Councils and Jobseekers Disagree On Work Flexibility and Corporatisation - first research highlights new challenges

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Disagreements between Councils and jobseekers on work flexibility and corporatisation –  where Councils’ see corporatisation as creating flexibility and jobseekers view it as mercenary cost cutting –  is part of new research that also reviewed external hiring, skill shortages, legislative impacts and digital strategies.  

These six topics make up this first comprehensive research study on trends and challenges for Australian Council recruitment over the next 5-10 years.

Officially launched today and presented at the Queensland Local Government Managers Association, the research was commissioned by CouncilJobs and executed by Jetty Research.  This involved a focus group to firstly determine the relevant questions and two nationwide surveys of 540 Council Human Resources (HR) Managers (220 completed) and 5600 jobseekers on (536 completed) which revealed six key findings. 

James Parker of Jetty Research said the first key findings on workplace flexibility revealed that Council HR Managers have a very different view to employees.

“For example, 71% of HR managers believed that moving from full-time to part time employment was as a flexible working arrangement, whilst only 29% of Council job seekers felt the same way,” he said.

“The research also showed that flexible work will be in more demand, particularly from women, over the next ten years and supply needs to match.”

Secondly, hiring from outside Council ranks is a continuing trend, particularly in finance and corporate services, although smaller, regional councils find this difficult to achieve in most areas with some saying just getting their job advertisements responded to was a challenge.

“We found that directors and culture and arts positions were more frequently hired externally in metro regions compared to remote areas - 44% to 25% - while regional and metro areas were most likely to hire outdoor and field staff externally - 31% regional, 33% metro and 6% remote,” said Parker.

“Overall 70% found that the external hiring process was a positive experience,” he said. 

However escalating salary expectations through external hiring is considered a drawback in NSW and ACT compared with Victoria and South Australia – 39%, 21% and 24% respectively – in metropolitan Councils compared with remote – 38% and 28%; and large Councils (>100k residents) – 43% compared to 28% among smaller Councils.

“Remote and smaller Councils however were more concerned with employees not understanding the realities and legislative constraints of Council - 75% compared with 64% regional and 65% metro,” Parker said.

The third major finding was the need for a national approach to skills shortages, with research showing there were too few good candidates available, particularly in the areas of engineering, health and planning.

“We also found that the most significant movement in demand from now to over the next five years in 11 different employment categories, were in Aged Services, Health Inspectors (and Rangers,” Parker said.

Differing attitudes between employers and employees to the rise and implications of Council corporatisation was the fourth area the research investigated.

“There was a 12% difference between HR managers and Job seekers as to whether they felt Councils were becoming more corporate, but overall both groups agreed corporatisation was happening,” said Parker.

“Another difference was that some Councils see corporatisation as meaning greater flexibility but jobseekers see this as mercenary and cost cutting.”

The research also revealed different views between sex and age, where 71% of males compared to 60% of females and those aged 45- 54 (76%), compared to those aged less than 35 (56%), were more likely to feel that Councils they are familiar with are behaving in a more corporate manner.  

Mr Tony Miller, Managing Director of CouncilJobs said these results show a potential cause for conflict and may make it harder to attract certain talent to Councils.

“If employers and jobseekers have a very different view of how they compare on a corporate scale this can be off-putting for jobseekers, who may be searching for a certain calibre of role which they feel a Council will not offer them,” he said.

The fifth key research outcome that goes hand in-hand with corporatisation is legislation which was also viewed as a ‘handbrake’ on pay and attracting and retaining talent, although this differed across states.

“Interestingly it was NSW and Victorian HR managers that felt the most constrained (>50% entirely or largely) and Queensland councils which did not feel constrained,” said Miller.

Lastly the research confirmed that recruitment methods had well and truly shifted from print to online.

“The research was clear that the shift in recruiting from print to online will continue. Councils will need to think harder about their digital strategies, and better promote their brand to attract quality staff,” he concluded.

For a copy of the final report – available at the end of November at cost but free to CouncilJobs clients - please contact Tony Miller on 0401 004 004 or email For media inquiries call Sharon Kelly on 0414 780 077 or email

The research will also be presented on 16 November at the LG NSW conference (16-18 November) in Sydney.


About CouncilJobs

CouncilJobs is the oldest specialist online recruitment resource for Councils, having started in 1999. It is a small Australian owned and independent company without links to large corporations or industry groups.

They have the most up to date, largest and targeted lists of council job seekers in Australia, covering thousands of current and former council staff and private subscribers.

The current national profile of CouncilJobs is as follows:

  • 5,600 active subscribers as at 1 October

1.Split equally Male/Female with a median age of 45

2.70% have worked or are now working in LG for a median time of 10 years

3.74% are currently in a White Collar Managerial or professional role

4.80% have equivalent to graduate qualifications or better

  • CouncilJobs Highest subscribed categories




4.Public Works                                

5.Community services                


About Jetty Research

Jetty Research, established in 2006 in Coffs Harbour, provides simple, credible and useful market research insights. Its client base includes the three tiers of government, businesses of widely varying sizes, and a range of academic and training institutions. It provides a variety of research approaches from online, paper and face to face to suit all requirements.