goods, running economic development programs, and providing the infrastructure and services that allow local businesses to thrive.”