State of the service

APS Recruitment

2014-15 State of the Service Report – Recruitment

The APS needs to be able to attract and retain the best and brightest people for all roles. Current recruitment and selection processes tend to be lengthy and convoluted. In a competitive market, slow recruitment may mean the loss of the best candidates. Only 34% of APS employees agree their agency applies merit appropriately.

The current legislative environment also creates constraints, particularly in relation to engaging people for specified terms.

Agencies require the flexibility to change staffing profiles in response to their needs. For the APS to secure the most talented candidates, it must:

  • be more agile and able to bring in the best people quickly
  • remove self-imposed red tape
  • support a cultural shift to focus on business needs
  • encourage innovative approaches to getting the right people.

In 2016, this is an area that will attract focused attention.

Recruitment in the APS is about finding the best and most talented people. APS agencies recruit employees to meet current and future business demands. This requires competing for talent with other organisations including the private sector. To be prepared for the future it is important to understand why employees choose to join the APS. Results from the APS Entry Survey assist in providing this understanding.

  • “New APS employees report that serving diversity groups was an important factor in their decision to join their agency.”


Employees joining the APS most commonly report coming from other public sector agencies or not for profit bodies.

Figure 1.

Previous employment of new employees

Paper icon representing the learn more page Learn more about this chart: view data for Figure 1.

Percentage of new employees

Figure 1. Previous employment of new employees

Previous employment

Figure 1. is a bar chart showing

The location of the job has an impact on what sector new employees come from. In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), the majority are drawn from other APS or Commonwealth agencies. In the other states and territories, the APS draws more heavily on employees from the private sector.

Figure 2.

Interactive Chart: New employees from private sector by location

Paper icon representing the learn more page Learn more about this chart: view data for Figure 2.


Figure 2. Interactive Chart: New employees from private sector by location

The demands for different types of skills that APS agencies place on the labour market have changed over time. The number of entrants to service delivery roles has almost trebled. The nature of employment has also changed substantially with the proportion of employees in ongoing roles dropping from 77% in 2013-14 to 54% in 2014-15.

The factors attracting employees to the APS have remained stable since 2013-14. In 2014-15 new entrants were less likely to rate job security and stability as important. They were more likely to report serving diversity groups as an important factor contributing to their decision to join their agency.

The most common reason reported by survey respondents for joining the APS is the type of work available. Most employees taking up an ongoing position expect to stay with their new agency for at least the next two years.

The APS Recruitment Guidelines provide APS agencies with information to tailor recruitment processes to achieve greater efficiency, preserve transparency and open competition while upholding the principle of merit.

The guidelines encourage agencies to continue to be autonomous and flexible when managing their recruitment processes within the boundaries of legislation, while providing consolidated information and guidance modelled on best practice.

On 31 October 2013 arrangements were put in place to control APS recruitment by limiting the number of new employees. In response to a significant reduction in the size of the APS, the Government announced in the 2015–16 Budget that modifications to the interim recruitment arrangements would take effect from 1 July 2015.

These modifications returned responsibility to agency heads to manage the size of their workforces—including recruitment activity—in line with Government expectations. The cap on graduate and other entry-level recruitment no longer applies. External controls on recruitment have been replaced by reporting and monitoring of APS agencies’ employee headcount through the budget process.

Further information is available about APS staffing arrangements on the APSC website.

Help us improve the State of the Service website, take the short online survey here.

Read the State of the Service Report 2014–15 on the APSC website.