Appendix 1 - Workforce trends

Last updated: 18 Dec 2013

This page is: current

This appendix explores time series demographic and structural patterns for Australian Public Service (APS) employees—those employed under the Public Service Act 1999 (the Public Service Act)—at June 2013, and over the past 10 to 20 years. The main source of data for the appendix is the APS Employment Database (APSED), which the Australian Public Service Commission (the Commission) maintains.1 The appendix focuses on overall trends in employment, including size, employment status, sex, classification, workforce mobility, age and employee movements. The trends relating to equal employment opportunity groups, location and part-time employment are discussed in detail in Chapter 5, Chapter 7 and Chapter 9 respectively. Data in this appendix refers to the APS at 30 June 2013. Machinery-of-government changes after that date will be reflected in the State of the Service report for 2013–14.

From this year's analysis of employment trends, the typical APS employee is a 43 year-old female, with graduate qualifications, working at the APS 6 level. The typical new starter in the APS this year is a 33 year-old female, with graduate qualifications, engaged at the APS 3 level.

APS employment trends

At June 2013, there were 167,257 APS employees, a decrease of 907 or 0.5% from 168,164 employees at June 2012. In 2011–12, APS numbers increased by 1.2%. Excluding changes in the number of agencies covered by the Public Service Act, the agencies with the largest growth in 2012–13 were the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), which grew by 618 or 7.2%, Australian Taxation Office (ATO), which grew by 474 or 1.9%, and Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), which grew by 458 or 14.0%.

Two agencies had large proportional increases in total employees: the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, which grew by 274 or 415.2% (almost exclusively due to non-ongoing employees moving into coverage of the Public Service Act), and Office of Parliamentary Counsel, which grew by 70 or 137.3% (mostly due to employees in the Office of Legislative Drafting and Publication moving from the Attorney-General's Department).

The largest decrease in total APS employee numbers was in the Department of Defence (Defence) (1,255 or 5.4%). This was related to a number of workforce and functional efficiency reforms.

Coverage changes

During 2012–13, there were a number of coverage changes as agencies were established or abolished.

Agencies established

Three agencies were established during the year:

  • Australian Renewable Energy Agency, with movement of employees from Australian Solar Institute Limited
  • Telecommunications Universal Service Management Agency, established as a new Statutory Authority
  • Climate Change Authority, with movement of employees from the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

Agencies abolished

Three agencies were abolished during the year:

  • Wheat Exports Australia
  • National Native Title Tribunal, with employees transferred to the Federal Court of Australia
  • Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, with employees transferred to the Climate Change Authority, the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE) and the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism.

APS employees

Figure A1.1 shows the change in total APS employee numbers for the past 20 years. The adjusted line takes account of coverage changes in the APS during each year, by adjusting total APS employee numbers by the number of employees performing those functions as the function moved into or out of coverage of the Public Service Act. Taking into consideration the coverage changes for 2012–13, there was a decrease in APS employees of 0.5%.

Figure A1.1 APS employees, 1994 to 2013

Figure A1.1 is a line graph showing the total number of APS employees between 1994 and 2013. Over the 20 year period, the number of employees fell from 165,000 to the lowest point of 118,000 in 1999. From 2000, APS employee numbers rose steadily with the highest point in 2012 (168,214). The number of APS employees at 30 June 2013 was 167,257 which was a reduction of 907 from last year.

Source: APSED

Ongoing and non-ongoing employees

The decrease in employment this year was due mostly to a decrease in ongoing employment, partially offset by an increase in non-ongoing employment, in both the number and proportion of total employment.

Ongoing employment

At June 2013, there were 152,230 ongoing employees in the APS, a decrease of 1,988 or 1.3% on the previous year. This was the first decrease experienced in ongoing APS employees since 1999. The largest increases in ongoing employment were in DIICCSRTE (464 or 10.9%), as a result of machinery-of-government changes, FaHCSIA (316 or 10.3%), due to the establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and DIAC (552 or 7.1%). Smaller agencies with large proportional increases in ongoing employment were the National Health Performance Authority (21 or 161.5%), Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (25 or 131.6%) and Office of Parliamentary Counsel (61 or 119.6%).

The largest decreases in ongoing employment were in the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC) (172 or 6.9%), Department
of Human Services (DHS) (1,542 or 4.4%), Defence (927 or 4.1%) and ATO (316 or 1.4%).

