Sunday, February 25, 2024

Shellharbour hits back at Union claims it ‘trashed’ jobs mandate

The Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Shellharbour City have hit back at claims by the United Services Union (USU) that Council has “trashed” an opportunity to create jobs and careers through cadetships, apprenticeships and traineeships (CATs).

Mayor Chris Homer and Deputy Mayor, Kellie Marsh say USU General Secretary Graeme Kelly’s criticism of Council’s record of creating job opportunities for young people was ill informed and misleading.

The comments followed Council’s consideration at its 23 August meeting of a proposed motion for consideration at the 2022 Local Government NSW Annual Conference in October. 

The motion was, ‘That LGNSW advocates for action to address difficulties in attracting and maintaining skilled staff with incentives and measures to increase apprenticeships, cadetships and traineeships in local government, thereby developing and increasing qualified staff, with a minimum benchmark target of 5% of all council employees being apprentices, cadets and trainees.’

The elected Council voted against the proposed motion. 

Mayor Homer called on Mr Kelly to apologise for his public claim that Council had dumped a policy mandating that 5% of local government workers across NSW should be young people employed in CATs.

“Given that Shellharbour City Council’s CAT workforce is 6.2% (23 positions), Mr Kelly’s comments were not based in fact and were designed to mislead the community,” Mayor Homer said.

“To that Council had ‘dumped’ or ‘trashed’ local youth is insulting and wrong. Mr Kelly is quoted referring to a non-existent policy – the issue related to a proposed motion for the upcoming LGNSW Conference, not a policy. He either did not understand the proposal or deliberately misled the public.

“In any case, I do not believe that metropolitan and large regional councils should be placing an expectation on smaller regional and country councils to meet a particular CAT target. They face different challenges when it comes to staffing, based on population and geography.

“I would encourage Mr Kelly to retract his comments and apologise to myself and Cr Marsh for his direct verbal attack,” Mayor Homer said.

At the Ordinary Meeting on 22 February meeting, Council resolved to request Council officers to investigate and prepare a report on the establishment of a formal CAT programme, with the aim of building Council’s growing in-house skilled workforce capacity with a view to both current and future staffing requirements.

The report will be considered at an upcoming Council meeting.

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