New toolkit helping local SA councils attract and retain talent

Torrens University Australia

As industries, including local councils across Australia struggle to attract and retain talent, Torrens University Australia has partnered with the Central Local Government Region of SA (Legatus Group) and collaborated with several Regional Local and Government Associations in South Australia to develop a Career Pathways and Workforce Toolkit, tailored to regional South Australian communities. 

Research Report:  Local Government Career Pathways & Workforce Toolkit for Regional SA is the result of 18 months of research by Torrens University’s Centre for Organisational Change & Agility (COCA). It is funded through the Local Government Association Research and Development Program Scheme, which is administered by the Local Government Association of South Australia.

It builds on a previous research project by Torrens University and the Legatus Group and its subsequent Attracting, Developing and Retaining Regional Local Government Workforces 2022 report. The project found that 69% of local governments nationally reported a skills shortage & skills gap, while 60% reported unmet training needs, with availability, cost, and time constraints being identified their biggest barriers to staff gaining soft skills – statistics that are playing out in rural and regional South Australia. 

“Meeting the current and future skill needs will be an ongoing challenge for the local government sector and more significantly regional councils,” said Professor Roslyn Cameron, Director of the Centre for Organisational Change and Agility at Torrens University. 

“Our research shows that regional councils face several challenges. Many are the result of competing with Metro councils for talent. The challenges include matching salaries and amenities that are competitive, offering career paths, partnering with education and training providers to develop career and skill development programs, and providing flexible employment options for all including those with family responsibilities or for older workers.” 

“There’s also great potential to tap into regional secondary school leaver cohorts early to promote career and employment pathways across a wide range of job families and job roles.”

The toolkit includes practical advice and strategies on workforce attraction and retention, exploring options for shared services in terms of recruitment and professional services, mapping and actively promoting career pathways both into and within the regional local government sector. 

Wakefield Regional Council’s Mayor Rodney Reid, who is also Chairman of the Legatus Group said at the launch on 8 February 2023 “Local government was one of the most important employers in remote and regional Australia.  

Rural and regional local councils provide people in those communities with the opportunity to engage in skilled service employment, yet the challenges of attracting, developing and retaining a skilled workforce are greater in regional and isolated rural areas.” 

Simon Millcock, CEO of the Legatus Group said “The toolkit would be a valuable resource for regional SA councils in developing strong and sustainable workforces which ultimately supports the state’s economy. 

Regional South Australia as a whole contributes around $25.9 billion to the state’s economy with just under 30% of the state’s population. The resilience of rural and regional communities depends heavily on the strength of their local council.”

“Our aim with this toolkit is to help local councils in regional areas with a roadmap to drive workforce attraction and retention and promote and create career pathways for their staff within the local government sector more broadly and work towards regional local government as a regional employer of choice.” 

Both reports are available online. 

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Torrens University Australia

As one of Australia’s fastest-growing universities, Torrens University Australia with 19,000+ students from 124+ countries, Torrens University boasts a credible industry-immersive difference for its students and strong research output. Offering high-quality, undergraduate, graduate, and specialised degree programs in a wide range of academic disciplines, Torrens University proudly delivers a wide-range of high-quality, undergraduate, graduate and specialised degree programs in a wide range of academic disciplines at campuses in Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Auckland, China and online. As a private higher education provider, Torrens University Australia is the only university in Australia and New Zealand, and one of four globally, to be a Certified B Corporation, meaning we are committed to the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

/Public Release.