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Local Government

Overview

This page provides information and data on the Local Government sector, which is one component of the Government industry, and covers the operation and service provision of local governing entities in Australia.

Local Government nationally employs over 187,500 people. As an employer, Local Government requires a diverse workforce that encompasses a wide range of occupations, requiring a very broad range of skills amongst its personnel. The Local Government sector is a service provider with some sections operating along commercial business lines. Local Government organisation structures vary, however, all consist of elected representatives and council staff.

Currently, the sector is comprised of 537 local governments across Australia, which vary in geographic area, population and demographic base. All have an important role in providing leadership in community, economic and infrastructure development and a range of services and social functions. Common general functions include:

  • Infrastructure and property services, including local roads, bridges, footpaths, drainage, waste collection and management
  • Provision of recreation facilities, such as parks, sports fields and stadiums, golf courses, swimming pools, sports centres, halls, camping grounds and caravan parks
  • Health services, such as water and food inspection, immunisation services, toilet facilities, noise control and animal control
  • Community services, such as child care, aged care and accommodation, community care and welfare services
  • Building services, including inspections, licensing, certification and enforcement
  • Planning and development approval
  • Administration of facilities such as cemeteries, parking facilities and street parking
  • Cultural facilities and services, such as libraries, art galleries and museums.

Nationally recognised training for the Local Government sector is delivered under the LGA – Local Government Training Package.

Information sourced from the Local Government IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Employment levels in the Local Government Administration industry, a good indicator of the employment in the Local Government sector as a whole, increased between 2000 and 2018. This increase was steeper between 2000 and 2007 (including a particularly large rise between 2006 and 2007), with a more modest increase between 2010 and 2018. Employment is predicted to continue to increase between 2018 and 2023 and reach approximately 140,200 by 2023.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments in Local Government-related qualifications rose between 2015 and 2016, fell in 2017 and rose again in 2018 to almost match the 2016 high of 1,050 enrolments. Program completions declined each year between 2015 and 2018. Subject only enrolments were relatively stable between 2015 and 2018, except for in 2017 when there was a spike of 240 subject only enrolments.

Program enrolments were most common at the certificate IV and diploma or higher levels in 2018, while few enrolments were seen at the certificate I or II levels. A large number of enrolments in Local Government-related qualifications were in the area of regulatory services, with qualifications in the operational works area the second most common. The most common intended occupations for Local Government-related qualifications were Inspectors and Regulatory Officers and Program or Project Administrator.

In 2018, 61% of Local Government-related qualifications were delivered by private training providers. This trend was strongly the case for all qualifications other than those in the area of regulatory services, where TAFE institutions formed the majority of providers (83%). Just under half (46%) of the subjects for Local Government-related qualifications were delivered through domestic fee for service arrangements, which were mainly those delivered through private training providers. The vast majority (91%) of subjects delivered at TAFE institutions were Commonwealth and state funded.

Western Australia had the single highest proportion of students enrolled in Local Government-related qualifications in 2018, with 28%, followed by New South Wales with 26% and Queensland with 17%. Differences in enrolments by state may be in part due to the different size and roles of Local Government in different areas.

Apprentice and trainee commencements fell overall between 2010 and 2018. There was a rise in commencements in 2018 compared with 2017. Apprentice and trainee completions fell overall between 2010 and 2016. Completions rose between 2016 and 2018. In 2012, there was a high in commencements for the 2010 to 2018 period with 253 commencements. Completions rose substantially in 2014 but fell away after that. In 2018, the most common intended occupation for apprentices and trainees in this sector was Earthmoving Plant Operators. The Northern Territory reported the largest proportion of apprentices and trainees, with 43%, followed by New South Wales with 41%.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, visit NCVER’s VET Students by Industry. If you are prompted to log in, select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The Local Government IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast suggests the top priority skills for the Local Government sector are all soft skills, ranging from teamwork and communication through to flexibility and emotional intelligence. The top four generic skills also focus on soft skills. Technology is rated as the fifth most important generic skill for the sector.

According to the above Skills Forecast, over half of the Local Government sector workforce was aged over 45 in 2016. There are a number of implications of an ageing workforce that Local Government will need to consider, including:

  • Need for career transition and succession planning management
  • Alter methods to source/attract new staff from further afield
  • People staying in positions longer – no capacity to bring on young trainees
  • Key employees retiring without employees trained to backfill
  • Loss of key corporate knowledge/no knowledge exchange
  • High turnover and loss of skill/skill gap and shortages.

Efforts to retain the ageing workforce will be important to balance the lack of new entrants to the sector and establish valuable mentoring and training opportunities for new graduates from older and experienced workers.

The Local Government IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast also reveals that similar to other sectors, Local Government is experiencing significant skills shortages. Some reasons for the current skill shortages include:

  • Inability to compete with the private sector on remuneration
  • Lack of suitably qualified and experienced applicants
  • High demand across the labour market for specific occupations
  • Shortage of skilled locals – limited talent pool
  • Remoteness – hard to recruit skilled and experienced staff
  • Lack of opportunity for career progression, particularly in small councils
  • Regional/remote location – lack of facilities/housing.