Non-ongoing employment

The number of non-ongoing employees increased this year to 15,027 at June 2013—an increase of 1,081 or 7.8%. This is similar to the increase in non-ongoing employment of 9.0% in the previous year. At June 2013, non-ongoing employees accounted for 9.0% of total employment.

Non-ongoing employees can be engaged in three categories: specified term, specified task, and irregular or intermittent duties. At June 2013, 44.9% were engaged for a specified term, 3.6% for a specified task and 51.4% for irregular or intermittent duties. There is considerable variation in agencies' use of these categories.

More than one-third of agencies engaged all non-ongoing employees as specified term, including Defence Housing Australia, Australian Financial Security Authority and ComSuper. In contrast, the agencies that engaged most non-ongoing employees for irregular or intermittent duties included the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) (97.5% of non-ongoing workforce) and Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) (95.9% of non-ongoing workforce).

Each year sees large shifts in the use of non-ongoing employment in individual agencies, suggesting agencies are using non-ongoing employment to respond to peaks in workforce demand and the need for specialised skills for specific periods. Smaller agencies are more likely to rely on the use of non-ongoing employees. At June 2013, 18 agencies had at least one-quarter of employees engaged on a non-ongoing basis—one of these was a large agency (AEC), 11 were small agencies and the rest medium-sized agencies.

Figure A1.2 shows how non-ongoing employment has changed in the APS as a proportion of total employment over the past 15 years. Between 1999 and 2004, there was a steady decline in non-ongoing employment. Since then, the proportion has stabilised at around 8.0%, increasing to 9.0% at June 2013. The proportion of women in non-ongoing employment was consistently higher than for men over this period, although the gap between women and men narrowed in the five years to June 2011. At June 2013, women made up 61.5% of non-ongoing employees, compared with 57.5% of ongoing employees.

Figure A1.2 Non-ongoing employees as a proportion of total employees, 1999 to 2013

Figure A1.2 is a line graph showing that between 1999 and 2004 there was a decline in non-ongoing employees, both men and women. This stabilised at around 8% for women and 6% for men from 2004. Since 2011 the proportion of non-ongoing employees increased slightly for both women and men.

Source: APSED

This year, the largest increases in non-ongoing employment were in the ATO (790 or a 32.2% increase), DHS (479 or 32.2%), AEC (384 or 30.3%), and FaHCSIA (142 or 72.8%). ASADA also had a large increase in non-ongoing employment (from 5 to 272) due to employees moving into coverage of the Public Service Act. The largest decreases in non-ongoing employment were in Defence (328 or 65.7%), Australian Bureau of Statistics (252 or 52.5%), SEWPaC (160 or 32.7%) and Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (71 or 48.3%).

Agencies with the largest number of non-ongoing employees at June 2013 were the ATO (3,245 or 13.0%), DHS (1,965 or 5.5%) and AEC (1,653 or 66.3%).

Figure A1.3 shows the classification profile of non-ongoing employees is concentrated at lower levels. At June 2013, 62.1% of APS 1–2 employees were non-ongoing, compared with only 3.5% of Executive Level (EL) employees and 2.7% of Senior Executive Service (SES) employees. In contrast, 7.4% of SES Band 3 employees were non-ongoing.

Figure A1.3 Non-ongoing employees as a proportion of total employees by classification, June 2013

Figure A1.3 is a bar chart showing the majority of non-ongoing employees were at the lower APS classification levels, particularly APS 1 (86%) and APS 2 (39%). From APS 4 to SES Band 2 classifications less than 5% were non-ongoing. At SES Band 3 where over 7% of employees were non-ongoing.

Source: APSED

In addition to a concentration of non-ongoing employees at lower classifications, this group of employees is also younger. At June 2013, 20.6% of non-ongoing employees were less than 25 years of age, compared with only 3.1% of ongoing employees.

Workforce availability

Workforce availability refers to the number of employees available with the necessary skills.
At any point, ongoing employees may be absent from the workforce for varying periods, either paid or unpaid, and for various reasons. When an ongoing employee has been absent from the workplace for 90 or more continuous days, they are considered inoperative.

The types of leave that are included for identifying inoperative status of an employee are:

  • a mandatory grant of leave without pay as prescribed by the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2013, Clause 7.42
  • discretionary leave without pay
  • compensation leave
  • maternity leave.

