29 February 2024

Torrens University partners with Legatus to provide South Australia local government career pathway options

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Torrens University and Legatus representatives at the launch of the Research Report: Local Government Career Pathways & Workforce Toolkit for Regional SA. Photo: Torrens University.

Adelaide’s Torrens University has partnered with the Central Local Government Region of SA (Legatus) and Regional Local and Government Associations in South Australia to develop and launch a workforce toolkit tailored to regional South Australian communities.

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

The report builds on a previous research project by Torrens University and the Legatus Group and found that nearly 70 per cent of local governments nationally reported skills shortages and gaps, while 60 per cent could not fulfil their training needs. It says availability, cost and time constraints were identified as the biggest barriers to staff gaining soft skills.

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

“Our research shows that regional councils face several challenges,” Professor Cameron said.

“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,” she added.

The toolkit includes advice and strategies on attracting and retaining a workforce, exploring options for shared services such as recruitment and professional services, and mapping and promoting career pathways to and within the regional local government sector.

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South Australia’s Wakefield Regional Council Mayor Rodney Reid – also chairman of the Legatus Group – said 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,” he said.

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

“Regional South Australia as a whole contributes around $25.9 billion to the state’s economy. with just under 30 per cent of the state’s population,” he said.

“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.”

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