Local government workforce and future skills report Northern Territory
The way we do business, connect, socialise, travel, and live is changing. The world of work in the next two decades will be shaped by technological advances, digital connectivity, globalisation, an ageing population and changing 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 have not done any form of analysis or forecasting to determine the changing future roles/skills required. This report provides a snapshot about key issues facing local government in the Northern Territory. It illustrates that local government has a workforce that: Is older than the Northern Territory all industry workforce; Has a declining participation level of workers under 30 years of age; Does not have enough apprentices to meet future needs; Is facing skills shortages in key professional and technical occupations; and Is not well positioned in regard to new and emerging soft skills. In order to address skill shortages, the preferred option of councils is to upskill existing staff – but there are challenges, given the inability to source trainers locally and the cost of sending staff to training (travel costs)., The report is underpinned by data from the National Local Government Skills Shortage Survey 2017 (the Survey) to which 41 per cent of Northern Territory councils responded. Findings from the Survey reveal: 83 per cent of councils were experiencing a skill shortage and 67 per cent were experiencing skills gaps; Community Development and Engagement Officers, Allied Health Professionals, Human Resource Professionals, Care Persons, Supervisors/Team Leaders were the top five areas of skills shortage; The key reasons for skills shortages are remoteness/location of the council, inability to compete with private sector on remuneration, lack of suitably qualified/experienced candidates, high turnover levels, shortage of accommodation, and poaching by the private and government agencies; 50 per cent of councils reported unmet training needs because courses are not offered locally, cost of sending staff away to training is prohibitive, and low literacy and numeracy levels of staff; The need for skilled staff with ‘experience in working and living in remote indigenous communities’; 83 per cent of councils have done no analysis or forecasting of changing roles/skills requirements arising from digital disruption and technology changes; All councils responding to the Survey indicated they needed to improve their position in relation to soft skills, particularly the ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team, creativity and entrepreneurial skills, and digital skills; Training availability and remoteness of councils were the most commonly cited factors hindering staff gaining soft skills; and In the future, councils are predicting a small increase in the use of full-time and part-time employees, a small decrease in casual employees and volunteers and no change to labour hire arrangements., Within this context the report seeks to highlight the current and future skill needs of the local government sector within the Northern Territory and suggests strategies for improving future workforce capacity and capability.