2023 is a milestone year for Local Jobs First (LJF): marking 20 years since the introduction of the Local Jobs First Policy, and 5 years since the establishment of the Local Jobs First Commissioner role and Office (OLJFC) in August 2018. Since then, the OLJFC has witnessed a strong growth in LJF strategic projects under the Commissioner’s remit, with more than 200 projects currently underway across road, rail, health, education, housing, sport, and community infrastructure in Victoria – valued at over $85 billion.

The OLJFC has currently engaged with 98% of the 123 LJF strategic projects in execution phase. This has involved meetings across 27 lead agencies and with other industry and government stakeholders, and has included a number of LJF project site visits. The OLJFC has also continued to conduct the OLJFC audit program across our project remit.

This expanded project engagement approach enables the OLJFC to inform government agencies and their contractors while projects are underway, and to improve the understanding and effective implementation of LJF Policy across these projects. This drives improved achievement of successful LJF project and compliance outcomes.

More recently, one of our key learnings through this engagement has been the importance of government agencies communicating with local industry directly and early (either themselves and/or through their suppliers) any forecast shifts in project timeframes for local jobs first requirements. I strongly encourage this direct engagement from government agencies and their suppliers to enable local businesses to be able to plan and prepare appropriately, and to maximise their ability to effectively compete for Victorian government procurement work.

The expansion of our project engagement with LJF projects has also afforded the OLJFC an opportunity to better promote and advocate for the Social Procurement Framework (SPF) directly with government agencies and contractors. The Office has heard first-hand about the social impact and value being created by the implementation of SPF by government agencies and contractors on the ground.

Advocacy for the Fair Jobs Code as part of the OLJFC project engagement program is expected to become more of a focus in the future, as more LJF projects come online to which it applies.

Beyond our strengthened project engagement, my engagement with industry stakeholders during the past year has included the facilitation of, or attendance at, sector specific forums, and speaking about Local Jobs First Policy and my role to government agencies and industry at various Department and external SME forums.

The team in the OLJFC has worked hard during the past year to further build on the achievements of the Office in its first 5 years, to strengthen and enhance the LJF Policy to secure local industry growth and growth in the participation of local workers, including apprentices, trainees, and cadets. This will help to build Victoria’s workforce and skills capability for the long term.

Through our enhanced strategic focus on LJF project engagement, education and compliance, the OLJFC is proactively supporting the delivery of successful LJF outcomes, and preventing and mitigating the risk of non-compliance across our expanding LJF project remit. In the process, the Office continues its work in enabling growth in the capability and resilience of local industry, delivering economic and social benefits for all Victorians.