Local government services are often subject to regulatory and compliance frameworks specific to an area of service (e.g. rates, urban planning, land management, governance, procurement etc.) and knowledge and skills specific to these framework functions are often missing from technical qualifications.

Lack of access to suitable training and development programs is a key driver behind the skills shortages and gaps reported across the sector. Key concerns regarding training offers include:

  • Training is not offered locally, and often, not offered in the specific state or territory
  • Training is not flexible and not offered in multi-modal channels, including online or with remote access
  • Training is not specific to local government needs.

The Local Government IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast states that the Local Government IRC has responsibility for 18 qualifications, packaged in the LGA04 Local Government Training Package. The Training Package Products are currently the subject of a major update to strengthen their alignment to industry expectations in relation to the skills required for job roles now and in the future. Significant changes in job roles related to health and environment, waste management, water management, procurement, and commissioning and controlling assets have been identified within a framework of governance and regulatory parameters. These contribute to some of the unique features of the skills and knowledge requirements within the Local Government sector.

In the 2018 report by the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), Local Government Workforce and Future Skills Report Australia, a significant proportion of surveyed local governments identified the need to improve their workforce in all 10 of the soft skills listed below:

  • Creativity and entrepreneurial skills
  • Cross cultural awareness
  • Social intelligence
  • Novel and adaptive thinking
  • New media literacy (e.g. social networking)
  • Ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  • Critical thinking, analysis, and problem solving
  • Design mind-set
  • Ability to discriminate and filter information for importance
  • Ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.

In order to address these emerging skills gaps, local governments will be mainly looking to upskill existing staff. To a lesser extent they will look to use shared service arrangements to address these gaps, particularly in the digital skills area.

The Australian Local Government Association also produced a detailed ‘Local government workforce and future skills report’ for New South Wales, Northern Territory, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia.

For further analysis of skills needs and workforce demand see the Government cluster page.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

 

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australian Local Government Association (ALGA)

Australian Public Service Commission (APSC)

Environmental Health Australia (EHA)

Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA)

Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ)

Local Government Association of South Australia

Local Government Association of the Northern Territory (LGANT)

Local Government Association Tasmania (LGAT)

Local Government New South Wales (LGNSW)

Local Government Professionals Australia

Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV)

Planning Institute of Australia (PIA)

Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA)

Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA)

 

Government bodies

ACT Government

Department of Communities (WA)

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development (Commonwealth)

Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development (NT)

Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs (Queensland)

Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (WA)

Local Government Victoria

Office of Local Government (NSW)

Office of Local Government (SA)

 

Employee associations

Australian Services Union (ASU)

Australian Workers’ Union (AWU)

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU)

Local Government Engineers’ Association (LGEA)

United Services Union (USU)

 

Relevant research

Local Government Workforce and Future Skills Report Australia – Australian Local Government Association (ALGA)

Local Government Workforce and Future Skills Report New South Wales – Australian Local Government Association (ALGA)

Local Government Workforce and Future Skills Report Northern Territory – Australian Local Government Association (ALGA)

Local Government Workforce and Future Skills Report Tasmania – Australian Local Government Association (ALGA)

Local Government Workforce and Future Skills Report Victoria – Australian Local Government Association (ALGA)

Local Government Workforce and Future Skills Report Western Australia – Australian Local Government Association (ALGA)

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit Local Government Administration Industry, employment projections to May 2023.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 November 2018 http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202018?OpenDocument

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit Local Government Administration Industry, 2000 to 2018, May Quarter.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 3 digit Local Government Administration Industry, and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET students and courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • LGA – Local Government Training Package
  • General Local Government and Administration
    • LGA20104 - Certificate II in Local Government
    • LGA30104 - Certificate III in Local Government
    • LGA40104 - Certificate IV in Local Government
    • LGA40204 - Certificate IV in Local Government Administration
    • LGA50104 - Diploma of Local Government Administration
    • LGA50712 - Diploma of Local Government
  • Health and Environment
    • LGA30208 - Certificate III in Local Government (Health and Environment)
    • LGA40308 - Certificate IV in Local Government (Health and Environment)
    • LGA50208 - Diploma of Local Government (Health and Environment)
  • Operational Works
    • LGA20204 - Certificate II in Local Government (Operational Works)
    • LGA30304 - Certificate III in Local Government (Operational Works)
    • LGA40404 - Certificate IV in Local Government (Operational Works)
    • LGA50404 - Diploma of Local Government (Operational Works)
    • LGA60104 - Advanced Diploma of Local Government (Operational Works)
  • Planning
    • LGA40708 - Certificate IV in Local Government (Planning)
    • LGA50508 - Diploma of Local Government (Planning)
  • Regulatory Services
    • LGA30404 - Certificate III in Local Government (Regulatory Services)
    • LGA40504 - Certificate IV in Local Government (Regulatory Services).

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 subject enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

LGA – Local Government Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2018 commencements
  • 2010 to 2018 completions
  • 2018 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2018 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Local Government IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 01 Nov 2019
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