NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Strong Start

Fostering the next generation of planners in NSW

Planners are vital to shaping the communities we live in, by assisting to create vibrant and liveable cities, towns and regions for people to enjoy.

The department works with industry, local government and the private sector to support a skilled planning workforce in NSW. This workforce is critical to facilitating shorter assessment times and delivering good outcomes for communities.

Planning has not been immune to the skills shortage being felt across the country. The following initiatives aims to address this shortage connecting students with jobs, and councils with much-needed planners, particularly in our regional areas.

Mentoring program

To facilitate a strong start to our next generation of planners, we have launched our first mentoring program open to any student or graduate working at a council in NSW.

Students and graduates are paired with experienced planners at the department, who will share knowledge and expertise, provide coaching, expand professional networks, and support professional development. The program offers personal support when starting out in your career.

The mentoring program runs from April to December 2023.

Registrations are now open.

Apply now

Find out more in this Strong Start information pack (PDF, 612 KB) or read our frequently asked questions below.

Frequently asked questions

How long will the mentoring program run?

Strong Start will run for 8½ months, from April to December 2023.

Who can take part in the program?
  • Mentees: Any student or graduate planner, of any age, working for a NSW council
  • Mentors: Any department planner at a senior planner level (Grade PO2) or above.

Applicants must have the endorsement of their manager to participate.

Is there a fee to take part?

This is a department-sponsored program, so there is no fee for mentees and mentors to participate. Mentors give their time as volunteers.

How do I apply?

Complete the online application profile by 5pm Friday 24 March 2023.

The information you give will help us match the right mentee with the right mentor, based on experience, skills and what you both want to achieve from the program.

When will I know if I’ve been matched, and if so, with whom?

You should hear from us by Monday 3 April 2023 to confirm if you have been matched and the next steps to take.

What if I am not matched?

We will strive to match all mentees who complete the application if we have a suitable mentor.

Some mentors may not be matched if their expertise or experience is not suitable for any applicants. If we don’t have a suitable match for a mentor, we won’t pair you for the sake of putting you in the program. If a suitable match is not available, you may be able to apply or transfer for future programs.

What will I have to do if my application is successful?

If your application is successful, you will need to:

  1. Complete the Art of Mentoring online training. This will take approximately one hour and will give you the knowledge and skills to have a successful mentoring relationship.
  2. Attend 3 MS Teams webinar events:
    • Program launch
    • Mid-program review
    • Program close.

    Please see the table of key dates.

  3. Together with your mentoring partner, establish your own timetable for your one-on-one meetings, which should take place at least monthly throughout the program.
  4. Complete 3 surveys at the beginning, middle and end of the program so that we can give you support and ensure you are getting what you want from the program.
Will discussions between mentees and mentors be confidential?

Absolutely! Great mentoring relationships are based first and foremost on trust. Your participation in the program is confidential and you will agree with your mentoring partner on how you will handle confidentiality between you.

Student and graduate employment directory

Students and graduates can launch their careers by discovering a wide range of job opportunities on the Planning Institute of Australia’s Employment Directory.

We have partnered with the Planning Institute of Australia to create a new field “Student/Graduate Employment” on the employment directory to make it quicker and easier to discover relevant positions in local and state government, and the private sector.

Find your next job opportunity on the employment directory.

NSW councils can advertise for free

To help councils fill planner job vacancies, we are waiving the cost for all NSW councils to post an unlimited number of student or graduate planner jobs on the employment directory in 2023.

Councils can advertise student or graduate jobs for free. Simply download this Advertising Request form (PDF, 97 KB) and email it to employmentdirectory@planning.org.au

Page last updated: 01/03/2023