Weekly Speak CEO Column
Council jobs: let the hard work begin
The scourge of natural disaster has come early in the disaster season in the form of ferocious fires whipped up by an unprecedented heatwave. Our hearts go out to those Queenslanders who have lost homes and property.
A big well done to those affected councils and their local SES and QFRS units for their tremendous efforts to date. It was also heartening to see Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk go out of her way to praise the leadership of mayors in confronting the disaster. The LGAQ stands ready to support any council in need.
Beyond participating in Queensland Disaster Management Committee meetings my focus this week has been on the future of work in Queensland, particularly in relation to local government. On Wednesday I took part in the Premier’s Future of Work - Skills and Industry Summit as part of a panel with Leanne Kemp, Queensland Chief Entrepreneur (and blockchain developer for the LGAQ), Professor Peter Hoj, vice-chancellor University of Queensland, Jane Hunter, chief operating officer of Boeing Phantom Works and Ros McLennan, general secretary of the Queensland Council of Unions.
I had the benefit of the findings of LGAQ’s recently completed Workforce and Future Skills report to add to the distribution and was able to make the following observations.
The Queensland local government workforce:
- Is considerably older than the Queensland 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 major 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 like:
- The inability to source trainers locally;
- The cost of sending staff to training (travel costs);
- The high cost of training and tight fiscal environment; and
- The reported reluctance of councils to release staff to training given current workloads.
So, folks, we have a big challenge ahead of us all. There is no doubt we must get smarter and reinvent the nature of a lot of the work we do and the delivery of training for that matter. The LGAQ has accepted and is up to the challenge and I know councils are, too. Let the hard work begin.
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006
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