Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

news, latest news, Peter Woolcott, State of the Service, APS Employee Census, skills shortage, computer skills

The well-being of the Australian public service went backwards in the latest federal employee survey despite the fact that additional support measures were put in place to address increased concerns about burnout in the pandemic. Commissioner Peter Woolcott’s State of the Service report, released Monday, revealed new data from agencies and some details from the unpublished latest employee census conducted in May and June 2021, while agencies struggled with shifting teleworking and high societal expectations. More than eight out of 10 of the latest respondents in the census said they were willing to work beyond what is required in their jobs to help their agency achieve its goals. Public employees took slightly fewer sick leavers in 2020-21 than the year before, but still had on average around 12.2 days a year per. employed compared to 13.1 days in 2019-20. Services Australia had the highest rate with 16.6 days. This is because more than a third of federal government employees reported feeling burnt out, and often found their work stressful in the previous census. The APS Wellbeing Index fell 2 percent in 2021 to 68 percent, which Mr. Woolcott attributed to low satisfaction with communications and the promotion of support measures. Nine out of 10 reported that they saw how their role helped deliver results for the Australian people, indicating a very high level of commitment despite last year’s challenges. Woolcott said APS had performed well over the past 12 months. “One of the successes of this period has been how APS employees, regardless of agency or role, have worked together where there was the greatest need,” he said. “The changing mindset – from individual agencies to one company – is crucial for us going forward.” The APS workforce grew to more than 153,000 employees in June 2021, an increase of 2.3 percent from June 2020, mainly located outside of Canberra. The new permanent APS Surge Reserve helped bring more than 3,000 employees to areas most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic response from the government. But there remained critical competencies in digital technologies and information and communication technologies. More than two thirds of the agencies identified the two areas together with data as being the largest capacity gap for the public service. The federal government announced in May that it would commit $ 1.2 billion over six years to support its ambition to become a leading global digital economy and society. The shift would see a stronger focus on new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and quantum computers, building digital skills and encouraging companies to invest in the sector. But the public service annual report showed that the workforce to deliver on those hopes was not there yet. Digital and ICT deficiencies were reported by 81 percent of agencies, however, with computer skills following closely behind with 70 percent. The lack of digital skills was a problem throughout the economy, but a concentration of roles in Canberra exacerbated the problem further, the report suggested. The report outlined that 59 percent of the roles were based in Canberra, but the job market was largely located in other states, including Queensland, Victoria and NSW, which represented more than 70 percent of the country’s talent pool. Agencies were advised to reconsider their placement strategies to address the shortage, where the shortage is expected to worsen by at least 2025. The public service said it increased its digital skills by identifying talent earlier through cadet and apprenticeships, but also focusing on retraining and upgrading the skills of the current workforce. The introduction of new talent programs has resulted in a tripling of digital graduates, cadets and apprentices across the public sector since 2019, with 96 places now increased to around 300 in next year’s admissions. A digital progression stream also aims to close the skills gap by mapping 150 digital roles for career paths to achieve and retain technically skilled civil servants. Our journalists work hard to deliver local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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