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Workforce risks

A number of workforce risks identified by agencies are contingent on employee intentions to stay at their agency or seek other opportunities in the APS, the private sector or elsewhere.

In the 2013 APS employee census (employee census), employees were asked about their intention to stay at their current agency. Nineteen per cent indicated they intended to leave their agency as soon as possible or in the next 12 months. These employees were also asked to indicate where they intend to be working in the next 12 months. Fifty-four per cent indicated they intend to work for another APS or Commonwealth agency, 13% indicated in the private sector and 10% indicated they would be either retired or not in the labour force.

Fifty per cent of these employees indicated a lack of career opportunities in their current agency was a reason they intended to leave. Interestingly, ‘limited career advancement or mobility opportunities for employees’ and ‘retaining appropriately skilled employees’ were assessed as key workforce risks by 52% and 34% of agencies respectively.7

Although agencies have identified workforce risks, and these risks seem to be consistent with employee intentions, a substantial number of agencies reported challenges in addressing these

risks through workforce planning. Table 6.2 shows that the two greatest challenges reported by agencies in implementing or progressing workforce planning were resources (time or cost in undertaking the task) and changes to funding and staffing.

Consistent with last year, 26% of agencies identified difficulties in mapping current capabilities to predict future capability requirements as a key challenge. Additionally, there was an eight percentage point increase from 2011–12 to 2012–13 in the proportion of agencies experiencing difficulties related to uncertainty about the future. These results provide further evidence of the lack of maturity in current agency workforce plans in that the forecasting and scenario building aspects of these plans are the least developed across the APS.

Table 6.2 Challenges facing APS agencies in implementing and/or progressing workforce planning, 2012–13
Workforce challenge % of agencies
Source: Agency survey
Resources, time or cost involved in undertaking the task 61
Changes in funding or staffing 36
Difficulties mapping current capabilities in order to predict future capability requirements 26
Uncertainty about the future 25
Limitations of the existing human resources management system 21
A lack of workforce planning experience 19
Large agency size or complexity 13
Inadequate workforce planning models, tools or processes 12
Changes in government direction 12
Difficulties achieving a consensus on the challenges faced by the agency or the capabilities needed 12
Fluctuating workload 11
Inability to access the required workforce data 6
Other 4
Insufficient access to environmental scanning information 3


7 See Chapter 2 for a complete list of workforce risks identified by agencies.

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018