Careers within local government aren’t all centred on bureaucracy and politics as many people may imagine. Everyone working within the sector helps to build the community and make sure it runs smoothly while meeting the expectations of the people living there.
By choosing a career within local government you will join a team who are dedicated to making the community a better place to live, work and play for everyone, every day.
The career opportunities available across the local government sector are vast and diverse – from Animal Control Officers to Water Specialists; Building Inspectors through to Transport Planners and so much more.
They say that money makes the world go around, and in an organisation as complex as a council it is important that every dollar is spent wisely, and that the ratepayers feel the right choices are being made. By choosing to start a career in the account and finance department within local government you will become part of team that is charged with setting budgets for projects in your community both big and small, and ensuring everyone is making wise fiscal decisions.
From greeting ratepayers and members of community who are registering their dog or requesting information on a property they are wanting to purchase the customer service representatives in councils are the face of local government. No day will ever be the same with so many tasks and requests - and it's not just front counters and phone calls - don't forget local government operates swimming pools, theatres, museums and all sorts of facilities in your area and these can't operate without the best customer service and administration staff.
Every building in your community must be safe and suitable for the purpose it is built. From the towering office buildings in a large city centre to a local fish and chip shop in a small coastal town, every school and each home where people live.
To ensure that the buildings in your area meet the suitable requirements council officers visit the sites where they are inspected to ensure they are fit for the purpose they are built for and safe for residents to use.
From earthquakes and flooding to medical outbreaks, tsunami and volcanic eruptions every community needs to be sure they have a resilience plan for if an emergency situation affects them. The team within the Civil Defence and Emergency Management (CDEM) offices are the people who ensure that each community is prepared to cope with the situations that could potentially affect them.
Alongside front line help and communications during the course of an emergency event the CDEM teams are responsible for assessing potential risks in the regions as well as understanding the needs of their communities and ensuring that everyone is aware of how to cope in the event of an emergency.
Working in communications and marketing in local government allows you to enjoy a varied work day where you may find yourself writing press releases for the media, briefing elected members and senior management for a media interview, updating social media channels and helping to coordinate community consultation documents.
With so many staff members and elected members making up each council, and hundreds of stories to be told the role of the communications manager is an integral part of ensuring the community are kept up to date with what their council is doing for them.
As councils are dedicated to serving their communities they rely on residents communicating their views and concerns on a large number of topics including annual and long term plans, transport decisions and other important decisions for their region.
Staff in the community engagement department are responsible for ensuring the community are aware of what is happening within council and making it clear to members of the public how they are able to engage with their council.
Within local government democratic services departments there are a number of teams that coordinate meetings for the elected members, committees and community boards.
The democratic services teams also process submissions from the public on a variety of topics from the Long Term Plan, Annual Plans and Special Consultative Procedures. They also provide administrative support for elected members and ensures that elections and polls run by the Council fully comply with legislation.
Councils are dedicated to creating strategies and plans which improve the economy of their communities. Staff within the council economic development department play two key roles for the organisation: to providing leadership in policy making and administrating policy programmes and projects which help boost the local economy.
Economic development staff are expected to provide advice to business customers seeking economic development services (including business and film enquiries). They are also expected to manage economic development projects, contribute to policy and advice to Council (with a particular focus on economic development policy and strategy work) and assist with the maintenance of the city's economic and business information and statistics.
Working as an engineer in local government puts you in the forefront of the creation and on-going operation of your community's critical infrastructure. Council engineers are responsible for projects ranging from surveying to designing and implementing the creation of landfills and ensuring the local roads are maintained.
Council engineers will also find themselves liaising with and working beside other key council staff members including contractors and water treatment staff.
Everything has some form of environmental impact on our regions from weeds, chemical spills, unwanted pests, air pollution and protecting our native species. Local government, and particularly regional councils are often in the position of being a referee.
Councils must manage the demands of industry, for example farming and forestry, while balancing the needs of those who wish to keep New Zealand's environment pure and untouched.
Councils own a large number of properties and venues. By working in the facilities management area within local government you are able to ensure these properties meet the required service levels and expectations of our the community users.
Facilities managers have extensive responsibilities for the development and maintenance of a large number of services. They are responsible for all the activities related to the council's commercial property assets, ensuring all aspects of corporate facilities are optimised and consistent with its company's needs and strategies.
The council's human resources team are responsible for staff and personnel matters across the organisation. Responsibilities include recruitment and selection, health, safety and well-being and performance management.
Working in human resources involves identifying and planning staff learning and development, developing strategies for human resources areas such as recruitment, remuneration, learning and development, change management and legislative compliance.
