Jobs and skills crisis in local government

Around nine in ten Australian councils are now experiencing skill 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.

ALGA President Linda Scott said there are a range of factors that are making it increasingly harder for councils to recruit, train and retain suitably skilled workers.

“Housing affordability and availability is an ongoing issue, particularly for regional and rural councils looking to attract specialist staff from outside their local community,” Cr Scott said.

“Retaining the staff they already have is also a big challenge for many councils, given the current competition for skills within the private sector and also other levels of government.”

“Nationally the turnover rate in local government is about 15 percent, and it’s closer to 20 percent in rural areas.”

“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.”

“Investing in local government jobs makes sense, and will help expand employment opportunities for all Australians, including the most disadvantaged.”