+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Sydney job market

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Syndey, Australia
    Posts
    130

    Sydney job market

    Anyone else based in Sydney?

    I've been looking for over a year in Sydney for suitable employment. I find this forum quite useful as PIA doesnt really have any advice except that there is a planning shortage.

    With the current economy and the NSW government going broke, a lot of smaller private firms have made many people redundant including myself.

    I have been working in the Sydney area for 2 years and worked previously overseas for 5 years. Im looking for work in Sydney, but with the economic crisis and the holiday season it has been hard.

    The Sydney job market is truly a mystery. Do they want just NSW experience? Total planning experience? Etc. I have had job offers previously that ranged form anywhere from 50-85k. The problem is there is no salary survey and recruiters in Sydney will tell you anything to get you to sign up.

    Even local government is a mess in NSW. Most places wont hire a planner with more than 2 years experience for fear that they will leave. Grad planners can walk straight in to a position paying 55-65k in local government.

    I went for state job paying 60k. That job was taken by someone with 5 years experience. For what reason I will never know. Maybe that planner doesnt have faith in their abilities. With the current crisis its amazing to think how low some planners have sunk in their career ambitions.

    Anyone have any comments on the Sydney planning market? I know definately WA and Queensland are less difficult. Why is it so hard to get a decent position in NSW? Supposedly there is a planner shortage, but yet employers are still picky. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Rem's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    NSW, Australia
    Posts
    1,530
    Hi expat123 - sorry that you are finding the job market so tight. I am no longer based in Sydney so maybe I can't be of assistance to you - I am two hours north at a large coastal council. I'm not sure whether you are complaining about low vacancies or not being able to crack a job or a job that pays enough. On my reading there are still lots of job ads around and while PIA don't do salary surveys, there are plenty of salary surveys around that feature planners, both local government and private sector (they are fee for service access though).

    At our Council we have maintained low vacancies amongst planners for about three years now (we carry about 40 planning roles and a similar number of support roles across development control and strategic planning). This followed a period of chronic shortages. I don't think we have acheived this through salary incentives though as I doubt we would meet your salary expectations - expressed here and in other threads. We are concerned about achieving and maintaining a reputation as an "employer of choice" and have focussed on affordable, mutually beneficial rewards to achieve that. Local Government in NSW is highly constrained financially and running salaries up is not sustainable. Higher salaries outside local government come with higher risk of continuity - it isn't reasonable to expect the certain employment of a Council combined with the higher salary of a consultancy.

    Our low staff turnover is a testament to the quality of the working environment we offer and pays off in staff development and work quality. It has the downside of limiting advancement opportunities so we accept staff will leave to advance their careers - we want them to know however, that when the right job comes up back with us, it is a prize worth pursuing.

    I was wondering from the tone of your postings whether you may be overly aggressive or cynical in your approach to prospective employers - maybe you are venting on Cyburbia and it doesn't reflect your employee persona. If I had a choice between two similarly competent planners, one who generalises about the shortcomings of local government and the decision makers working in it and one who wants to approach an employer with enthusiasm, I'd take the latter.

    For example, I can agree with some of your observations about the DoP and the poitical constraints they are bearing up to at present, but there are some good planners in that organisation and they have done some good things over the years. You are also tarring all Councils with the same brush based on your experience, which I assume is not universal.

    I'm suggesting you take a more positive attitude into your recruitment endeavours, recognise the risk/return trade-off and if you can't countenance the regions (middle of nowhere?) then you have to eccept what is on offer in Sydney - which remains voluminous.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Syndey, Australia
    Posts
    130
    Rem,

    Thanks for the reply. Of course Im generalising. I never said this was true of ALL councils in NSW. Im generalising about NSW and the DoP. Yes there is good with the bad. But in reality NSW planning is far behind WA, Victoria and Queensland.

    No I dont bring this attitude on interviews. In fact I interview quite well and being overqualified is a problem for me. I also have a wide variety of experience of planning in 3 continents. Employers have commented I might get bored (definately would assessing DA's all day). Before planning I worked in sales and interviewing is easy for me, even if I have to fake it.

    Regional planning is good for some people and thats fine. Some of us need to stay close to a metropolitan area for the lifestyle, community groups, etc. Im sure your doing a good job at your council and its great to hear. Nothing is more rewarding than doing a job you love. Congrats.

    That being said....

    I have to strongly disagree with your point about "guaranteed" employment at a Council. Councils are going with contracts based upon performance in and around Sydney. All it takes is a change of GM or group manager to make certain positions redundant including planners, engineers and landscape architects (hard to replace these positions) on a contract or Not. I've seen it myself and heard of others.

