What’s happening to employment in Councils?

Demand by Councils everywhere for good people has never been greater. Since the end of the first Pandemic lockdowns in 2020, Council recruitment across Australia and New Zealand has hit peaks never seen before. But even before the Pandemic hit, we saw evidence of rapidly growing Council demand for talent that could not be satisfied by the normal rate of new JobSeekers to the sector.

Noticing these changing employment dynamics, CouncilJobs focussed on researching the problem in early 2021 and in conjunction with HRhub partners Blackadder Associates and Leonards Advertising, published the Resonate 21 Report which found for Australia, in the year to June 30, 2020.

  • The Australian council sector workforce was 154, 280 FTE* (when New Zealand is added, it was 218,550 spread across 685 LGA’s**)
  • Faced with the highest rates of population growth of all types of LGA’s (Metro cities, Regional cities, Rural towns & Remote Districts), on a percentage basis, Regional cities had the highest Workforce and Remuneration growth

* FTE - Full-time equivalent Employees

**LGA – Local Government Area


Twice as many jobs offered in Australian councils in 2021 vs 2020

In the calendar year to Dec 31, 2021, Australian councils advertised 32,111 jobs vs 15,974 in the twelve months prior, an increase of 101%. This marked increase reflects three factors at work.

  • The significant reduction in council recruitment in 2020 due to Pandemic lockdowns and associated council hiring freezes
  • An ongoing skills shortage for key professionals, especially in the areas of Engineering, Town planning, Health/Building surveyors/Inspectors and Environment. These skills shortages have been ongoing in the council sector since at least 2015.
  • The national skills shortage related to the Pandemic and the associated international border closure

The State with the largest increase in recruitment in 2021 vs 2020 was Victoria 124% (9213 jobs were advertised in 2021 vs 3484 in 2020), while, despite having the biggest absolute increase in job ads, NSW had the lowest increase in recruitment from year to year at 72% (10012 jobs in 2021 vs  5609 in 2020).

Despite the increased casualisation of the Australian workforce generally, employment type remained stable across Australia from year to year with 84% of all Job ads offering full time employment, 8% part time & 8% Casual. Victoria retained its lead for maximising use of Part-time & Casual employment with 25% of all Jobs being offered this way, although the proportion of Part time jobs in the state total was down from 29% in 2020.


Here's a tip

It is CouncilJobs view that these conditions, which are ongoing in 2022, make it the best time to consider a career in Council, as Councils improve pay and conditions to make working in council more attractive than ever.