Chapter FiveWhat we do

The NSW Government delivers a broad range of services, drawing upon the skills of numerous occupations. This chapter considers the various roles that employees perform across the sector and the employment arrangements under which they work.

Largest Occupation Groups, 2017

School Teachers
Census period FTE: 65,707

Census period FTE: 46,907

Clerical and Administrative Workers
Census period FTE: 29,518

School Support Staff
Census period FTE: 21,248

Police Officers
Census period FTE: 16,074

Medical Practitioners
Census period FTE: 11,469

Cleaners and Laundry Workers
Census period FTE: 4,888

Census period FTE: 4,410

Fire Fighters
Census period FTE: 4,144

Ambulance Officers
Census period FTE: 3,825

Prison Officers
Census period FTE: 3,825

Bus Drivers
Census period FTE: 3,663

Residential Care Officers
Census period FTE: 3,034

Food Preparation Assistants
Census period FTE: 1,951

Train Drivers
Census period FTE: 1,849

Largest Occupation Groups From Previous Years


Employment arrangements, Annual FTE, 2017

-1.1pp since 2016

+0.7pp since 2016

-0.1pp since 2016

Part-time/full-time Ongoing Employees

Part-time employees

Male - 14%

Female - 86%

Full-time employees

Male - 43.5%

Female - 56.5%

Contingent labour workforce

Estimated as the equivalent of
7,962 FTE in 2017.

Changes in Annual FTE – Sector, Services and Key Occupations

Annual FTE is the sum of all paid hours worked over the reference period and provides the most accurate view of the human resources being used to deliver government services to the people of NSW. The annual FTE of all ongoing employees in the public sector decreased between reference periods. Total annual ongoing FTE fell by 1.9% (4,901 FTE) between 2016 and 2017 (see Table 5.1). Over the past year, annual FTE for ongoing roles decreased for all services in the sector, except for the Health Service and the Transport Service, where it increased by of 2.0% (1,755 FTE) and 1.4% (154 FTE) respectively.

Table 5.1: Public Sector employment categories comparison, annual FTE, 2016 & 2017

Employment Category 2016 FTE 2017 FTE 2017 FTE, % of Public Sector % Change from last year
Ongoing 255,841 250,941 77.7% -1.9%
Temporary 43,328 47,281 14.6%  9.1%
Casual 17,332 16,793 5.2% -3.1%
Other1 7,977 8,093 2.5%  0.7%

Table 5.1 shows that the cohort of temporary employees grew once again, both in absolute terms (increase of 3,953 FTE since 2016) and as a proportion of the total public sector (13.4% in 2016 to 14.6% in 2017). This can be partly attributed to increases in education related activities across the sector, with the addition of 1,635 FTE for temporary School Teachers and 807 FTE for temporary School Support Staff. The TAFE Commission also experienced an increase of 377 in annual FTE.

In contrast, the annual FTE for casual employment decreased by 539 (-3.1%) from 2016 to 2017. Proportionally, the representation of casual employees in the sector in terms of annual FTE, has decreased by 0.1 percentage point from 2016 to 5.2% in 2017.


Within the public sector the NSW Health Service and the Teaching Service together account for over half (53.4%) of ongoing annual FTE, 68.1% of temporary annual FTE and 61.2% of casual annual FTE.

NSW Health Service and Teaching Service

Temporary Employees

Casual Employees

Table 5.2: Employment categories by service, annual FTE, 2017

Service Ongoing annual FTE Temporary annual FTE Casual annual FTE Other1 annual FTE
Public Service 49,577 6,950 2,209 3,281
NSW Health Service 90,718 15,676 5,960 240
NSW Police Force 19,112 127 1 25
Teaching Service 43,190 16,506 4,315 0
Transport Service 11,223 416 54 1,535
Other Crown Services 26,923 7,120 4,177 928
Total Government Sector 240,742 46,795 16,715 6,009
State Owned Corporations 9,589 371 74 1,673
External to Government Sector 610 115 4 411
Total Public Sector 250,941 47,281 16,793 8,093

Changes in census headcount – Sector, Services and Key Occupations

Census headcount (also known as headcount at census date) is the number of persons employed (employees) on census date. This year, ongoing employees as a proportion of the total public sector workforce decreased by 1.4 percentage points to 71% and 4.6pp when compared to 2007 proportion of 75.6%. In 2017, the NSW Police Force and the Transport Service had the highest proportion of employees who were ongoing relative to their total workforces (99.0% and 82.9% respectively; see Table 5.3). In the Transport Service, Automobile, Bus & Rail Drivers were the largest occupation group (3,999 headcount, 26.5% of the total Transport Service workforce) and were primarily employed as ongoing employees (95.9%).

