Future Directions - Professional development fostered at the LGA

Article image - Future Directions - Professional development fostered at the LGA Wendy Campana – CEO, Local Government Association of South Australia Local government provides a professional work environment, with a highly skilled workforce expected to rapidly adapt to changing community expectations and to requirements thrust upon us by other spheres of government.

The Local Government Association of SA places significant emphasis on education, training and professional development for the more than 10,000 South Australians who work in the local government sector, so they can meet these challenges confidently.

The public perception of ‘what is a council worker’ has changed markedly but there is still room for improvement, both within the sector and for the wider community. The LGASA’s Education and Training Unit runs a myriad of professional development and training courses each year designed to challenge and extend council staff members so they are better prepared to meet the demands of their positions and to look to career advancement.

In the period June 2012 – June 2013 the LGA held 134 individual courses for the sector covering issues from contract management and administration, working with young people and public spaces, whistleblower protection,  trees and the law, drugs and alcohol in the workplace, recognising bullying and discrimination, designing outdoor learning environments for young children and the Springboard women’s development program.

We also have a comprehensive program of courses designed to assist elected members undertake their roles and responsibilities. Most of our training is provided in-house with our excellent panel of presenters and we have developed a complementary range of online performance and development modules recognising that not all SA council staff and elected members can travel to the city for training because of work and time pressures. We also take out training courses to the regions and offer tailored training to suit individual council needs.

People attending courses are asked to provide feedback to enable us to keep courses relevant to participants. One of our recent Springboard training programs returned the response, “I attended the course at a crossroads in my personal and professional life. Attending the course has given me more confidence in myself and has helped me to make some tough decisions. It is amazing how many women struggle with day to day issues and think they are the only ones. I think the LGA should run a similar course for men.”

A recent participant in a Policy Writing – Getting Started wrote, “It’s not just about doing the job; it’s about understanding why you are doing the job the way you are and why it’s needed. The knowledge and skills that come with this training can be applied in many different ways which open further career and development opportunities.”

Comments from the Introduction to Local Government course elicited the following, “The course content answered many questions that I had not previously thought about and as a result of this information I will be able to accelerate my career in this exciting environment.”

In designing our training and professional development courses we regularly consult with councils and key local government stakeholders to meet the training needs of the sector. Our courses are designed to provide practical skills and knowledge in the workplace and to also provide an invaluable networking environment for colleagues from different councils.

The LGA is also undertaking an exciting Local Government Awareness Program, where real council staff, tell real stories in a YouTube format which is loaded to the LGA’s Careers webpage. This project has been a massive success in raising awareness of the 100-plus career paths available in local government and we look forward to providing our new recruits with the training, education and professional development needed to help them shine in their new work environments.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela.