Temporary jobs ratio in Australian Public Service highest in 20 years

By Jackson Graham

Friday October 8, 2021

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The Australian Public Service workforce is growing bigger but the pandemic has led to the most temporary jobs being in the mix since at least 2002. 

The sector grew by 2.3% in the 2020-21 financial year, with about 3500 more staff boosting the total workforce to 153,495 people, according to annual APS employment data

But the rise in workers was slightly less than the 2.4% growth the APS experienced in the previous financial year. 

And the biggest growth was from 1798 ‘non-ongoing jobs’, which made up just over half of the additional workforce. 

The temporary jobs are now 13% of all the workforce — the highest portion non-ongoing jobs have had in the APS since at least 2002 when online records start. 

The data showed temporary positions have risen since the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020, when the jobs climbed to 12.1% of the total workforce, up from 9.9% in 2019. 

A spokesperson for the Australian Public Service Commission told The Mandarin the increase particularly reflected a need for workers to help with the government’s COVID-19 recovery plan. 

Services Australia last year saw an increase in 2952 non-ongoing employees, the biggest increase in the APS. 

The spokesperson said preparations for the 2021 census also scaled up temporary jobs, with non-ongoing roles at the Australian Bureau of Statistics increasing by 409 people last year.

“Agency heads remain responsible for managing their workforce within their resources and providing the right mix of staff to accommodate organisational requirements,” he said. 

The latest APS data also showed only 8430 people separated from their employment in 2020-21, the fewest since 2004. 

Retrenchments were at the lowest ebb since 2008 and there were no compulsory moves to non-APS agencies, which the data showed were factors behind workforce continuity. 

The ACT’s share of the APS workforce grew the most out of all states and territories, climbing by about half a percentage point to 58,837 workers. 

The total workforce includes 60.2% women, 3.5% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 4.1% people with disability, and 22.3% of workers were born overseas. 

More than 60% of the workforce is aged over 40 and 13.7% under 30, the data shows. 


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