The nature of NSW public sector temporary employment has been changing over time. While temporary employees' census headcount has increased 6.2% (3,697 headcount) over the reference period, the data indicates that the duration of their employment varies across the sector.

The Teaching Service temporary headcount increased by 1,593 employees and represented 43.1% of the overall increase in temporary employees over the reference period. When analysing the NSW public sector without the Teaching Service since the introduction of the GSE Act, the commencement rate for temporary employees has increased from 24.1% to 31.7%, and their median tenure has decreased slightly from 2.1 to 1.9 years. This means that more than half of temporary employee in 2017 were not employed in 2014. So while the number of temporary roles has increased, their high turnover suggests that these roles are being used to fill a fluctuating need for labour.

Tenure for temporary Teaching Service staff has increased from 4.7 years in 2014, to 5.0 years today and their proportion of the temporary workforce has increased from 29.5% to 33.0% over this period.

Table 5.3: Employment categories by service, headcount at Census date, 2017

Service Ongoing headcount Temporary headcount Casual headcount Other1 headcount
Public Service 53,159 9,192 5,858 5,956
NSW Health Service 107,080 20,625 11,547 656
NSW Police Force 20,466 179 3 24
Teaching Service 50,133 20,748 10,079 0
Transport Service 12,521 596 287 1,692
Other Crown Services 28,847 11,029 12,442 1,058
Total Government Sector 272,206 62,369 40,216 9,386
State Owned Corporations 6,290 335 80 1,149
External to Government Sector 647 154 11 490
Total Public Sector 279,143 62,858 40,307 11,025

Looking at annual FTE as a proportion of annual headcount gives a good representation of the relative difference between staff working in different employment categories. Casual annual FTE is only 21.7% of the casual annual headcount, a much lower proportion than the ongoing and temporary employment categories and reinforces the ad-hoc nature of casual roles when compared to other roles.

Table 5.4 - Public Sector employment categories, annual FTE as a proportion of annual headcount, 2017

Employment Category Annual FTE as a proportion of annual headcount
Ongoing 82.1%
Temporary 62.7%
Casual 21.7%
Other1 30.5%

Contrasting the Public Service

The NSW Public Service and the Australian Public Service (APS) provide a useful comparison. Since 2014 both services have decreased their headcounts by 3.7%.2 However this year the services moved in opposite direction, with the APS decreasing by 2.3%2 while the NSW Public Service increased its headcount by 0.8%.

While the overall headcount for the Public Service has increased slightly this year, Annual FTE has decreased by 2.5%. This year, 16.2% of non-casual employees in the Public Service were employed part time, up from 15.2% last year. The comparable figure for the APS in 2017 is 15.8%2​​.

Employment Arrangements

The proportion of non-casual part-time employees in the NSW public sector has increased from 25.4% in 2007 to 27.6% in 2017, and is up 1.1 percentage points compared to 2016, when the figure was 26.7%.

Figure 5.2 shows that other Crown services had the highest proportion of non-casual part-time employees in 2017 at 52.7%, while the NSW Health Service had the second highest proportion at 31.8% of the non-casual workforce in this service. At 95.3%, School Support Staff (21,933 headcount), the majority of whom work in Other Crown Services, have the highest proportion of part-time employees, followed by Nurses at 38% (19,680 headcount) and School Teachers at 27.7% (19,411 headcount). Together these three occupations account for 63.3% of all part-time non-casual employees in the public sector.

The highest proportions of full-time employees were in State owned corporations (95.4%), the Police Force (91.0%) and the External to Government Sector (88.6%) (see Figure 5.2).


In the NSW Police Force, the majority of employees were Police Officers (80.6%), with most working full-time (92.7%). In the Transport Service of NSW, bus and train drivers made up 26.3% of the workforce and 90.8% of these roles were full-time.

Table 5.5: Employment arrangement by service, non-casual headcount at Census date, 2017

Service Part-time headcount Full-time headcount Total headcount
Public Service 10,482 54,105 64,768
NSW Health Service 40,685 87,180 127,865
NSW Police Force 1,865 18,804 20,669
Teaching Service 19,468 51,413 70,881
Transport Service 1,813 12,996 14,809
Other Crown Services 21,558 19,376 40,934
Total Government Sector 95,891 243,874 339,926
State Owned Corporations 357 7,417 7,774
External to Government Sector 139 1,081 1,291
Total Public Sector 96,397 252,372 348,991

Over the past year, the proportion of both men and women in part-time employment increased, by 0.8 and 0.6 percentage points respectively. 36.8% of non-casual female employees in the NSW Public Sector were in part-time employment arrangements in 2017, compared with 11% of male non-casual employees were.


