Key findings

Most agencies continue to report that they intend to improve their workforce planning capability (including strengthening links to business planning) in the next two to three years. The need to do so is supported by the findings from the independent capability reviews of major agencies undertaken over the past 18 months. Importantly, these reviews found that the current challenge for many agencies is to implement agency-wide workforce planning approaches that focus on future delivery and have a direct line of sight to the agency's strategic vision, as well as other agency plans and strategies.

The greatest workforce risks over the next five years reported by agencies were the inability to address capability gaps due to a changing operating environment, limited career advancement or mobility opportunities for employees, and underdeveloped management or leadership capability among middle managers. Agencies reported that the two greatest challenges to identifying workforce risks were resources (time or cost in undertaking the task) and changes to funding and staffing. Similar to last year, agencies also identified difficulties in mapping current capabilities to predict future capability requirements.

The shape of the APS has changed since the early 1980s, with a shift in the classification profile towards higher classification levels. Given the shift in classifications structures over time, to determine the extent to which existing APS classification arrangements and work-level standards continue to meet the needs of APS agencies and employees, the APS Classification Review was completed by the Commission in 2013.

Agencies reported experiencing skill shortages in engineering and technical, ICT, and accounting and finance job families. This year, skill shortages in ICT, accounting and finance and people occupations were examined in more detail. Of the employees who identified they worked in these occupations, more than 40% indicated they intended to leave their agency within 12 months. This highlights a potential risk to occupational groups already under pressure within individual agencies. In relation to what was influencing the decision to leave, the highest proportion of employees reported a lack of future career opportunities in their agency as a reason.

The most effective strategies identified by agencies in addressing skills shortages were to invest in the learning and development of the existing workforce through participation in in-house and external programs and to improve retention or culture.