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Local government workforce and future skills report New South Wales

The world of work in the next two decades will be shaped by technological advances, digital connectivity, globalisation, the ageing population and emerging economic structures. These five mega trends are driving the speed of change and are expected to lead to the restructuring of labour markets throughout Australia, including local government. Local government is already feeling the impact of these trends, yet the majority of councils in New South Wales (NSW) have done no analysis or forecasting to determine the changing future roles or skills required. This report provides a snapshot of the profile of the local government workforce and the key issues in relation to current and emerging skills shortages and skills gaps, and access to and uptake of training in NSW., The report is underpinned by data from the national Local Government Skills Shortage Survey 2017 (the Survey) to which 43 per cent of New South Wales councils responded. Findings from the Survey reveal: 86 per cent of councils in NSW were experiencing a skill shortage and 69 per cent were experiencing skills gaps; Engineers, Urban and Town Planners, Building Surveyors, Project Managers and Environmental Health Officers were the top five areas of skills shortage; The key reasons for skills shortages are: the inability to compete with the private sector on remuneration, lack of suitably qualified/experienced candidates, regional/remote location, high demand across the labour market, and pressure from key major external projects/developments; Shortages in technical and trade occupations represent a critical issue for the future for 10-20 per cent of councils; Whilst 56 per cent of surveyed councils employed cadets and 73 per cent employed apprentices or trainees, more can be done by councils to share resources and ‘grow their own’ with 55 per cent reporting they do not have enough trainees/apprentices to meet their future skill needs; 36 per cent of surveyed councils reported unmet training needs. These included leadership and management training, project management, change management, contract management, regulatory services, mental health resilience, property professional training, water/waste water treatment, business process improvement and software training; and The greatest challenges in addressing unmet training needs relate to access to training providers locally, difficulty releasing staff, cost and lack of customised training., Emerging issues identified include: 55 per cent of councils have done no analysis or forecasting of changing roles or skills requirements arising from digital disruption and technology changes; Factors impacting on future skilling needs of councils are: major infrastructure projects, technological change and digitisation, growth within the local government area, attraction and retention of staff, and the ageing workforce; The new skills emerging over the next three years are primarily related to the introduction of new technology such as new software systems, CRM systems, GPS tracking, drone technology and online service provision; and In the future, councils are predicting a significant increase in the use of part-time employees and volunteers, a moderate increase in full-time employees and casuals, and a decrease in the use of labour hire arrangements.