Of the 98 public sector departments and agencies that employed people on a part-time basis in 2017, 84 agencies, or 86%, had at least 75% female part-time employee representation, compared with 93% of agencies last year. Only 10 departments and agencies (9.8%) had a lower proportion of female part time staff than the female representation of the sector, which is currently, 64.8%. 

Figure 5.4 shows the proportion of part-time employees by gender for each service. Again in 2017 the NSW Health Service has the highest proportion of men in part time employment (16.7%, up 0.4pp) and the second highest proportion of women (37%, up 0.3pp), indicating that there is a relatively high degree of flexibility within the Health Service for both males and females, particularly Nurses (40.6% of female nurses, and 20.5% of male nurses work part-time).

Other Crown Services again stands out as the only service with a majority of female roles being part-time (74.8%, up 0.4pp). The Public Service has the closest parity between males and females in part time work, with 21.1% of women employed part time compared to 10.2% of men.


Across all salary bands, the proportion of part time employees has increased when compared to 2016. While the public sector is often considered a leader in providing part-time working opportunities to its employees, there is considerable variation in across salary bands in the proportion of staff working part-time. As seen in Figure 5.5, the lowest salary band ($8,000 - $60,154) had the highest proportion of part-time employees, 51.7%, in 2017. The second highest proportion of part time employees was in the salary band $79,384 - $90,215, with 28.6% of staff employed part-time. The non-linear distribution of part-time working arrangements as salary increased shows that there is considerable variation in the types of roles that can be undertaken part time across salary bands.


When this data was viewed by gender females were more likely to be employed part-time across all salary bands (see Figure 5.6).


The Contingent Workforce

Contingent labour provides significant support to any workforce. In the NSW public sector, the contingent workforce is not accounted for in the PSC  Workforce Profile data collections as they are not direct employees of the NSW Government. Their activity is however reported by using supplier data collected and collated by NSW Procurement in combination with data extracts from Contractor Central.  In time, procurement data for the whole of sector will be available solely through Contractor Central, which will deliver significant data quality improvements and analysis. 

Contingent workers are typically employed to meet a short term need or to address capability gaps. This is reflected in the length of their contract, with 83.8% of contingent workers having contracts that are less than 12 months.


The contingent labour workforce was estimated3 as the equivalent of 7,962 FTE in 2017.

The following analysis uses this conversion to FTE to provide an indication of size and impact. The largest number of contingent workers was in the administration category (1,936 FTE). Despite having the highest FTE (24.3 % of total), the administration category only accounted for 12.2 % of the reported total spend on contingent labour. This was due to the relatively low average cost of roles in the administration category. Spend on ICT accounted for under half of the reported spend on contingent labour in 2017 (47.7 % across ICT Network and Equipment; ICT Management, Implementation & Support; and ICT Applications, Databases and Systems). In terms of FTE, these three categories accounted for 2,849 FTE, or 35.8 % of the total, highlighting that many ICT roles were paid relatively higher salaries.

Overall, of the top 10 spending categories in 2017, the Specialist category was the only one to experience significant growth, increasing from 16.9% of the total Contingent Labour spend in 2016 to 19.6% in 2017.  Of that, the following role types represent the highest expenditure where the prevalence of ICT based jobs lends to the sector’s priority in innovating and improving service delivery.


Table 5.6: Top five contingent labour roles by expenditure, 2017

Role Type Percentage of total expenditure
Project Coordinator/Project Manager/Program Manager
ICT Business Analyst 4.1%
ICT Project Manager 2.7%
Administration Assistant 2.6%
 IT Specialist/ICT Consultation  1.8%

Source: Procurement NSW, Contractor Central. Note a significant proportion of expenditure is not allocated to a role type.

End Notes

1 - The 'Other' category includes employees who employment category is; Contract Executive, Contract Non-Executive, Statutory Appointees and all ‘Other’ employment categories
2 - APS Statistical Bulletin 2016-17 – Size of the APS
3 - FTE is estimated by dividing the Total Hours worked by Contract length and then converted to FTE. An entire year assumes a 35 hour week for 52 weeks.