At June 2013, 6,459 ongoing employees (850 men and 5,609 women), or 4.2% of the workforce had a status of inoperative. Of women with a status of inoperative, 4,034 (71.9%) were on maternity related leave.

Of agencies with at least 1,000 ongoing employees, those with the largest proportion of inoperative employees at June 2013 were the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (174 or 5.3%), Department of the Treasury (67 or 5.3%), and Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) (76 or 4.7%). Agencies with at least 1,000 ongoing employees with the largest proportion of women on maternity leave at June 2013 were the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (74 or 7.3% of ongoing women), AusAID (64 or 6.2%) and DHS (1,471 or 6.1%).

Male and female employment

The number of women in the APS decreased by 0.1% (96,880 to 96,769), while the number of men decreased by 1.1% (71,284 to 70,488). Women accounted for the majority of APS employees—57.5% of ongoing employment and 57.9% of total employment at June 2013. Trends for total employment by sex are shown in Figure A1.4.

Figure A1.4 Total employees by sex, 1999 to 2013

Figure A1.4 is a line graph showing that the representation of women and men has steadily risen over the 15 year period. At June 2013, there were 96,769 women and 70,488 men.

Source: APSED

The representation of men and women varies considerably among agencies. Of agencies with at least 1,000 ongoing employees, DHS had the highest proportion of ongoing women (71.7%), followed by Department of Health and Ageing (70.1%). Large agencies with the highest proportion of men were the Bureau of Meteorology (72.6%) and Defence (59.4%).

Table A1.1 Ongoing employees by base classification, 1999, 2012 and 2013
Classification199920122013% change 2012 to 2013% change 1999 to 2013
Source: APSED
APS 13,8373.88630.67760.5-10.1-79.8
APS 29,3879.23,5452.33,2822.2-7.4-65.0
APS 313,83813.618,28511.917,38311.4-4.925.6
APS 423,78023.330,60219.830,62320.10.128.8
APS 511,25511.021,51014.021,32514.0-0.989.5
APS 618,60718.232,86721.332,83721.6-0.176.5
EL 111,24511.028,80018.728,63418.8-0.6154.6
EL 27,4767.313,2018.613,0878.6-0.975.1
SES 11,1911.22,0561.32,0291.3-1.370.4
SES 23280.35810.45810.40.077.1
SES 3980.11320.11260.1-4.528.6

Classification structures

To allow comparisons over time, this analysis used substantive or base classification, excluding employees on temporary assignment at a classification different to their base classification. Temporary assignment is discussed in detail later in this section.

Table A1.1 compares ongoing employee numbers by classification at June 1999, 2012 and 2013. As can be seen, with the exception of APS 4 and SES 2, the number of employees in all classifications decreased. The number of ongoing employees employed at the graduate APS classification also decreased, by 185 or 12.8%. The classification with the greatest percentage decrease was the trainee classification, with a decrease of 44 or 13.3%. Agencies that accounted for the greatest employment of trainees included DHS (151 or 52.8%), Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) (35 or 12.2%), Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (30 or 10.5%) and Defence (24 or 8.4%). The agencies that accounted for most employment at the graduate APS classification were the ATO (230 or 18.2%), Defence (130 or 10.3%), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (88 or 7.0%), Department of Health and Ageing (79 or 6.3%) and AusAID (72 or 5.7%). Some agencies engage trainees and graduates at the APS 1–2 and APS 3–4 levels respectively rather than in trainee or graduate classifications, so variations over time may not necessarily reflect agency use of trainees or graduates more broadly.

In recent years, the strongest growth in ongoing employment was in the EL classifications. This year, however, the number of EL 1 employees decreased by 0.6% and the number of EL 2 by 0.9%. This compares to the decrease of 1.3% for all ongoing employees. The number of ongoing SES also decreased, by 33 or 1.2%. The APS 6 classification is the largest in the APS, with 21.6% of all ongoing employees.

Over the past 15 years, the classification profile of the APS has seen a consistent and strong shift, with a decline in the proportion of employees at APS 1–2 levels (down 10.3 percentage points), and increases at EL levels (up by 9.1 percentage points) and APS 5–6 levels (up by 6.3 percentage points). As a proportion of all ongoing employees, the SES increased from 1.6% at June 1999 to 1.8% at June 2013.

