MAV investigates workforce planning

A recent research project by the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and the Department for Victorian Communities, Local Government Victoria Division (LGV), has identified significant workforce issues facing Councils that must be addressed to avert future service shortages. As the delivery of services, expectations and demographics of communities change, Local Government must have a capable workforce with the right skills, in the right quantity, who are deployed in the most effective way.

Changing demographics and economic factors present two central challenges for the sector in effectively responding to community needs. Firstly, the ageing population will significantly alter the demand for services. Health and aged care is expected to continue to increase and demand for education and childcare services as a proportion of total expenditure, will theoretically decrease.

Personnel shortages resulting from population ageing are already being experienced by Victorian Councils in areas such as engineering, town planning, maternal and child health nursing, environmental health and childcare.

Demographic change is also expected to influence volunteer supply, which Local Government relies on to provide direct services to the community.

Victorian Grants Commission data shows small rural Councils rely the heaviest on volunteers (20.6 volunteers per 1,000 population), followed by regional Cities (8.8 volunteers per 1,000 population), large rural (8.6 volunteers per 1,000 population), inner metropolitan (2.8 volunteers per 1,000 population) and outer metropolitan (1.0 volunteers per 1,000 population).

Secondly, governments will face greater competition from other sectors in a shrinking labour market as the older population withdraws from the labour force. Labour force characteristics will result in changing expectations of jobs, careers and employers.

As a result of the analysis undertaken by the MAV and LGV, a strategy to develop sector wide solutions has commenced. Local and State Government representatives and the private sector will attend a MAV forum in February. It will focus on developing practical recommendations for incorporating workforce planning into Councilsí strategic planning processes, selling Local Government as an employer of choice, measuring service and labour demand and supply requirements, and exploring new approaches to service delivery.

The MAV has also convened a working party comprising all State and Territory Local Government Associations to address sector wide skills shortages in response to an ALGA resolution identifying this as a priority issue.

The working group will identify effective strategies and issues for resolution with other levels of government and the private sector to overcome existing skills shortages in Australian Local Government.