Council hydrology workers monitor, manage and protect the waterways in their community. By ensuring the effective flow of water through channels and pipes and the quality of both swimming and drinking water they contribute to the effeicient planning, development and sustainable use of the region's water in a cost effective way.
Hydrology staff will use detailed data sources, computer modelling tools and other key resources to collect, analyse and interpret data relevant to the waterways in their area.
Information and communication technology (ICT) staff plan, supervise and operate the computer and information technology services across the councils.
ICT staff will be involved in planning and implementing the computer and information systems needed to run the council's operations, advise on computer equipment and software and train staff on the uses of computer systems and manage the helpdesk area within council.
GIS staff and geospatial specialists gather, combine, analyse and use information that has a geographic or spatial (location based) component and present this information in more user-friendly formats such as maps and 3D models. In some cases their work may include development of geospatial software and related online services.
Electronic mapping is used across many aspects of council including electoral boundaries, transport planning, housing locations for LIMS and asset management. Many of the maps and data created by council GIS staff will be made available to members of the public for easy access to key information.
There are many legally sensitive areas within councils including ensuring the processes and procedures being undertaken by council staff comply with relevant legislation.
Legal staff in councils may find themselves offering advise to management, staff and elected members.
Your local council provides many leisure facilities for the community including swimming pools, skate parks, stadiums and gyms.
From the lifeguards at your local pool to the the personal trainer at your gym are employed by council.
All public libraries in New Zealand are owned and operated by your council. When working in a library you will be involved in helping customers using the technology to find the items and information they need and help customers borrow the books, cds, dvds and e-books they want.
Many libraries also run afterschool and/or holiday reading programmes, special events, and training events.
Councils offer a large range of management opportunities due to the size and nature of their organisations. Most areas within councils are led by a general manager with each department having a unit manager and various team leaders across the organisation.
The highest position within any council is the Chief Executive, who is tasked with the overall operation of council including the hiring of staff members. The chief executive is the only position within council who is appointed by the elected members.
From children's playgrounds to vast botanical gardens and urban plantings the council works hard to ensure that their community has a healthy and attractive selection of planting and recreational areas for the residents to enjoy.
The parks and horticulture staff are responsible for the planning, planting and maintenance of the region's gardens and parks as well making sure trees are not obstructing power lines, water pipes and other critical infrastructure.
The decisions councils make will affect the entire community and it's important they receive the correct information to be able to make effective decision. The staff in the policy and planning department gather and analyse the key information to ensure that council policies are developed correctly.
Policy and planning staff will work on identifying issues to research and analyse, interpret and review existing policy, evaluate available options and make recommendations for new policies.
Procurement staff create up-to-date strategies to deliver goods and services that best meet the council's needs. They work with suppliers to get the right solutions, at the right time, for the best price, quality and value.
The procurement department's role includes assessing the council's goals and its needs for goods and services, negotiating and monitoring complex deals and relationships with suppliers, setting and overseeing policies and plans for purchasing, storing and distributing goods or services
Regulations are set by the council to ensure that our communities are a safe and enjoyable place to live. Regulatory and enforcement staff are there to ensure that the food we eat from cafes and restaurants meets health requirements, that our neighbours don't play their stereos too loud at their parties every weekend and that ships coming into the habour berth at the wharves and not on our reefs.
Many of the regulations and rules that are applied by the council have been outlined by central government to ensure that there is consistency, but a number of regulations and by laws are specific to an area and have been created to meet the need and expectations of members within their community.
Many of the museums, art galleries, Christmas Parades and concerts held in your region are operated and organised by your council. Some of these events are organised solely by the council - perhaps the local Guy Fawkes display or a New Years Eve party, but even when they are being organised by an outside group the council will be needed to issue consents, liquor licenses or to ensure the roads are safe.
Museums and art galleries are operated by the council to ensure community talents and stories are available to the people of you area and to visitors from outside as well. By working within the tourism and events team at your council you are ensuring that you are part of the team committed to this.
Buses, taxis and cars all need to run smoothly on our roads and the transport and roading team at your local council are there to ensure this is able to happen. Of course it's not just the vehicles on the road - council staff plan and implement the management and creation of pedestrian crossings and bike lanes for the community.
Another key aspect of the transportation and roading department is ensuring that our roads are safe for the community using them. This work includes developing and implementing initiatives to improve road user safety alongside investigating traffic problems and recommending methods to improve traffic flow and safety.
All drinking, waste and storm waters are managed by councils across the country to ensure that we have clean and healthy water to drink, our wastes are being effectively and sustainably managed and that our storm water is taken away from our homes and commercial areas without adverse effects.