Windows of opportunity closing soon for entry-level public service IT jobs

By Stephen Easton

Friday July 28, 2017

Business people waiting for job interview

Applications for federal government IT apprenticeships, cadetships and graduate jobs in 2018 are closing soon and there is high demand for places, according to the Assistant Minister for Digital Transformation.

As in previous years, there are three entry programs: apprenticeships for unskilled workers and students who finish high school this year, cadetships for people who have some tertiary education but need more vocational training, and a graduate program that provides full-time work in various parts of the Australian Public Service.

The Digital Transformation Agency is running all three entry programs this year for the first time, having taken them over from the Department of Finance.

A video published yesterday featuring DTA’s new chief executive Gavin Slater suggests the 2018 experience will be slightly different to previous years, with more of a focus on user-centred design and rapid prototyping. Digital skills director Michelle Norris says there is a “really strong focus” on increasing diversity of the government’s ICT workforce.

Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor announced today that demand was high for the training on offer, but also acknowledges that government is not the most attractive employer in the tech world.

The DTA will place 250 “digital entry level staff” in the public service over the next year, and Taylor’s office predicts the agency will wind up with around about 700 applications to consider for the apprenticeships and 300 for the cadetships. But he is hoping some will be the cream of the crop.

“The private sector is well ahead of us in terms of signing up talent,” said Taylor. “We want the next group of digital superstars to see government as a great place to start their career.”

Building “digital capability” across the whole government is one of the DTA’s new responsibilities and it has been funded $13.9 over three years. The ICT entry-level programs have been expanded for this year’s intake as part of a four-point plan led by DTA’s new chief digital officer Peter Alexander and the Australian Public Service Commission, according to the Minister.

Other parts of the strategy include “identifying and establishing training opportunities through the Digital Marketplace” and “increasing talent retention through defining digital career pathways, opening up new opportunities and better ongoing support” as well as “developing digital skills for executives which will enable better service delivery”.

APS IT apprenticeships are open to current year 12 students or “people with a passion for ICT who are looking for a new and exciting career change” — but the applications close on August 4 so they only have one more week to get them in.

There is a little longer to apply for public service ICT cadetships, which are open to anyone who has finished at least their first year of an ICT-related degree, with applications closing August 11.

The general ICT graduate program, which places recent grads in full-time jobs all over the APS for 12 months while they complete a graduate certificate in government informatics, is also applications up until August 16.

ICT apprentices in the APS are naturally employed at the lowest pay level (APS 1) and work the equivalent of four days a week in a federal agency. They also work toward either a two-year certificate IV or a three-year diploma in general IT, testing, networking, programming, software development, or systems analysis and design. Course fees are covered and there is some paid study leave provided.

Cadets work a minimum of two days a week at APS 2 level while completing a university degree with “a generous study allowance” to cover educational expenses.

There is a different list of participating agencies for each entry program, but all are supposed to provide participants with a permanent job in the APS as well as more general training and opportunities for networking, mentoring and coaching.

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