Local Government Workforce Seminar
Local Government Workforce: the Trends and the Blips on the Radar
In 2011, councils were amongst the largest employers in about 10% of all Local Government Areas nationally. Local government was also the only level of government to have met the Council of Australian Governments’ public sector targets for Indigenous employment. And the sector was well placed to smash the glass ceiling that often prevents gender equity in senior ranks.
But how is the workforce shaping up five years on? Workforce data specialists from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Centre for Local Government and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) addressed this question in a recent seminar at UTS.
Lisa Conolly from ABS and Alex Lawrie from UTS drew on a unique set of ABS workforce data stretching across multiple Censuses to highlight trends shaping where local government is headed.
Some interesting findings from the Census data in relation to local government workforce include:
- In 2011 and 2016, local government was the only level of government to have met Council of Australian Government targets for Indigenous employment in the public sector.
- The 2011 Census data revealed a large group of highly educated women in lower and middle management. These workers have now started moving into senior management positions and there are almost 10% more female general managers in local government today than there were in 2011.
- There are over 420 local government areas where more than half the council workforce also lives local. This has great outcomes in terms of efficiency and quality of life as people can find jobs closer to where they live.
The seminar was highly topical in light of the Audit Office of New South Wales’ recent Performance Audit on Council Service Delivery Reporting. It provided tips and tricks on how ABS workforce data can help build a comparative picture of local government service delivery efficiency, which the Audit Office identified as an area for improvement.
Watch the seminar video
Recording of the Local Government Workforce seminar at UTS on 20 March 2018. Prior to seminar, the presenters comment on the topics and findings.
Lisa Connolly, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) talks about what kind of local government workforce data the ABS collects and why, and where to find resources.
Alex Lawrie from the UTS Institute for Public Policy & Governance and the Centre for Local Government talks about
The ABS collects a range of data that is really useful for local governments in understanding their communities. But, it’s not as well known that the ABS also produces data that can help local governments better understand their organisation.
For example, most of the Census reporting looks at where and how people live. But, the Census also collects data on where and how people work, including whether it is a government entity and what level of government. If we combine these data points, we can identify who worked for local government in a particular local government area.
This combination of data can be really useful for local governments in a number of ways. For example, when reviewing how they deliver services by showing how many staff it takes for them to deliver a particular service in comparison to other councils, or when planning for their workforce and looking at how many staff they retain over time or where they attract staff from.
Starting with the 2011 Census, we’ve been preparing national profiles of the local government workforce, and these profiles have provided some really useful insights into the sector.
For example, in 2011 and 2016, local government was the only level of government to have met Council of Australian Government targets for Indigenous employment in the public sector.
The 2011 Census data also revealed a large group of highly educated women in lower and middle management.
These workers have now started moving into senior management positions and there are almost 10% more female general managers today than there were in 2011.
Another really interesting insight is the way in which local governments contribute to place based employment and national productivity.
For example, there are over 420 local government areas where more than half the council workforce also lives locally, and this has great outcomes in terms of efficiency and quality of life as people can find jobs closer to where they live.
It might not come as a surprise that local governments are everywhere. But, this has important implications for the contribution of local government to employment in rural and regional areas when compared to other levels of government.
For example, a far greater proportion of local government employees work in regional and rural areas when compared to both state and Commonwealth Governments.
Full seminar recording follows.
- UTS Centre for Local Government first National Profile of the Local Government Workforce based on the 2011 Census data and other sources
- UTS Centre for Local Government recent ‘People Matters’ research on employee attitudes and perceptions of working in local government
- UTS Centre for Local Government workforce planning and development resources for local government: Workforce Planning Guidelines for Local Government in Tasmania; Workforce Planning and Development: Capacity Building Opportunities
- UTS Centre for Local Government Guide for Local Government on Using Demographic Data
- UTS Centre for Local Government National Local Government Workforce Strategy
- ABS Survey of Public Sector Employees and Earnings (incl. local government)
- NSW Office of Local Government report with number of FTEs per reports submitted by councils to OLG
Contact us for more information
UTS Institute for Public Policy and Governance/ UTS Centre for Local Government, University of Technology Sydney
15 Broadway, Ultimo, NSW 2007
Tel: 02 9514 7884
Lisa Conolly, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Australian Bureau of Statistics
Lisa has worked with the Australian Bureau of Statistics for 15 years, and has experience across the breadth of the ABS economic and social statistics programs. For the past 8 years, Lisa’s focus has been on providing a wide range of regional information from ABS and other government data sets. Prior to the ABS, Lisa spent 10 years working in Local Government including as Geographic Information Systems Manager and Community Planner. Lisa has an Executive Masters in Public Administration (Australian and New Zealand School of Government) and an Honours degree in Psychology (Macquarie University).
Professor Roberta Ryan, Director, UTS Institute for Public Policy and Governance/ UTS Centre for Local Government
Professor Roberta Ryan is a leading social researcher and policy, program evaluation and stakeholder engagement practitioner with over 30 years’ experience in both the public and private sectors. With a strong interest in the relationship between people and places she has worked in areas of community services, strategic planning, land use planning, sustainability, organisational change and development and citizen engagement. Roberta has completed over 300 social research and evaluation projects, and authored and co-authored numerous reports, journal articles, books and chapters. She is the co-author of the Institute's Local Government Workforce Profile publication.
Alex Lawrie, UTS Institute for Public Policy and Governance
Alex has years of experience applying specialist demographic analysis to challenges faced by governments. He is the co-author of the Institute’s Local Government Workforce Profile, which provided the first comprehensive picture of the local government workforce across Australia. The profile is one of the Institute’s most downloaded publications, and a vital resource for the local government sector. Alex has a keen interest working with public sector practitioners to apply demographic data to policy development and service delivery.