One measure of a shifting classification profile is change over time in the ratio of EL 2 employees to those at lower classifications—trainees and graduates, APS 1–6 and EL 1.
Over the past 15 years, the ratio fell from 12.4 employees at lower classifications for each EL 2 to 10.4. As expected, the ratio among agencies varies considerably based on the type of work.
At June 2013, in agencies with at least 1,000 ongoing employees, the ratio varied from a median of 2.7 in agencies with a primary function of regulatory to 16.4 in agencies with a primary function of specialist. Policy agencies had a median of 6.2 while larger operational
had a median of 15.9.3

This trend towards a higher classification profile at least partly reflects the changing nature of APS employment, with a more skilled workforce undertaking increasingly complex and difficult roles, as well as outsourcing a number of less complex functions over time.

Temporary assignment

At June 2013, 14,732 (9.7%) of all ongoing employees were on temporary assignment, usually at a higher classification. Of this group, APS 6 (27.0%) represented the highest proportion, followed by EL 1 (23.0%) and APS 5 (22.6%). Data on temporary assignment was not collected 15 years ago; however, analysis of data over the past 10 years shows that at any point around 10% of employees were on temporary assignment.

As most employees on temporary assignment are performing duties at a higher classification, including temporary assignment in any analysis of classification would skew the profile slightly away from lower classifications and towards higher classifications. For example, using base classification, 4,058 employees were at APS 1–2 levels (2.7% of all ongoing employees), but this declined to 3,617 (2.4% of all ongoing employees) when temporary assignment was included. Similarly, the size of the SES increased from 2,736 (1.8% of all ongoing employees) to 3,144 (2.1%) when temporary assignment was included.

Women are more likely than men to be on temporary assignment—61.5% of ongoing employees on temporary assignment at June 2013 were women, compared with the overall representation of 57.5%.

Educational qualifications

APSED data, while incomplete, shows that 59.5% of ongoing employees have graduate qualifications, up from 58.8% last year.4 The proportion is higher for men than for women (63.9% compared with 55.9%). As of 1 July 2013, a new clause in the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2013 requires agency heads to ensure measures are put in place to collect certain personal information from each employee and provide this information to the Commissioner. This requirement includes educational qualifications and diversity information of employees.

Over time, the proportion of APS employees with graduate qualifications has steadily increased. During 2012–13, 71.6% of those engaged had graduate qualifications. This was a decrease on the previous year (73.5%), but considerably higher than the proportion 15 years ago (64.7% in 1998–99).

Workforce mobility

Workforce mobility ensures that people can readily move across the APS and, in doing so, help build a richer base of skills, ideas and experience at all levels. Workforce mobility also enables employees to be easily deployed to meet shifting priorities across the APS.

Mobility within the APS

Figure A1.5 shows how mobility between agencies has varied over the past 15 years, with periods of decline, stability and growth.5 During 2012–13, the overall mobility rate (1.4%) continued to fall after a sharp rise in the year 2010–11—the promotion rate was 0.4% and transfer rate 0.9%. The promotion rate dropped slightly from the previous year, while the transfer rate dropped even further. In 2013 the total mobility rate—including promotions
and transfers—dropped to its lowest level in the 15 years shown in Figure A1.5.

Figure A1.5 Ongoing employees—promotion and transfer rates between agencies, 1999 to 2013

Figure A1.5 is a line graph showing that over the last 15 years, both promotion and transfer rates followed the same trend of decline or growth. In 2012–13, the transfer rate of 0.9% was more than double the promotion rate of 0.4%.

Source: APSED

Mobility has consistently been higher for women than for men. During 2012–13, the mobility rate was 1.4% for women and 1.3% for men (down from 2.5% and 2.3% respectively during 2011–12).

In general, mobility between agencies is higher at higher classifications, particularly so for women in the SES with a mobility rate of 5.4%. The mobility rate for SES was 3.9%, down from 5.6% the previous year. Mobility for ELs was 2.1% (down from 3.8% in 2011–12) and 1.0% for APS 1–6 (down from 1.8% in 2011–12).

