New Cadet Program aims to tackle skills shortage in urban planning

This program offers cadets a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience while pursuing a Diploma in Local Government (Planning) through TAFE SA.

In a move to address the growing skills shortage in the built environment professions, the State Government has launched the Para Planner Cadet Program. This initiative is set to open doors for young individuals, offering them a chance to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of urban and regional planning.

The program, a collaborative effort led by the Planning and Land Use Services (PLUS) within the Department for Trade and Investment, involves partnerships with the Department for Education, TAFE SA, and the Planning Institute of Australia – SA. Slated to start in 2024 and run until mid-2027, this 2.5-year pilot program is a promising step towards nurturing the next generation of skilled para planners.

Para planners are crucial in supporting qualified planners, contributing significantly to various professional projects. Their responsibilities include participating in on-the-job training, handling customer queries, and playing a part in development application processes. This program offers cadets a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience while pursuing a Diploma in Local Government (Planning) through TAFE SA.

What makes the Para Planner Cadet program particularly inclusive is its openness to all individuals under 21, including high school leavers, irrespective of their ATAR results. This approach emphasizes a practical, hands-on method to workforce development, making it an attractive alternative for young people seeking career pathways beyond traditional undergraduate enrolments.

PLUS is actively encouraging participation from the private sector and SA Councils to offer cadetship placements. This not only supports young talent but also addresses the current shortage of urban and regional planners. The program’s launch coincides with the closing of preference changes for Semester One undergraduate enrolments in 2024, highlighting its role as an alternative career path.

Nick Champion, MP, Minister for Planning, emphasized the significance of urban and regional planners in creating liveable, sustainable communities. “The Para Planner Cadet program provides a significant opportunity for agencies, councils, and consulting firms to increase their resources and improve their services at a time when the industry is crying out for more planners,” he stated. Champion also highlighted the program’s potential to alleviate current pressures on planning teams and its role in supporting young talent.

Addressing the planner shortage is crucial for South Australia to tackle challenges like housing affordability, population growth, and transitioning to a sustainable future. “The Para Planner Cadet program is an opportunity for school leavers and young people to consider a rewarding career which puts you at the fore of building and planning South Australia for the future,” Champion added.

Local Government Association President, Mayor Dean Johnson, also expressed support, noting the ongoing planning shortages faced by councils, both metropolitan and regional. “Our state is experiencing rapid residential growth, with increased demand for new housing placing greater strain on councils,” he said. Johnson believes that the Para Planner Cadet Program will provide a much-needed pathway for more qualified local planners to enter the workforce, ensuring sustainable development in communities.

This initiative represents a collaborative effort between local and state governments to address housing availability and affordability issues across South Australia, marking a significant step towards a more efficiently planned and sustainable future.

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