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Learning and development

This page explores learning and development in the APS.

On this page:

The importance of employee development

In the APS, employee development is an important contributor to a productive, progressive, innovative and engaged workforce. Developing the skills of people helps the APS to perform its role of supporting government and citizens to a high standard.

Development of APS employees is not confined to the classroom. Development can happen anywhere, at any time. The APS has adopted the principles of the 70-20-10 model of learning, which reflects that the majority of learning takes place on the job (i.e. 70 per cent), a portion takes place through peer-based learning (20 per cent), and a smaller portion takes place in the classroom (10 per cent).

Development is a shared responsibility

Learning and development is a shared responsibility. Employees, managers, agencies and the APSC each play a role ensuring the APS has the capabilities required to meet expectations:

  • Employees take responsibility for their own learning, recognise areas for development and consciously apply new approaches in their workplace.
  • Managers model commitment to continual learning and encourage their teams to engage in ongoing development, practice reflection, and strive for continuous improvement.
  • Agencies identify common learning needs and actively encourage employees to participate in development opportunities.
  • The APSC works with agencies to develop and deliver employee development activities that support the delivery of government priorities.

APS development priorities

The APS collectively determined the development priorities as part of the Learning and development strategy.

APS development priorities are taken from this strategy and respond to changes in the APS operating environment. Priorities for 2015-16 are:

  • Leadership and talent development
    • SES leadership and talent development
    • Executive level  leadership development
    • Early career talent development
  • Management expertise
    • Financial management and budgeting
    • Program and project management
    • Policy development and implementation
    • Regulatory frameworks and practices
    • Business planning
  • Core skills
    • APS people management
    • APS procurement essentials
    • APS contract management
    • Policy development and implementation
    • Regulation

Emerging priorities include skills to support the government push to reduce red tape and use opportunities provided by big data and digital. See the The Australian Public Service Big Data Strategy [external link]

Development priorities at the agency level are set internally.

The role of the Centre for Leadership and Learning

The strategy and associated development activities are managed by the APS Centre for Leadership and Learning on behalf of the APS. In addition to managing the strategy, the Centre:

Research and publications

The APS Centre for Leadership and Learning improves talent management and expands and strengthens learning and development across the APS. Part of its role is to undertake or commission contemporary research on aspects of leadership, learning and development. The Centre also publishes guides for APS learning and development practitioners, managers and employees. These are designed to complement efforts to build leadership, learning and development practice in the APS.

Current publications are:

Stakeholders are encouraged to provide feedback and suggestions on these publications by contacting us.

Evaluating learning and development

Evaluation is an important tool for improving the design and implementation of learning and development programs. It also demonstrates the impact learning activities have on skills and capability improvement.

The Centre for Leadership and Learning uses an evaluation framework to capture results of the learning activities it delivers. This framework covers all course-based programs, as well as immersive programs such as secondments.

Evaluation of individual programs is customised to suit each program. Evaluation is on program-specific learning objectives as well as other metrics of behaviour shifts, program implementation, value and relevance. A combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches is used.  Evaluation data analysis is used to continuously improve learning and development programs.

An evaluation of activities conducted during the first four years of the Centre's operation found:

  • Capability improvement, program value and relevance for SES talent and leadership development participants was consistently reported.
  • The value of experiential and immersive programs as a way of building workplace capabilities was reinforcement.
  • 'Talent' should be about more than just a development program.
  • The effectiveness of immersive and staged-participation as a learning method for leadership development programs (with an emphasis on practical application of new skills in the workplace) was consistently reported.
  • Contemporary leadership practices such as adaptive leadership and immunity to change were considered of high-value.
  • Core Skills programs delivered modest to very strong capability improvements for participants and were considered generally high-value and relevant.
  • Core Skills programs that are relevant to workforce needs (e.g. change of skills) experienced very good agency take-up.
  • Delivery-ready programs and access to quality-assured providers received positive responses.

Examples of evaluation results are available on learning and development program information pages.