Local government must change the way it operates to cope with myriad future challenges. Angela Dorizas reports.
Stable or lower government grants, increased service demands from an ageing population, infrastructure backlogs, the implementation of government climate change initiatives: these are just some of the future challenges councils can expect.
In his address to the recent Local Government Investment Conference, Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA) chief executive officer, John Ravlic, warned that coming years would be far from ‘business as usual’ as councils adjust their operations to cope.
At the same time, local government will be severely hit by a decline in the availability of skilled workers.
“The property and construction boom resulted in engineering, planning, building and health personnel leaving our sector in droves,” Ravlic said.
“This was followed by mining and minerals boom, which resulted in engineering, trades and other skilled [employees] leaving our sector, particularly in regional Australia.”
He said local government did not have the means to compete with the mining and construction sectors on salary and conditions.
“Local government is at the bottom of the food chain in terms of salary and conditions offered in a rampant economy that is driving demand for skills.”
In 2011, the number of employees exiting the workforce would exceed the number entering the workforce, he said.
“So what we are actually calling a ‘skills shortage’ is probably better known as a ‘people shortage’.”
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