Council programs foster workforce transition

Recruiting for local government jobs in regional areas has its challenges, but three central Queensland councils are launching a program designed to attract civil engineers and upskill local talent.

The Regional Skills Development Program is a vacation work program developed by committee members of the Bowen Basin Regional Roads and Transport Group (BBRTG) with Isaac Regional Council, Central Highlands Regional Council and Banana Shire Council as participating councils.

The program will see three civil engineering students rotated across the three councils over three years, beginning from their second year of study.

Mayor Anne Baker

Along with on-the-job work experience, students will also be provided with accommodation and support throughout the program.

Recruitment for the program will begin in September, with the program to start in November. The students will work during their summer holidays and be paid as casual employees under the state’s Local Government Industry Award.

“(It’s) offering an opportunity for civil engineering students, and providing the opportunity for them to get work experience, while at the same time doing their degree,” Isaac Regional Council Mayor Anne Baker told Government News.

“I’m very happy and feel very proud to be able to empower these current civil engineering students to be part of this program.”

Challenges of recruiting 

Recruiting for all levels of government in regional Queensland has always been a challenge, Cr Baker says, and she hopes the program will stem a drain of talent away from the region as well as building a base for future employment.

While students aren’t guaranteed a job with council after their placement, Cr Baker says the councils are proud to be contributing to a transition into the workforce for young talent.

“It’s really about working towards preventing the drain of regional Queensland away from the region,” Cr Baker said. “We’re enabling a transition for retaining the future workforce. It is something that we’re very proud of.”

“The genuine intent of a program like this is to provide the opportunity for the skills to be developed and the opportunity to work in the region,” says.

A local undergraduate engineer from Moranbah, a small coal mining town in the Isaac Region, participated in a recent trial of the program.

“It is actually trying to nurture skills and develop people (from) the region,” she said. “But at the same time, I would like to offer the opportunity for everybody to come in and work, live and play in the region because it’s a great place to be.”

Central Coast 

Meanwhile, Central Coast Council in NSW has welcomed 28 young people to its staff last week as part of its Early Career Pathways Program.

The 12-months program provides university students with an undergraduate program in areas such as engineering, social science and environmental sustainability. It will begin again in early February.

“Our Early Career Pathways Program provides young people with hands-on experience at a variety of levels, while being able to live and work locally,” Mayor Lisa Matthews said.

The council has also accepted 13 young people into its Apprentice and Trainee Program.

The program provides students with employment and study in fields such as construction, water treatment and business administration.

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