Experience across agencies6

A number of reports have noted the importance of ensuring depth of experience and exposure to diverse work experiences, including exposure to policy development and service delivery roles for all classifications, particularly the SES.7

One way to measure breadth of experience is by looking at the number of agencies APS employees have worked in. Table A1.2 shows this by classification group at June 2013 and compares it with data for June 1999. The table shows a decline in the number of agencies worked in for all classification groups in the past 15 years. However, when compared with the overall trend of the past 15 years—not shown in the table—the total percentages for 2013 for the number of agencies worked in is consistent with the 15-year average.

As expected, the number of agencies worked in increases at higher classification levels, similar to mobility between agencies. Of the current SES employees, 37.8% worked in only one agency compared with 59.5% of EL and 80.4% of APS 1–6. Of the current SES employees, 21.6% worked in four or more agencies, compared with 7.8% of EL and 1.8% of APS 1–6.

Table A1.2 Ongoing employees—number of agencies worked in, 1999 and 2013
ClassificationOne agency2–3 agencies4 or more agencies
1999 %2013 %1999 %2013 %1999 %2013 %
Source: APSED
APS 1–671.680.425.

Length of service

The median length of service for ongoing employees in the APS at June 2013 was 9.0 years, up from 8.8 years at June 2012.

Figure A1.6 shows that the proportion of ongoing employees with less than five years of service dropped, reflecting the lower number of engagements of new employees over the past few years. At June 2013, 24.1% of employees were in this group, compared with around 35% for much of the past decade. The proportion with 30 or more years of service was 5.2% at June 2013, an increase from 4.7% from last year.

Figure A1.6 Ongoing employees—length of service, 1999 to 2013

Figure A1.6 is a line graph showing that between 1999 and 2013 employees with less than 5 years' service have decreased since 2009 (from 36% to 24%), while those with from 5–10 and 10–15 years' service have increased by 6% and 8% respectively. Over the 15 year period the proportion of those with 20 years or more service remained steady.

Source: APSED

Length at level

The median length at level for all ongoing employees was 5.0 years at June 2013, up from 4.5 years at June 2012. Fifteen years ago the median was 3.4 years for all ongoing employees.8

For the SES, the median length at level was 5.0 years at June 2013, up from 4.7 years in 1999. For ELs, it was 5.2 years, up from 4.9 years in 1999.

Re-engagement and prior service in the APS

Of the 7,655 ongoing engagements during 2012–13, 1,066 (12.8%) previously worked in the APS as ongoing employees. At the APS 1–6 level, 12.7% of engagements had prior service as did 33.7% of engaged EL 1–2 and 31.7% of engaged SES. Of ongoing engagements with prior service, 22.4% (239) were re-engaged by the agency in which they previously worked. The median length of service prior to re-engagement was 5.5 years.

A total of 3,093 ongoing engagements (40.4%) had previously worked as non-ongoing employees in the APS. Of these, 2,452 (79.3%) were engaged by the same agency in which they had been employed previously. This demonstrates that non-ongoing employment continues to be a major entry point into the APS. The median length of service as a non-ongoing employee prior to engagement as an ongoing employee during 2012–13 was 1.2 years. A total of 3,557 (46.5% of all ongoing engagements) had some experience in the APS—ongoing, non-ongoing or both.

Of the 15,027 non-ongoing employees at June 2013, 2,468 or 16.4% previously worked in the APS as ongoing employees. The proportion with this prior experience increased with level from APS 3 to EL 1, where 42.7% of non-ongoing employees previously worked as ongoing employees. For non-ongoing SES, the proportion was 40.3%. Previous ongoing experience was also relatively high among older non-ongoing employees—41.9% of those in the 55 to 59 year age group and 36.4% of those in the 60 years of age and older group.

APS workforce age profile

At June 2013, the mean age of ongoing employees in the APS was 42.7 years (43.8 for men and 41.8 for women). In 1999, the mean age was 40.2 years.

The largest group is between 50 and 54 years of age (15.1% in 2013, an increase from 14.8% in 2012); however, there was an increase in representation again this year in the 60 years and over age group, which increased from 5.6% of all ongoing employees at June 2012 to 5.9% at June 2013.

Representation of young people (less than 25 years of age) fell again this year. At June 2013, 3.1% of all ongoing employees were in this age group, down from 3.6% last year. This has been a consistent and steady trend—at June 1999, young people accounted for 4.1% of all ongoing employees. The number of employees less than 20 years of age fell, from 228 at June 2012 to 188 at June 2013, and the number in the 20 to 24 year age group dropped as well.

