APS increasingly centralising recruitment: Woolcott

By Jackson Graham

February 16, 2022

parliament house, camberra
Positive self-expression is a powerful weapon against the limits of racism. (Jason Bennee/Adobe)

The Australian Public Service is increasingly looking to centralise recruitment on an opt-in basis for roles throughout all agencies, service commissioner Peter Woolcott says. 

Woolcott told senate estimates on Monday that recruitment at the Australian Bureau of Statistics was a doorway into other vacant APS jobs for data graduates, while there were plans for Treasury to do the same for economists and the Australian Taxation Office for human resources talent. 

“There’s a whole range of areas that we’re looking to start to centralise in terms of bringing in talent on behalf of the whole commonwealth,” Woolcott said. 

He described the future of the public service as becoming more “porous”, with lower retention as workers shifted between jobs and sectors. 

“People do move in and out — they might go to not-for-profits, they might go to the private sector — and I actually think that’s a positive thing, because they’re going to learn new skills and they’re going to bring that back into the public service,” Woolcott said. 

“The important thing is to have that mobility backwards and forwards.” 

The Mandarin reported last week that almost three-quarters of APS agencies were experiencing a shortage of expertise in technical data and digital skills. 

Woolcott told the committee the APS was facing challenges in a “fiercely competitive” labour market for digital and data expertise. 

In another example of centralising recruitment, Woolcott said the Australian Public Service Commission and Digital Transformation Agency were jointly managing the intake of digital graduates. 

Greens senator Larissa Waters quizzed Woolcott on what action he was taking to prioritise in-house capacity over external labour-hire staff, with Woolcott listing the development of the workforce strategy and APS Academy among other initiatives. 

“There are a whole range of things we are doing which we’ve commenced. They take time, but we are very cognisant of the need to be a public service which is able to adjust and have the capability for the future,” he said.


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