Workforce survey reinforces major jobs and skills challenge

Australia’s 537 councils are looking to work with the Commonwealth Government to deliver Australia more engineers, town planners, building surveyors, environmental health officers, accountants and HR professionals, according to a new snapshot of the nation’s local government workforce released today. 


ALGA President Cr Linda Scott said the 2022 Local Government Workforce Skills and Capability Survey highlighted the magnitude of the current jobs and skills crisis.  


“More than nine out of every 10 councils are currently facing jobs and skills shortages which are acting as a handbrake on local productivity,” said Cr Scott. 


“When councils can’t get the staff we need to build much-needed libraries and pools, or maintain our roads, footpaths and cycleways, the impacts are felt right across our nation.” 


The 2022 Local Government Workforce Skills and Capability Survey was funded by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts, and updates a previous survey in 2018. 


Cr Scott said the 2022 survey results showed the jobs and skills crisis in local government is deepening. 


“In just four years, we’ve seen the number of councils experiencing jobs and skills shortages increase by around 30 percent,” Cr Scott said. 


“The main issues councils are experiencing are a shortage of skilled candidates, and often an inability to compete with the private sector and other levels of government on remuneration.” 


Cr Scott said local governments could play a bigger role addressing Australia’s broader jobs and skills crisis, including through giving young people a start through traineeships and apprenticeships. 


“It was fantastic to see the announcement of an extra $1 billion for fee-free TAFE places at the recent Jobs and Skills Summit but we’re seeking funding that will support councils to employ more apprentices and create jobs and new career pathways right across our nation,” Cr Scott said.


“As the level of government closest to its community, local governments are ideally placed to be an anchor organisation in the community, supporting economic development and local employment.


“But for councils to play a bigger role in addressing the shortages, we need more funding and support from all levels of government. 


“Federal Financial Assistance Grants to councils have slipped from one percent of Commonwealth taxation revenue in 1996 to just 0.52 percent today, and this is making it harder for councils to attract and retain the staff they need. 


“With a full picture of the jobs and skills gaps across our sector, we look forward to working with all levels of government towards practical solutions.” 


The full report is available here.