The 60 and over age group had the largest growth (4.3%) in ongoing employment this year.
The next highest growth rates were with the 55 to 59 year age group, increasing by 2.7%, and the 50 to 54 year age group, increasing by 0.5%. The proportion of employees 55 years of age and over has grown strongly over time, increasing from 6.3% of all ongoing employees at June 1999 to 15.4% at June 2013. This strong growth reflects the impact of government policies to encourage older employees to remain in the APS or return after taking early retirement. It also reflects the removal of compulsory age-65 retirement in 1999, which has facilitated increased recruitment of older employees and reduced separation rates.

Figure A1.7 shows the shifting age profile of the APS, with an increased representation of older employees coinciding with a decrease in younger employees. This figure shows that the 55 and over age group increased by 9.1 percentage points from 1999 and the 35 to 44 year age group decreased by 5.8 percentage points.

Figure A1.7 Ongoing employees—change in proportion by age group, 1999 to 2013

Figure A1.7 is a bar chart showing that over the past 15 years the 35–44 age group had the largest decrease of almost 6 percentage points, while the 55 years and over age group had the largest increase of 9 percentage points. Both under 25 and 25–34 age groups also decreased by 1 and 2.5 percentage points respectively.

Source: APSED

Agency age profiles vary substantially. Of the agencies with at least 1,000 ongoing employees at June 2013, the Department of Veterans' Affairs and Bureau of Meteorology had the oldest age profiles, with 59.0% and 53.1% aged 45 years and over, respectively. In contrast, AusAID (25.7%) and Attorney-General's Department (27.2%) had the lowest proportion of employees 45 years of age and over.

The APS has a more middle-aged age profile than does the Australian labour force (Figure A1.8).

Figure A1.8 Age profile of ongoing APS employees and Australian labour force, June 2013

Figure A1.8 is a bar chart showing that the Australian labour force has a higher proportion of employees in the under 25 and 55 and over age groups than the APS. The APS had higher proportions than the Australian labour force in the 25–34, 35–44 and 45–54 age groups.

Source: APSED, Australian Bureau of Statistics


The location of the APS workforce is discussed in detail in Chapter 7. In summary, around 40% of APS employees (40.3% of ongoing and 39.1% of all) are located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). This proportion has risen steadily for many years although there was a slight decrease in 2013 from the previous year. In 1999, for example, 37.1% of ongoing employees were based in the ACT.

Generally, the proportion of employees located in the ACT increases at higher classifications. For example, at June 2013, 61.5% of all ongoing EL employees and 75.8% of all ongoing SES were in the ACT, compared with 21.3% of APS 1–2 and 17.2% of APS 3–4. Table A1.3 shows the classification profile, by location, for ongoing employees at June 2013.

Table A1.3 Ongoing employees—proportion by classification and location, June 2013
 ACT %NSW %Vic %Qld %SA %WA %Tas %NT %Overseas %All %
Source: APSED
APS 1–221.325.418.
APS 3–417.226.721.
APS 5–643.416.315.410.
Trainee and graduate62.

Although the APS is centred in the ACT, there is considerable variation among agencies in the level of employment inside and outside of the ACT. At June 2013, 26 out of 104 agencies had all of their ongoing employees in the ACT, 16 had none and 26 had less than one-third.
The large agencies with less than one-third in the ACT are ACBPS (32.1%), Department of Veterans' Affairs (31.5%), DHS (15.0%), ATO (14.3%), Bureau of Meteorology (5.1%), and Australian Securities and Investments Commission (0.8%).

Engagements and separations

During 2012–13, there were 7,655 engagements and 9,593 separations of ongoing employees. The number of engagements included 12 ongoing employees who moved into coverage of the Public Service Act. Engagements decreased by 32.2% from the previous year and separations decreased by 7.2%. Figure A1.9 shows ongoing engagements and separations as a proportion of all ongoing employees for the past 15 years. It indicates that the separation rate was relatively steady for the past 12 years.

Figure A1.9 Ongoing engagement and separation rates, 1999 to 2013

Figure A1.9 is a line graph showing that for the past 15 years the number of engagements has decreased to 5% in 2013 after reaching its peak of 16% in 2006. The separation rate has remained relatively steady after a sharp decline from 14% in 1999 to 6% in 2004. In 2012–13 the separation rate was 6.3%.

