The Workforce Working Party (WWP) identifies local government present and future workforce needs, and develops guidance and/or solutions so chief executives can meet those needs cost-effectively.


  • monitor the environment within which local authorities operate and provide the Chief Executive with timely advice on issues that fall within its scope
  • provide sound strategic advice in regards SOLGM’s learning and development and recruitment and retention activities
  • stay informed of, and advise in regards the skill and capability issues raised in the work of other working parties
  • operate, at all times, in accordance with effective and prudent commercial practice
  • build effective working relationships with other sector organisations (e.g. Equip, New Zealand Planning Institute) and private sector providers.

View/download the Workforce Working Party (WWP) Terms of Reference

Current Members:


Karleen Edwards, Chief Executive - Christchurch City Council

Deputy Chair: Richard Bird, People and Capability Manager - Rotorua District Council


Susan Jones, Human Resources and Administration Manager - Gore District Council

Ian Maxwell, Community Services Director - Auckland Council

Frances Smorti, Human Resources Manager - Manawatu District Council

Shameel Sahib, Head of Strategy and Capability - Auckland Council

2017/18 Report from Capability Working Party Chair 2016/17

Dr Karleen Edwards, Chief Executive, Christchurch City Council

The focus of this working party is on a wide scope of current and future workforce challenges experienced by local government.

The 2017/18 year was a period of transition for the Workforce Working Party. With significant changes in key membership there was a period of recession whilst we reactivated the group and restored momentum. The first two meetings of the Workforce Working Party were held and significant productive work was achieved including:

  • commissioning the Future Workforce Report by PwC
  • holding the Future Workforce Forum
  • developing case study templates (in progress)
  • sketching out People and Capability Toolkit Architecture to sit in the Sector Good Toolkit.

Rather than reinvent a work programme we have looked at the significant work that the previous Workforce Working Party had underway. In particular, this involved reviewing the workforce data project, e-learning, toolkits, LGConnect discussion groups, information sharing and collaboration.

Specific projects:

Future Workforce Data Report

Rather than conduct a further survey of councils, the working party decided to use nationally aggregated, anonymised information that was currently available from the PwC Performance Excellence Programme, any previous SOLGM recruitment and retention reports and any other publicly available information from agencies such as Stats NZ to identify common issues and trends facing the sector. A draft report by PwC has been received by the working party. Key themes of interest so far include staffing that does not necessarily represent the diversity of the communities we serve, gender imbalances, improving the retention of Generation Y employees and, at the other end of the scale, ensuring good career planning, succession planning and transitions into retirement.

The working party will look at integrating these issues into its 2018/19 work programme.

Government Regulatory Practice Initiative (G-Reg)

G-Reg is a joint central/local government initiative to improve the standard of regulatory practice and develop the capability of the public sector regulatory workforce. The primary focus has been the development of qualifications in regulatory compliance which are recognised by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). Of the 1,400 people who have undertaken the qualification, about 25% are from local government. Whilst SOLGM’s sector improvement team is involved in this initiative, the Workforce Working Party sees it as an important opportunity to increase the professional qualifications of our local government regulatory workforce.

Development of a LGSectorGoodToolkit

The working party is continuing previous work on developing the People and Capability toolkit architecture as part of the LGSectorGood Toolkit. The working party will explore developing a framework for curating information on legislation, capability, talent recruitment, retention and attraction, HR practices, policies and procedures, and case studies on diversity.

Future Workforce Forum

The Future Workforce Forum held at Ellerslie Racecourse on 7–8 June was very successful with 49 registrants from across the country. Thanks to all of our presenters who all provided informative and inspiring messages. Forum topics included:

  • diversity — how to ensure council staff reflect the community they serve
  • performance management — assessing and choosing appropriate systems to meet local needs and the culture you want to create
  • creating a culture of continuous improvement
  • the living wage
  • collaborative working and shared services in the HR, organisational development and learning & development (L&D) spaces
  • flexible work places
  • delivering great L&D and a coordinated learning approach.

It was also helpful to gather feedback from the action learning sessions on key themes and challenges to ensure our work programme is aligned to sector needs. Issues raised by the attendees included:

  • the need to collaborate and share information and solutions to common issues and challenges
  • SOLGM providing leadership by developing white papers on relevant people and capability issues e.g. flexible working
  • accessing good analytical skills to help with strategic decision-making regarding people and practice
  • the need for different approaches related to size, scale and resourcing within councils
  • how to have a unified response to common workforce challenges e.g. recruiting hard to fill roles, dealing with demographic challenges, pay equity and diversity.

These issues align well with the PwC workforce data above and we will be looking at how we can incorporate them into our work programme so that we can help councils to respond to these issues and challenges.

The members of the Workforce Working Group are: Karleen Edwards (Chair), Richard Bird (Deputy Chair), Susan Jones, Ian Maxwell, Shameel Sahib and Frances Smorti. They were very ably supported by Fiona Purchas and Leeanne Templer from SOLGM.

I would like to thank all of the members for their enthusiastic commitment to future-proofing the local government workforce.