Learning in Local Government

About the Learning in Local Government Program

This project is an exploratory review of the unique and complex training needs of Australian local government, and is being conducted by the UTS Centre for Local Government (UTS:CLG). The project aims to inform and facilitate educational and professional development programs to be developed over the life of ACELG - Download project outline brochure 

The Learning in Local Government Project aims to explore gaps in content and availability of education and professional development that specifically relate to local government. ACELG and UTS:CLG are advocating an integrated national approach to education and training for the local government workforce that:

  • is forward looking and reflects the changing environment and role of local government;
  • addresses sector needs for essential skills now and into the future;
  • focuses equally on people working in the sector and meets their personal needs to enhance their skills and develop their careers; and
  • offers seamless pathways between vocational and higher education and ongoing professional development.   


ACELG and the UTS:CLG are working with stakeholders who are mutually supportive of creating greater development opportunities and who actively champion a national network of best practice education and professional development. As an outcome of this project research and program development will be distributed widely for the use of interested sector organisations. The Centres aim to provide practitioners and providers with a range of support, resources and opportunities for improving education and professional development.

Learning in Local Government -  Issues Papers

Issues Paper 1 - Preliminary Inventory and Gap Analysis

This paper has been designed as a consultation platform for scoping the issues and promoting discussion, debate and participation across the sector and states, and between suppliers and consumers. Download Paper

Issues Paper 2 - An Analysis of Sector Consultations and Perspectives

Submit This paper provides an analysis of over 900 responses to the Learning in Local Government Survey undertaken in 2010. The survey results were reviewed at the 2011 National Workforce Development Forum, and submissions were also received from local government educational and professional development organisations. The paper provides observations about the experiences and aspirations of participants in the Learning in Local Government online survey and associated consultations. Information was collected regarding existing training programs, the range and perceived suitability of course content, methods of delivery, gaps in training delivery, current networking between providers and councils and possibilities for national development of training courses and their application. Download Paper 

Issues Paper 3 - eLearning in Local Government

eLearning The use of technology offers many potential benefits for education and professional development in local government. The tyranny of distance, isolation of professionals within their organisations and across localities can be addressed through a range of online learning solutions. 

This paper suggests some benefits and barriers of eLearning for the consideration of training providers, councils and individual learners. It also includes a sample of existing eLearning programs and initiatives in local government across Australia and internationally, as well as an overview of web-based learning tools, software and applications, and other technological applications to develop and deliver online material. This paper provides information also available on the eLearning portal through the Learning in Local Government project. Download Paper

Issues Paper 4 - Workforce Planning and Development: Capacity Building Opportunities

Workforce Planning and DevelopmentAttracting, recruiting and retaining the large workforce of local government staff is challenging, as the labour market in Australia is characterised by an ageing workforce, technological change, and skills shortages.  Populations in some inland rural and remote areas are declining and in other areas competition for staff from the resources sector is stiff.  For Local Governments, therefore, the ability to plan for and develop their workforce is key to ensuring that they continue to be able to serve their communities.

This paper includes a survey of different training courses and resources available to councils, and outlines some key elements which might form part of any programme on workforce planning and development.  This overview is provided to inform the discussion of what is happening at state level and the analysis of key challenges and next steps. Download Paper

Issues Paper 5 - A National Review of Training and Development for Local Government Councillors

This national review of councillor training found that there is a range of high quality, relevant training and professional development available for local government councillors. There are, however, some gaps in the training and professional development being offered, with significant differences from state to state. There is also interest and a sector-wide desire to see a nationally coordinated approach to providing accredited programs that cover the full range of knowledge and skills required to fulfil the role of councillor. 

While high quality relevant training and professional development is available in most areas, this review found that uptake by councillors remains low. This is particularly true of accredited training. There is a need t o know more about successful strategies to make training more attractive and accessible to councillors, along with other methods to support them to carry out their roles effectively. Download Paper

Issues Paper 6 - A National Review of Education and Training in Local Government Skills Shortage Areas

At the heart of each of the skilled professions which are the subject of this report is the need for education and training which also provides practical knowledge and work-ready graduates. This report explores opportunities and gaps in education and training in the four areas of skills shortage, while also drawing some broader lessons.

The research found that courses are generally more easily accessed in urban areas, that challenges exist in delivering training to rural and remote areas, as well as to smaller cohorts that may render required course development unviable. 

In addition to access to courses, this review has also found that a range of factors are impacting on the uptake of available courses such as university retention rates; the capacity of TAFE courses to prepare students for university; the level of university support for TAFE students; funding for VET sector resource development; and attracting students to work in the skill shortage area professions. Download Paper

News & Events

08 May 2015
Two recent research papers from the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) and the Centre for Local Government at UTS (UTS:CLG) will assist local councils to learn from each other and consider in-house leadership initiatives for staff. read more »
02 April 2015
ACELG has released new research about local councils learning from each other. Variously called inter-council learning, policy transfer or peer learning, this approach to professional learning is important in a rapidly changing local government sector, and as councils increasingly look to each... read more »
27 February 2014
ACELG consortium partner the UTS Centre for Local Government (UTS:CLG) has developed a master’s level program tailored to local government in Australia and its contemporary issues. read more »
26 February 2014
Following the successful initial pilot of the Elected Members Program in Sydney in November 2013, the program has been evaluated, slight adjustments made, and the second pilot will commence in Coffs Harbour this Friday 28th February. read more »
15 October 2013
The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) at UTS has supported the development of a new course for NSW councillors called th read more »