Riverina councils are set to receive NSW Government funding to help the next generation of town planners through a cadetship program.
The Griffith, Wagga Wagga, Junee and Coolamon councils are set to receive a share of $1.85 million as part of the Strong Start Cadetship Program to help pay the tuition fees of young planners.
The State Government launched the cadetship program to address the planning skills shortage, particularly in regional NSW. The funding will enable council-employed students to receive a free or discounted degree and practical work experience while boosting council planner numbers.
Wagga Wagga Mayor Dallas Tout congratulated the government for initiating the cadetship program.
“Our council immediately applied for participation in the program,” Cr Tout said.
“We are absolutely confident that this initiative will be an amazing and positive step in promoting careers in planning for anyone looking to build a career and lifestyle in regional NSW.
“This program will establish a whole new generation of planners who grew up in regional NSW and will now be employed in planning the future of their own communities – as a start to a new career, there will be few opportunities which are any better.”
Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully welcomed all councils’ responses to the cadetship program.
He said the Government received 115 applications from 74 councils after the decision was made to boost the program with $250,000 in additional funding and provide $25,000 to each council that applied.
“This will help more councils invest in future planners to help address a workforce shortage and tackle the housing crisis across the state,” Mr Scully said.
“It was only a month ago that we put the call out to councils seeking applications for the program, which had 64 grants available to help cover some or all of a student planner’s university fees.”
Mr Scully said 60 of the 74 councils that applied for the program were from regional areas.
He said the local governments had been crying out for planners, particularly in the regional areas, where the positions had remained unfilled.
“We’re addressing the skills shortage from the ground up, by helping councils build a pipeline of young planning talent aimed at setting up the state’s planning future for success,” he said.
“This funding will bring a fresh wave of new planners to councils, giving them a helping hand to clear their development application backlogs and speed up assessment times, which will drive better outcomes for our communities.”
Local Government NSW president Darriea Turley said NSW councils and communities were suffering from the impacts of skills and labour shortages.
“I want to congratulate the Government on this initiative, investing in the next generation of planning specialists in local governments across NSW,” Ms Turley said.
“One of our key Local Government NSW priorities has been to call for the NSW Government to commit to incentives such as cadetships to address skills shortages in the local government sector.”
The $25,000 grant can be used to fund tuition fees for an undergraduate certificate, graduate certificate, diploma, bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in planning.
For more information, visit the Strong Start webpage.