City budget targets young talent

08 Apr 2019

When the City of Newcastle announces its proposed 2019-20 budget on Thursday, it will include a commitment of more than $2.5 million to fund 44 roles targeted at recent university graduates and undergraduates, aspiring trainees and apprentices.

The draft budget, which Councillors will on 16 April be asked to place on public exhibition, contains provision for a record 44 roles specifically allocated for trainees, apprentices, undergraduates and graduate positions.

This is an increase of 47 per cent from the current commitment of 30 positions.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes with United Services Union Organiser, Luke Hutchison.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the investment was a highlight of the City’s $297 million 2019-20 draft operational budget, which the public is invited to view online from Thursday.

“As an emerging global City investing heavily in new technologies, we are putting a large focus on the recruitment of young people who can demonstrate the type of enthusiastic, innovative and creative qualities we require to help guide and lead our City’s future,” the Lord Mayor said said.

“Council currently spends less than $1 million annually on youth specific roles. We are making a conscious decision to significantly lift this spend in recognition of the many benefits that the organisation receives from the employment of apprentices, trainees, grads and undergrads.”

United Services Union (USU) Organiser Luke Hutchison welcomed the City’s announcement as a strong commitment to providing young Novocastrians with exciting career opportunities in local government.

“The United Services Union recognises the importance of diverse and inclusive workplaces. We know that young people can offer a new and unique perspective on many of the everyday challenges and opportunities that exist across the City of Newcastle and local government.

“The USU thanks the Lord Mayor, and the City of Newcastle, for their commitment to provide a record number of new roles for trainees, apprentices, and uni undergrads and graduates alike.

“We challenge other Local Government Areas across the Hunter to follow City of Newcastle’s lead in addressing the long-term skills gaps across the local government sector.”

Alexander Dunn will commence a full-time position as a Works Coodinator with City of Newcastle

City employee Alexander Dunn, 27, will commence a full-time position as a Works Coordinator within the City’s Civil Construction and Maintenance team next week having completed two years in the City’s graduate program.

The Bachelor of Civil Engineering graduate was on-boarded by the City’s Training and Learning team, who facilitate the recruitment of new staff and offer additional professional development opportunities.

Alex said he credits his promotion to the last two years working in the City’s graduate program.

“If I didn’t have the skills and competencies I’d earned in the grad program, I don’t think I’d have been successful,” he said.

“The great benefit I’ve gained from my experience is being treated as a person capable of completing tasks and worth bouncing ideas off. The City offers a very supportive environment -- no matter what team you’re in, people are willing to help you.

“My confidence has grown as a result, and I’m really looking forward to the next phase in my career.”

City of Newcastle CEO Jeremy Bath said the City would replicate Alex’s success across the organisation through the additional investment included in the upcoming budget.

“Our $2.5 million investment in young people will be spread across a range of units across Council to enable managers to recruit from a pool of talented young people who can demonstrate a keen ability to shape our City’s future,” Mr Bath said.

“We are committed to attracting and retaining high-quality staff by providing them with the skills and training necessary to progress and advance them through their career.

“We foster an environment where young staff can learn from experienced professionals while also offering us the passion and enthusiasm that comes when you commence your fulltime work career.

“Our record investment in local young people is just one of a raft of announcements within our upcoming budget. The budget will deliver a modest surplus achieved without the need to draw down on reserves to manage our spending. This will be the first time this has been achieved in almost a decade and speaks to the strong financial accountability of this Council.”