State of the service

ADF Veterans employed in the APS

As part of the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program, the Industry Advisory Committee on Veterans’ Employment was formed to develop and provide advice on practical measures to embed veterans’ employment strategies into the recruitment processes of Australian businesses. The Committee held its inaugural meeting on 31 Mar 2017 and established a number of priority areas of focus, including:

  1. Improving the availability of data on the employment profile of veterans
  2. Improving the transition process from the Australian Defence Force (ADF), and
  3. Translating skills and raising awareness of the value that former members of the ADF offer to Australian businesses.

As part of this program, the Australian Public Service (APS) has committed to introducing initiatives that provide meaningful employment opportunities for veterans. To support this goal, the 2017 APS employee census included the option of identifying as an ex-ADF member and questions that helped explore the experiences of ex-ADF employees.

Close to 6% of respondents to the 2017 APS employee census identified as an ADF veteran. For the employee census, the term ‘veteran’ refers to those past and present ADF members who are employed as Australian public servants and it includes some members who are currently serving in ADF reservist capacities.

Veterans in the APS undertook all types of work. Table 1 shows the top eight areas. Nearly one in six veterans undertook compliance and regulation work.

Table 1.

Table 1. Type of APS work undertaken by veterans – top 8 areas

Veterans Non-Veterans
Type of Work Count Percentage Percentage
Compliance & Regulation 826 14.3 11.7
Service Delivery 623 10.8 21.0
Administration 617 10.7 11.7
Project & Programme 591 10.2 9.1
Information & Communications Technology 511 8.8 8.8
Engineering & Technical 452 7.8 1.4
Human Resources 306 5.3 4.3
Intelligence 299 5.2 1.9

Results showed that there appears to be a fairly steady flow of veterans joining the APS and nearly one in five have worked in the APS for twenty or more years.

Figure 1. Length of Service in the APS.

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Veterans in the APS were predominantly working at the substantive APS 5 – 6 classifications (42%).

Figure 2. Percentage of veterans in the APS in each classification broadband.

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Nearly 60% of veterans in the APS were aged 45 to 59 years.

Figure 3. Percentage of veterans in the APS in each age group.

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Members of the ADF gain an extensive range of skills, abilities, recognised behaviours and attributes that make them valuable employees in the civilian workforce. Many former members will have acquired professional or trade qualifications that are recognised in the civilian workforce, for example, mechanics, health professionals, carpenters, and drivers. The bulk of veterans in the APS (nearly 80%) had attained vocational or tertiary qualifications.

A far greater percentage of veterans had attained vocational, associate, and undergraduate diplomas than APS non-veterans. The proportion of civilians attaining bachelor’s degrees and doctorates was nearly twice that of veterans; however, similar percentages of APS non-veterans and veterans had obtained post graduate diplomas, certificates, or master’s degrees. Overall, nearly 80% of veterans had attained a qualification beyond year 12.

Figure 4. Highest qualification attained – veterans in the APS vs. non-veterans in the APS.

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Table 2 shows the type of military service that veterans in the APS have undertaken. Because many veterans have served as permanent members and reservists, respondents could select more than one option. Over two-thirds of veterans in the APS had served as permanent military members, and nearly half have served as part-time reservists.

Table 1.

Table 2. Service History: Type of service

Type of Service Count Percentage of Cases*
Permanent 3,920 67.2
Reservist – continuous full time service 709 12.2
Reservist – part time service 2824 49.3

* With the option of selecting more than one response, percentages do not add to 100.

Under the Return of Service Obligation (ROSO), the length of training invested in ADF members dictates the minimum length of service they must complete. This is typically four years for non-commissioned members and six or more years for officers. The ROSO most likely explains why over one quarter of veterans having last served for between two and five years and over one in six having served for between six and 10 years (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Service History: Length of last period of military service.

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Figure 5 also illustrates the work experience veterans bring to the APS. Around 54% brought six or more years of experience to the APS, with more than one in five bringing more than 20 years of service experience to their APS roles. Just over 10% of veterans in the APS were still undertaking military service (in a reservist capacity).

The APS appears to attract or retain veterans who completed their military service some time ago, with nearly two-thirds having completed their service over 10 years ago and over one quarter having completed more than 20 years ago. Around 36% appeared to join the APS immediately upon discharge from the ADF.

Figure 6. Service History: Recency of last period of military service.

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As highlighted by the Industry Advisory Committee on Veterans’ Employment, employment profile data are crucial to the provision of meaningful vocational opportunities for those ADF members transitioning into civilian life. This initial employment profile data on the ADF veterans working in the APS will inform future census questions in an effort to better understand and support this population.


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