A Labor push for measures to promote council apprenticeships was knocked back at Shellharbour City Council at Tuesday night's meeting.
Independents voting against the motion stated there wasn't a "one size fits all" solution to setting targets for councils in hiring cadets, apprentices and trainees (known as CAT).
Councillors were asked to put forward motions to be considered at the June National General Assembly of Local Government (NGA).
Only one motion - from Cr Rob Petreski - was tabled.
His two-part motion called for the NGA to address the national skills shortage by "increasing incentives and measures" for CAT employees, and to "set a minimum benchmark target for all council employees being cadets, apprentices, and trainees".
Cr Kellie Marsh moved a different motion, that council merely acknowledge receiving the report.
Speaking against Cr Petreski's motion, Cr Jacqui Graf noted the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) felt creating incentives for CAT employees without the inclusion of "mandatory hiring requirements".
"This would cater for the diverse sizes and capabilities of local governments across the nation and this is because the ALGA represents 537 councils across the country, which vary enormously in geographic area and population base," Cr Graf said.
Cr Petreski said he understood there was "a pushback" against mandating benchmark targets and foreshadowed a revised motion that removed the reference to setting benchmarks.
"I think that there is a place for them and I think that there are different categories," Cr Petreski said.
"Surely a large metro city council has a different employment capacity to a small rural or regional council - and it doesn't say that there has to be one benchmark target. You can have different targets for different settings."
He felt the national conference should be given a chance to consider his motion.
"We put forward some ideas that the collective wisdom of the conference considers and amends where possible and if suitable to what best suits their agenda," he said.
Cr John Davey was also opposed to mandating benchmarks, saying they "should not trump the financial Integrity of councils in formulating their workforce planning requirements".
He also noted he had supported the establishment of the council's own CAT program earlier this year and so voting against Cr Petreski's motion did not mean he did not support these programs.
Cr Petreski disagreed, claiming a vote against his motion meant councillors were "voting against supporting apprenticeships, traineeships and cadets".
Labor councillor Maree Duffy-Moon said it was important that council be seen as promoting the idea of getting more trainees and apprentices on board.
"We have a shortage of qualified, trained people," Cr Duffy-Moon said.
"We know it, we see it out there when we get complaints about lawn mowing or tree lopping ... and this is a way nationally, if we're going into another manufacturing era which I believe that we are, then this is the time to strike while the iron's hot."
Councillors voted 5-4 in favour of Cr Marsh's motion to note the report, which meant Cr Petreski's foreshadowed motion was not voted on.
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