Source: APSED


During 2012–13, the number of ongoing engagements decreased by 32.2%, after decreasing by 12.1% in 2011–12. This year saw decreases in the number of engagements across all classifications. Compared to 2011–12, engagements of SES fell 31.8%, EL fell 32.1%, APS 5–6 fell 41.3% and graduates fell 15.7%.

Figure A1.10 shows the strongest growth, as a proportion of all ongoing employees, was at trainee and graduate (3.5%) and APS 3–4 classifications (0.5%). The greatest decrease was at APS 5–6 classification.

Figure A1.10 Proportion of engagements of ongoing employees by classification, 1998–99 to 2012–13

Figure A1.10 is a line graph showing that for the past 15 years the proportion of engagements of APS 1–2 and APS 3–4 decreased while the proportion of engagements of trainee and graduate, APS 5–6, EL and SES increased.

Source: APSED

Women accounted for 57.0% of all ongoing engagements during 2012–13, compared with 57.5% of all ongoing employees at June 2013.

Figure A1.11 shows that the representation of ongoing engagements fell in the 35 to 44 and 45 to 54 age groups. The 55 years and over age group decreased by 195 employees but remained the same in proportional terms after their proportion increased in 2011–12 by 0.3 percentage points. Over the past 15 years, this age group increased from 2.1% of all ongoing engagements to 5.4% in 2012–13. The mean age of engagements in 2012–13 was 33.5 years of age (34.2 years for men and 33.0 years for women).

Figure A1.11 Engagements of ongoing employees by age group, 1998–99 to 2012–13

Figure A1.11 is a line graph showing that for the past 15 years engagements remained steady in the under 25 and 45–55 years groups, while the 25–34 and 55 years and over groups increased slightly and the 35–44 years group decreased from 26% to 20%.

Source: APSED

Defence (886 or 11.6%), DHS (646 or 8.4%) and ATO (760 or 9.9%) accounted for 29.9% of all engagements during 2012–13. These agencies also accounted for 50.9% of all ongoing employees.

Mobility between the APS and broader labour market can be gauged by measuring the proportion of external engagements (from outside the APS) as a proportion of total engagements and promotions. During 2012–13, 48.5% of APS employment outcomes published in the APS Employment Gazette were filled through engagements. This is an increase from the previous year (42.1%). Of gazetted SES employment outcomes, 19.0% were filled by engagement—the same as the previous year. APSED data shows promotions within an agency accounted for 92.2% of all APS promotions, consistent with 2011–12.


There were 9,593 separations of ongoing employees during 2012–13, a decrease of 7.2% on the 10,341 separations the previous year. The overall separation rate from the APS was 6.3%, down from 6.7% during 2011–12.

Women accounted for 53.9% of all ongoing separations from the APS during 2012–13, down from 56.2% the previous year, and lower than their overall representation in the APS (57.5% of ongoing employees at June 2013).

In 2012–13, resignations accounted for 46.3% of all separations during the year, but fell in proportional terms from the previous year. Retrenchments accounted for 27.9% of all separations and increased in proportional terms from 2011–12, while age retirements accounted for 19.8% of all separations, an increase in proportional terms from last year.
The number of terminations fell by 2.7%, from 186 to 181.

Natural attrition includes resignations and age retirements and excludes all other separation types, including retrenchments, invalidity retirement, deaths and termination of appointment. Figure A1.12 shows the natural attrition rate for the APS in 2012–13 was 4.1%, down from 4.9% in 2011–12 and 5.2% in 2010–11.

Figure A1.12 Rate of attrition, 1999–2000 to 2012–13

Figure A1.12 is a line graph showing that since 2000 the natural attrition rate was just under 5%, rose to 7% in 2008, and declined to 4% in 2013. For other separations the rate was at its highest of 6% in 2000, dropped to below 1% in 2007 and rose to 2% in 2013.

Source: APSED

The agencies with the largest number of ongoing separations from the APS during the year were DHS (2,033 or 21.2%), Defence (1,709 or 17.8%) and the ATO (1,064 or 11.1%). These three agencies accounted for 50.1% of all ongoing separations. Combined they employ 50.9% of ongoing APS employees.

