President's Message



Phone: 02 9242 4000 
[email protected]

LGNSW President Darriea Turley AM.

31 January 2023

Skills and labour shortages hampering councils

It will come as no surprise to anyone working in local government that serious skills and labour shortages continue to hamper the productivity of our councils and economic recovery of local communities.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the current NSW Road Emergency, in which the shortage of road crews is delaying the immediate rollout of a $500 million funding package to undertake emergency road repairs in the wake of floods and torrential rain.

This is a microcosm of the workforce skills and challenges clearly set out in the latest Local Government Workforce Skills and Capability Survey NSW Report, which I am pleased to share with you.

This report confirms longstanding constraints, including skills shortages across a swathe of occupations, all exacerbated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impacts of climate change and the accelerated take-up of technology.

Employee attrition and an ageing workforce are ongoing and escalating difficulties, while limited access to training opportunities is particularly acute in our rural and regional communities.

With over 91% of respondent councils in NSW reporting skills shortages in 2021-22, the survey notes shortages of engineers, urban and town planners, building surveyors and project managers to be most common. Shortages of these occupations, along with water treatment operators, accountants, computing and ICT professionals and mechanical tradespersons are cited as being critical in the future.

Read more, including the five key asks we’ve taken to all parties and candidates to address skills and labour shortages, in this week’s election focus report.

Win – Increased wage subsidies for apprentices and trainees

We saw some good news on the skills front last week, with the Federal Government announcing an increase in the number of occupations on the Australian Apprenticeships Priority List for which it provides a wage subsidy to employers.

This is great news for councils employing youth workers, aged care, personal care and childcare workers, building inspectors, arborists, gardeners, swimming instructors, tour guides and apprentices undertaking plumbing, automotive electricians, carpentry, motor mechanics and electrical trades.

Further details in this ABC article.

Win – Environment priority commitments

The NSW Government and Opposition have also come to the table on our pre-election call for policies and programs to achieve the 2030 and 2050 emissions reduction targets.

The NSW Government recently releasing its Climate Change Policy and Action Plan 2023-26, a roadmap to address the causes and consequences of climate change and to work towards net zero emissions by 2050.

Meanwhile, the Opposition has acknowledged that the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme is not fit for purpose, with the announcement it will ensure the review of the Biodiversity Conservation Act strengthens environmental protections, stops runaway land clearing and fixes the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme.

Reminder: Local Government Pre-Election Advocacy Toolkit

With less than two months to go before the election, these are good commitments from both major parties, but much more is needed.

A reminder to all our members that LGNSW is encouraging councils to support our pre-election advocacy through representations to the local candidates in your state electorate(s).

To assist you , we’ve developed a Local Government Pre-Election Advocacy Toolkit containing a range of resources. Alternatively, email [email protected] for more information.