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A Port Stephens Council strategy for skilling workers wins acclaim

Publish Date 06/05/2015

A new approach to the way Port Stephens Council recruits and supports apprentices, cadets and trainees has been Highly Commended at the NSW Local Government Excellence Awards late last week.

Council launched its Apprentice, Trainee and Cadet Strategy in 2014 to attract and retain the best candidates, and provide a meaningful experience where the employees were mentored and supported in order to develop highly skilled workers.

The first influx of workers under the new strategy were recruited this year, when Council engaged a total of eight apprentices, cadets and trainees in a range of fields including three gardeners, two engineers, a mechanic and two business administration trainees.

The NSW Local Government Excellence Awards recognise the contributions, outstanding achievements and innovations being implemented to advance and improve the local government sector in NSW.

Michelle Gilliver-Smith, Council's Organisation Development Manager, said the award, presented at a gala ceremony on 30 April, was a further indication of the success of the strategy and yet another industry recognition of Council's commitment to its staff.

"The new strategy involved firstly moving the recruitment and management of these positions from individual sections into the Human Resources Unit, and ensuring supervisors were better equipped to manage the employee's progress," she said.

"We also instituted a program of rotations with other councils in the Hunter to ensure the employees were exposed to a range of experiences to meet the requirements for competency in their chosen field.

"The results were evident in the first year of the strategy, with 528 quality applications for eight available positions. Council has increased its return on investment and gained valuable and valued staff."

Ms Gilliver-Smith said Council's approach could be transferrable to other local government organisations and industries.

"Port Stephens Council has, and other councils can also mitigate the effects of an ad-hoc approach to the engagement, management and support of its apprentices, trainees and cadets," she said.

"By implementing this strategy, we have raised our profile as an employer of choice with a streamlined recruitment process, and improved relationships not only between supervisors and employees but with apprenticeship centres and Registered Training Organisations."