From an agency perspective, the separation rate includes the total loss of employees from the agency, including transfers and promotions to other APS agencies, otherwise known as the agency exit rate. Of agencies with 1,000 or more ongoing employees at June 2013, those with the highest exit rates were the Department of Finance and Deregulation (15.1%), Attorney-General's Department (14.6%), SEWPaC (13.0%) and Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (10.8%).

Recruitment performance measures

In 2012–13, APS agencies measured performance for non-SES recruitment in various ways. Figure A1.13 shows the most common methods were time-to-fill statistics (75%), advertising effectiveness (70%), feedback from line areas and management on the recruitment process (62%), and feedback from selection advisory committees (57%). Eight per cent of agencies reported they did not measure non-SES recruitment performance.

Figure A1.13 Methods used to measure non-SES recruitment performance, 2012–13

Figure A1.13 is a bar chart showing of the 15 methods used by agencies in 2012–13, the most commonly used were time-to-fill statistics, advertising effectiveness and feedback from line areas and management. The least commonly used methods were reviews of the performance of external service providers, assessment of the performance of new recruits and statistics on reviews against recruitment decisions.

Source: Agency survey


Seventy-five per cent of agencies nominated time-to-fill statistics as a measure used to gauge recruitment performance. Figure A1.14 shows the median number of working days from advertising to gazettal for SES and non-SES employees. Time-to-fill information has been extracted from the APSjobs database and includes the time taken from advertising a vacancy to the formal gazettal of the outcome.

Figure A1.14 Median working days from advertising to gazettal, 2007 to 2013

Figure A1.14 is a line graph showing that the median working days for advertising to gazettal over the past 7 years ranged from 88 to 100 days for SES and 70 to 85 days for non-SES employees.

Source: APS Jobs

Effectiveness of recruitment

One measure of APS recruitment effectiveness is the number of employees who leave their agency within 12 months of engagement. Of the employees engaged in 2012–13, 1,089 employees (9.6%) left their agency within 12 months of engagement—an improvement on 11.1% in the previous year. Figure A1.15 shows the trends in separations within the first year of employment over time.

Figure A1.15 Separation rates for employees with less than 1 year of service, 2004 to 2013

Figure A1.15 is a line graph showing that for the past 10 years the proportion of employees who left APS within one year (between 8% to 13%) was higher than those who left their agency to work in another agency within one year (between 1% to 3%). The separation rate for 2013 for employees who left APS within one year was 10%, and 1% for employees who left their agency within one year.

Source: APSED


1 The Commission makes every effort to ensure the integrity of APSED data, but it is not responsible for inaccuracies in the data agencies provide. The Commission undertakes extensive audits of the data and, as a result, some errors in historical data have been corrected. For this reason, caution should be exercised when comparing data presented in this report with that from earlier years.
Most significantly, previously published data on employee numbers may have been revised, and therefore may not be directly comparable. Due to different data sources and definitions, there may be variations between the data published here and that published by individual agencies. For further information on the size and composition of the APS, including definitions, see the Australian Public Service Statistical Bulletin 2012–13.

2 Clause 7.4 covers matters relating to leave without pay and provides that an agency head must grant leave without pay to an ongoing APS employee who applies for the leave to undertake or continue employment for the purposes of Section 13 of the Governor-General Act 1974 or for the purposes of sections 13 or 20 of the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984.

3 Agencies are grouped into five categories: larger operational, smaller operational, policy, specialist and regulatory. See Appendix 2 for a breakdown of functional cluster by agency and Appendix 3 for more information on clustering of agencies by primary function for benchmarking purposes.

4 The method used to calculate the proportion of employees with graduate qualifications includes those with qualifications at bachelor degree and above. It excludes from the denominator those for whom no data was provided by agencies, and those who chose not to provide details for their highest qualification. At June 2013, 45.3% of ongoing employees had no educational qualification data on APSED.

5 Mobility rates are calculated as the number of promotions or ongoing transfers between agencies during the financial year, divided by the average number of employees at the beginning and end of the financial year. Movements due to machinery-of-government changes are not included in the calculation.

6 Only promotions and transfers between agencies are included in this analysis. Moves due to machinery-of-government changes are excluded.

7 For example: Advisory Group on Reform of Australian Government Administration, Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for the Reform of Australian Government Administration, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, (2010).

8 Median length at level includes prior ongoing and non-ongoing service at the same level undertaken before the current period of employment. Periods of temporary assignment are excluded.