Queensland public sector needs ‘talent’


“Rejuvenation of the public sector workforce is a first-order priority,” Professor Peter Coaldrake says in a new review.

The review into the reporting of the Queensland public sector workforce was released last week by the Public Service Commission.

According to Coaldrake, the public sector’s “workforce of tomorrow” needs to be defined, agreed and accepted.

The purpose of the review is to further increase the transparency and consistency of public sector workforce data, and allow better budgeting and planning for public sector workforce need.

The first stage of the review deals with approaches to data collection and full-time equivalent reporting, while the second stage discusses the “public sector of tomorrow”.

“Measuring the public sector workforce in any jurisdiction can be a hazardous activity,” Coaldrake says.

“In navigating the path forward, the government of the day will require its public sector to operate with prescience and foresight, with the best possible data and talent, with a preparedness to listen and respond to the community and with a willingness to work as one in order to deal with an increasing number of complex issues defying internal boundaries.

“There is an irony that, at a time when the role of government as an institution is under assault, and the fabric of the public sector is also itself challenged, the reliance and expectations of the community on government to provide services and tackle problems, especially here in Queensland, have never been greater.”

Eleven recommendations were made to the Queensland Government over the two stages, such as:

  • A single, immediately retrievable payroll-based system should be adopted across the public service and public sector for “transparency, budget and forward planning purposes”.
  • Quarterly workforce profile reports prepared by the Public Service Commission should be replaced by half-yearly reports covering sector-wide analysis of particular trends and matters as required by government, informing mid-year and annual budget reporting cycles.
  • Future workforce reporting should be based on occupation and earnings, not classifications, as “the changing nature of the workforce renders the classification approach simplistic and unrepresentative”.
  • Strategic workforce planning should be a “cornerstone priority” to better understand changing skills needs across the Queensland public sector, with a whole-of-government as well as portfolio approach.
  • Queensland’s whole-of-government capacity in data analytics and horizon-scanning should be strengthened with the creation of two teams to provide government-wide leadership.
  • Rejuvenation of the public sector is needed through recruitment, reskilling, and strong encouragement of new models of mobility. Excluding professional streams, agencies must be brought together, and planning and investment at whole-of-government and agency-specific levels are required to deal with reskilling challenges.
  • The implementation of the employment security policy and associated Directive 17/16 supporting those affected by workplace change should be reviewed, as “its operationalisation is complex for both  agencies and affected staff members.
  • A unifying statement should be developed for what is expected of the public sector in the future, factoring in the government’s role in “grappling with the most important issues and pressing concerns for the Queensland community”.

The Queensland government has accepted seven of the recommendations. The remaining four recommendations have been accepted in-principle.

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