    Also I have seen for myself (and heard about planners at other councils) council Principle/Senior Planners working more than the STANDARD 35 hour work week to get certain things done (IE NSW standard LEP). Im not talking about every now and then, but in the terms of 3 out of 5 nights a week. These planners work about 50-55 hours a week minimum. I figure if you are working that much you might as well work at a consultancy and get paid appropriately for the hours put in. Management in Council get paid well and the only responsibility they really have is to look after a budget and attend meetings. The principals take all the heat and spend more time working. In fact Even "part-time" planners that have children are constantly pulled in. PIA's 2004 inquiry into planning supports this as well as the National Local government survey (also on the PIA site). So I doubt Im making it up.

    Take my comments with a grain of salt. Im sure there are people doing great things in planning in NSW. I commend them. On the other hand I am not one to "sugar coat' things. That is just me.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian natski's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2005
    Location
    In my own little bubble
    Posts
    2,564
    I dont have the time to reply like REM, but being a local government planner in Sydney, i disagree with the majority of what you have said on this thread.

    Plus, for senior planners working for local government, that get paid the equivalent of what a private planner would get, i dont see the issue in doing overtime, which is what i do constantly. You get paid the big bucks- you do the hard work?

    Although i dont always agree with everything the DoP does, it doesnt reflect the decisions of the people that work there- and i have had dealings with quite a few people there that are great planners.

    anyways thats my very quick opinion.
    "Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?" Zoolander

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Rem's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    NSW, Australia
    Posts
    1,530
    Quote Originally posted by expat123 View post
    Im sure your doing a good job at your council and its great to hear. Nothing is more rewarding than doing a job you love. Congrats.
    Just to clarify expat, don't love my job, don't claim to be doing it well.

    Quote Originally posted by expat123 View post
    I have to strongly disagree with your point about "guaranteed" employment at a Council. Councils are going with contracts based upon performance in and around Sydney.
    I'm very surprised to hear that it is becoming typical for Council's to employ planners below manager level on contract. Above manager you are almost obliged by the LG Act to employ under contract.

    Widespread use of contracts is not conducive to employer of choice status and is counter-logical to maintaining low vacancies in a tight job market. I scan the vacancies and don't see 'contracts' being referred to in advertisements other than short term placements - it would be pretty unethical, IMO, to drop that on a candidate after a recriutment process has started.

    Hours are always an issue with planners because of the nature of the work and expectations around timeframes, however, consistently high levels of unremunerated extra time is not appropriate. Time in lieu, or overtime, or some other arrangement should be provided. The situations you are describing don't make sense - if Councils you know can't keep vacancies low, why treat staff like they are in a buyer's market? I might be more out of touch than I thought.

    Good luck with the job hunting.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Syndey, Australia
    Posts
    130
    Hi Rem,

    Hours are always an issue with planners because of the nature of the work and expectations around timeframes, however, consistently high levels of unremunerated extra time is not appropriate. Time in lieu, or overtime, or some other arrangement should be provided. The situations you are describing don't make sense - if Councils you know can't keep vacancies low, why treat staff like they are in a buyer's market? I might be more out of touch than I thought.

    A good case study of the situation would be Blacktown and Baulkham Hills council. There was a mass exodus of strategic planners at both of these councils recently. I do not know the exact reasons and Im not going to even try to speculate.

    Widespread use of contracts is not conducive to employer of choice status and is counter-logical to maintaining low vacancies in a tight job market. I scan the vacancies and don't see 'contracts' being referred to in advertisements other than short term placements - it would be pretty unethical, IMO, to drop that on a candidate after a recriutment process has started.
    Contracts around the Sydney area have been common for engineers, planners and landscape architects. It allows the LG to pay more money to make the position more attractive, but at the expense of job security. I do not know about regional NSW, but Definitely common around Sydney for planners and senior planners.

    Maybe contact the Local government branch of PIA? I use to attend some of their meetings before a few years ago. I have to agree with another poster on the PIA topic that said they are very much 'back patting" events. A typical session would be a planner showing off the work they have been doing. Which can be interesting, but when its the same people over and over again. I think they should focus more on employment issues and the recruitment of future planners/mentoring.

    I definitely find this forum interesting and other views from the profession and different geographical locations, especially in Australia. PIA has a forum, but I refuse to pay $300 plus for access to a magazine and a forum. I just flipped through an old issue of the PIA magazine, usually someone will write an article from a firm and an ad for the firm will appear on the same page. Its not so bad though when an employer picks up the tab for membership or you can get a student discount though.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Hi from Sydney
    Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 2
    Last post: 04 Dec 2012, 10:44 PM
  2. Hi from Sydney
    Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 2
    Last post: 18 Apr 2010, 11:33 AM
  3. New from Sydney
    Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 5
    Last post: 08 Feb 2008, 9:17 AM

Posting rules

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts