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Understanding Your Public Sector Clients

by Staff Writers •
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The State of the Service Report for 2006-07, delivered recently by the Public Service Commissioner, provides detailed information about the Australian Public Service (APS). It offers vendors a valuable perspective on the market and the people they selling to.

The APS grew strongly during 2006–07 to 155,482, an increase of 5.9%. This growth was driven by the need to support new Government initiatives including those in defence, national security, welfare and indigenous affairs.

Although there have been variations during the period, APS numbers are now broadly similar to what they were in 1988.

ICT vendors will increasingly be dealing with female clients when they engage with public sector organisations. Feminisation of the public sector continued in 2006-07. 57% of APS staff was female, and female employment grew by 4.8% during the year.

While still under represented in higher classifications, women now occupy 36.1% of Senior Executive Service (SES) positions, up from 34.9% in 2006 and just 19.7% a decade before (1996-97). The report predicts that women are likely, for the first time, to outnumber men at the EL 1 classification within three years. It also predicts that women’s representation in the SES will equal that of men in a decade.

There is considerable variation across agencies in the number of women in SES positions. Women occupy 60.2% of SES positions in DEST (53.8%), 56% in Health, 54% in DEWR, 52% in ASIC, and 50.5% at FaCSIA. Large agencies with the lowest representation of women at SES levels are Defence (26.6%), BoM (23%), DOTARS (23%) and DAFF (24%).

The report showed that the average public servant is ageing, with the median age in 2007 at 42 years, compared with 38 in 1995. The number of mature-aged employees (those aged 55 and over), increased by 12.7% during the last year, and this group now represents more than 11% of the workforce.

The report found a high level of pride in working in the APS, with 79% of employees agreeing they were proud to work for the APS. This reinforces the advice provided during Intermedium sales training courses, that those seeking to sell into government should clearly understand what drives public servants. As this result shows, in many cases it has more to do with a commitment to public service than to strictly commercial rewards.

Other findings of the report:

  • 53% of pubic servants have graduate qualifications
  • Median length of service in June 2007 was 11 years
  • 35.6% of APS employees are located in Canberra
  • Over the past 15 years, there has been a steady increase in the proportion of opportunities filled from outside the APS– excluding base-grade recruitment, 36.5% of positions by outside engagement in 2006-07

The typical new starter in the APS is now a 32-year-old (up from 31 years last year) with graduate qualifications at the APS 3 level, and is more likely to be a woman than a man.

The typical APS employee is a 42-year-old with graduate qualifications, at the APS 6 level (a change from the APS 4 level last year), and again, is more likely to be a woman than a man.

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