Chapter EightJob mobility

Average number of applications per vacancy

Tenure total sector (+19.7% vs 2007)
9.3 years

Teachers tenure
13.4 years

Police officers tenure
12.2 years

Time to make recruitment decision
45.7 days

Male tenure (+0.7% vs 2007)
9.5 years

Female tenure (+26.5% vs 2007)
9.1 years

Nurses tenure
8.1 years

Number of advertisements, openings, and applications

Recruitment data extracted from I Work for NSW provides valuable insight into recruitment processes and trends across the sector1.

In 2017, 19,072 job advertisements were created on I Work for NSW, an increase of 5.4% from the previous year. Over the same period, the number of job openings increased by 7.2% (see Figure 8.1)2,3.


A total of 463,481 job applications were completed for these job advertisements (a decrease of 1.5% from the previous financial year), with 51.9% of applications being from females and 48.1% from males.

The average number of completed applications per job opening was 17.95, a decrease of 7.7% from 2016.This number varied across different job categories, with the highest rates for advertised roles in Accounting and Financial as well as Research and Analysis (see Table 8.1).

Table 8.1: Job categories with highest ratio of completed applications per opening, 20173,6

Job category  Completed applications per opening
Accounting and financial 24.8
Research and Analysis 24.3
Customer services and call centre 23.3
Sales and marketing 23.1
Information and communications technology 22.2
Schools 20.5
Procurement 18.9
Media, publicity and communications 18.6
Planning 16.4
Senior Executive 16.0

In terms of salary, the average number of completed job applications per opening was highest for salary ranges $45,800 to $85,098 (see Figure 8.2).


Successful applicants

Average recruitment decision time 
45.7 days

Of the 463,481 completed applications, 23,984 were successful (an increase of 9.6% from the previous financial year). This equates to a success rate of 5.2%, with females being more successful than males (6.0% compared to 4.2% for males).

In the senior executive roles7, 5.0% of completed applications by females were successful compared to 2.8% by males. However, as there were 2.8 male applications for every female application at this level (up from 2.3 in 2016), more male applications were successful overall. This smaller pool of female applicants highlights the challenges to be worked through by the sector when recruiting people to meet the Premier’s Priority for female senior leaders.

Filling of roles

The average recruitment decision time decreased steadily from 94.5 days in 2014 to 45.7 days in 2017 (see Figure 8.3). Job categories with the shortest time to recruit were Human Services (27.5 days), Community (29.2 days) and Prisons and Security (31.5 days)8.


Agency Tenure and Movements

The median tenure9 of non-casual employees in the Public Sector increased from 7.5 years to 9.3 years over the decade leading up to 2016, due in part to an ageing workforce, but remained relatively stable between 2016 and 2017 (see Figure 8.3).

Over the same ten-year period, median tenure for females increased to almost the same level as that of males, and  remained stable between 2016 and 2017 (at 9.1 years). In contrast, median tenure for males has shown little variation over the years and the median in 2017 was the same as it was in 2016 (9.5 years). In 2017, the gender difference in median tenure was 0.3 years, down 81% from a difference of 2.7 years in 2007.


Similar to 2016, the services with the highest median tenure in 2017 were the Teaching Service (13.4 years), NSW Police Force (11.7 years) and Other-Crown Services (10.5 years) (see Table 8.3). The vast majority of the employees were Teachers and Police Officers demonstrating the specialised nature of these vocations. When compared to other roles within the public sector, the specialised nature of these roles limits the movements between services. Lower tenure in the other services suggests that there is more mobility in the roles on offer.

Table 8.2: Median tenure (years) for non-casual Public Sector employees by service, 2017

Service Median Tenure
Public Service 8.0
NSW Health Service 7.4
NSW Police Force 11.7
Teaching Service 13.4
Transport Services 5.4
Other Crown Services 10.5
Total Government Sector 9.2
State Owned Corporations 10.5
External to Government Sector 6.3
Total Public Sector 9.3

In terms of specific occupation groups, Managers and Machine Operators and Drivers had the highest median tenure at 11 years, and Professionals and Clerical and Administrative Workers the lowest at 8.4 years (see Figure 8.5). Though the tenure for Managers and Machine Operators and Drivers was considerably longer than tenure for the other occupation groups, many employees in the Managers and Machine Operators and Drivers group were unlikely to have been managers for their entire agency tenure, only being promoted to managerial roles after a number of years of service.


Across the Public Sector, the separation rate rose from 10% to 10.3% between 2016 and 2017. The Government Sector, on the other hand, showed a decrease in separation rate changing from 9.4% in 2016 to 8.4% in 2017. These rates are consistent with the overall changes that were seen in sector size from 2016 to 2017, specifically a decrease in the size of the public sector but growth in all areas of the government sector.

Table 8.3: Rates of separation, Public Sector exit and mobility for non-casual Public Sector employees by service, 2017

Service Separation rate % Exit Rate % Movement rate within PS %
Public Service 12.7% 10.8% 1.9%
NSW Health Service 10.5% 7.3% 3.2%
Transport Services 10.0% 9.2% 0.8%
Other Crown Services 6.0% 5.7% 0.3%
NSW Police Force 4.0% 3.6% 0.3%
Teaching Service 2.9% 2.9% 0.0%
Total Government Sector 8.4% 6.7% 1.7%
State Owned Corporations 67.6% 67.4% 0.1%
External to Government Sector 11.6% 10.1% 1.6%
Total Public Sector 10.3% 8.7% 1.6%

Only 1.7% of all the separations in the Government Sector in 2017 were due to internal movements within the broader Public Sector, with most employees exiting the sector upon separation from their agency. The largest separation and exit rates were in State owned corporations within the Public Sector with a 67.6% separation rate primarily due to the privatisation of Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy, as well as the privatisation of Pillar. Within-sector movements occurred most readily in the NSW Health Service, and were also relatively high within the Public Service. In particular, Public Service Senior Executives had an internal movement rate of 2.8%, 0.3 percentage points lower than it was in 2016, with a potential cause of the decrease being the completion of the GSE senior executive transition.

Employees in the 65 and above age group had the highest separation and exit rates of all age groups (20.4% and 20.1%, respectively), due primarily to retirements. The 25 to 34 age group had the highest rate of within-sector movements at 3.3%, predominantly due to the mobility of Nurses and Doctors between local health districts.

The rate of within-sector movements in the 35-to-44 age group was approximately half of that of the 25-to-34 age group, suggesting that as people age they settle into their roles and their mobility decreases.

End Notes

1 - This chapter does not include data from the whole of the Public Sector as not all departments and agencies use the I Work for NSW e-recruitment system (with the most notable exception being the Health cluster).
2 - Recruitment data for 2017 contained only 6 months of data for the Industry cluster, as agencies in this cluster migrated to a different recruitment system midway through the year.
3 – Data was obtained from the I Work for NSW e-recruitment system
4 – The 2016 stats have been amended due to data revisions.
5 - Includes only applications where the number of openings was specified.
6 - Completed applications per openings where the number of openings is greater than 100.
7 - Job advertisements with a minimum salary equal to or greater than $178,850 were considered senior executive level.
8 - Only job categories where the number of roles filled was greater than 25 were included.
9 - Tenure is currently reported at agency level, meaning employees can separate from an agency but remain in the Public Sector.