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4: Movement of Employees

Each year, there are large numbers of movements into and within the APS, many of which can be tracked using APSED data. 
During 2017–18, there were 21,357 movements, consisting of: 

  • 9,000 ongoing engagements
  • 8,623 promotions within agencies (to ongoing positions)
  • 941 promotions between agencies
  • 2,133 ongoing transfers (between APS agencies)
  • 660 temporary transfers (between APS agencies)

This equates to 15.7% of the APS workforce at 30 June 2018. The true mobility of the APS is higher, however, because it also includes movements (at-level) within a single agency, as well as secondments between agencies. Neither of these can be captured within the current APSED structure. 

In 2017–18, there were 9,000 ongoing engagements. This included 5,308 women (59%) which is consistent with their overall proportion across the APS. The number of engagements fell slightly from 9,131 in 2016-17; trends since 2001 have fluctuated from year to year ranging from 2,363 in 2014–15 to 20,949 in 2005–06 (APSED June 2018 Table 41).

Most engagements in 2017–18 were at the APS 3 (26.7%), APS 4 (16.8%) and APS 6 (13.3%) levels (APSED June 2018 Table 41).

Overall, 42.4% of ongoing engagements were under the age of 30 compared with just 12.6% of the workforce (APSED June 2018 Table 40).


In 2017–18 there were 10,042 ongoing separations. This included 5,669 women (57%) which is proportional to their representation in the APS. The number of separations has increased slightly from 9,753 in 2017-18. Unlike engagements, separations has remained relatively steady over time, generally fluctuating around the 10,000 figure (APSED June 2018 Table 57).

Resignations were the most common separation type in 2017–18. This has been the case historically since 2015. Resignations have risen as a proportion of all separations. Retrenchments continue to fall as a proportion of all retirements from a significant peak in the period between 2012 and 2015. Trend data indicates the close relationship between these two separation types. Age retirements decreased slightly but maintained an overall trend upwards (APSED June 2018 Table 59).

Separations by type June 2004 -2018

Source:  APSED June 2018 Table 56

Movements between agencies

As a whole, movements between agencies are a relatively small part of the mobility picture across the APS. In 2017–18, a total of 3,734 ongoing employees moved to another agency within the APS via promotion or transfer. This equates to 2.7% of ongoing employees. Over the past 20 years this rate has been quite stable, fluctuating between 1.9% and 3.6%.

Movements between agencies over the past 5 years indicate that, regardless of where an employee was working initially, they were most likely to move to a policy agency. Overall, 46% of moves between agencies involved a move to a policy agency, while just over a quarter (26%) of moves were into larger operational agencies. 

Transfers of ongoing employees: from and to other agencies by agency type, 2017-18

Source: APSED June 2018 Table 54.  

Multi-agency experience

Overall, the majority of APS employees have experience working in a single agency. At 30 June 2018, 72% of all APS employees had worked in a single agency, 18% in two and just 10% in three or more (APSED June 2018 Table 36). 

The proportion of APS employees with multi-agency experience varied based on some key demographics. For example, the overall proportion with multi-agency experience was higher than the 38% overall for those: 

  • In relatively senior roles, including SES at 62% and EL at 42%
  • Located in the ACT—44%
  • In micro agencies of 20 staff or fewer—67%
  • Working in policy agencies—50%.

The drivers behind these varied rates are related; for example, the location of most policy agencies within the ACT would affect the rates behind both location and agency type. Seniority is also linked to the time people have worked in the APS—and therefore the opportunity to work across multiple agencies. 

Last reviewed: 
28 September 2018