The preliminary Learning in Local Government program inventory prepared by ACELG in 2010 included a profile of existing vocational and higher education courses relevant to some of the key skills shortage areas in local government. The identified skills shortage areas were civil engineering, urban planning, building surveying and environmental health. Post-graduate university courses that contained a specific focus and tailored content for local government were also identified and profiled, both within Australia and also internationally. In addition, the inventory included a sample of innovative professional development initiatives that utilise content and modes of delivery tailored to the needs of local government more generally.
A practitioner survey was then undertaken in 2010 to explore experiences with education and professional development, as well as practitioner perspectives on their own and the sector’s future needs and opportunities.
This report builds on these two bodies of work to explore opportunities and gaps in education and training in the same four areas of skills shortage, while also drawing some broader lessons.
Clearly, the four identified areas do not cover all those sectors of the local government workforce where skills shortages are being experienced. It is well known, for example, that many councils are having difficulty recruiting and retaining semi-skilled staff such as plant operators, especially where they are competing in the same market as the mining industry. However, a more comprehensive investigation was beyond the scope of the project at this stage.
In examining further the education and training needs involved in addressing skills shortages in local government, the following questions focused the research:
• What kind of education and training is available for the identified local government skill shortage areas?
• What are the gaps in training?
• Is the currently available training sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of the local government
• Who is best placed to deliver each of the components? Universities or Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers?
• How well are these components connecting to deliver pathways for individuals?
Prepared by Geraldine O’Connor and Sarah Artist, UTS: Centre for Local Government