A NSW Government website

New diploma gives the future of planning a strong start

21 Apr 2024

In a first for NSW, budding planners will soon have a TAFE pathway into the planning profession with a new diploma open for enrolments.

The brand-new Diploma of Local Government (Planning) will support school leavers and future planners on their way into paraplanning, a role that manages a lot of the initial assessment, research and review to provide valuable support to planners.

Through a collaboration between the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure, TAFE NSW, Local Government NSW and the Planning Institute of Australia, the Diploma has been adapted from TAFE SA’s curriculum to reflect planning practices in NSW.

The Australian National Skills Commission has identified planning as a skills shortage area with a strong future demand, with strong demand for a diploma of this nature.

In a recent survey, more than 85 per cent of council respondents indicated they would consider upskilling existing staff with the qualification or employing planning cadets currently enrolled in the diploma.

Between 2021-22 and 2022-23, shortages of planners contributed to a 28 per cent increase in the average number of days taken to determine local development applications in NSW.

A recent Productivity Commission report found that between 2016 and 2021, Sydney lost twice as many people aged 30 to 40 as it gained. 35,000 came to Sydney, but 70,000 left.

While we have a whole generation of people who can't afford to rent or buy a home in NSW, we can’t afford to be slowing down housing approvals.

In addition to the TAFE Diploma, the Strong Start Mentoring Program which began in February with 60 mentors continues, and registrations are now open for up to 250 planning mentors and mentees.

Planning students and recent graduates working in councils across the state are invited to register to be paired with experienced planners for professional coaching and support.

This year, senior planners in local government are also invited to register as mentors. Last year’s inaugural program was an overwhelming success, with all participants reporting improved wellbeing, job satisfaction, career development and personal growth.

One mentee from Shoalhaven City Council described their greatest takeaway as “the ability to feel confident in prioritising my career needs and then working out ways to achieve them.

“My mentor helped me identify strategies to build my confidence and encouraged me to improve communication lines with my supervisor around my needs,” they said.

Mentees receive ongoing professional development with quarterly check-ins and workshops run by professional facilitators.

Group sessions will be available for participants to engage in peer-to-peer mentoring.

For more information about the Diploma or Strong Start visit Strong Start.

NSW Planning Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully said:

“Our role is to create capacity in the planning system for industry to deliver more homes, services and jobs.

“Addressing the planning skills shortage through TAFE and the Strong Start mentoring program will play a critical role in delivering better and more timely outcomes for communities.

“Planners do work that benefits everyone. I’m pleased that the NSW Government is continuing to support this vital profession with this new pathway and by connecting existing talent with emerging talent.”

Minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education Steven Whan said:

“This new Diploma will help deliver a strong pipeline of skilled workers to the planning industry.

“Planners are a key part of alleviating the NSW housing crisis and I’m glad TAFE can play a role in training the next generation.”