8 Mobility

  • Average number of applications


    per role

  • Time to hire



  • Tenure, total sector


    years (+1.6 years vs. 2008)

  • Teachers’ tenure



  • Police officers’ tenure



  • Nurses’ tenure



  • Male tenure


    years (+0.5 years vs. 2008)

  • Female tenure


    years (+1.7 years vs. 2008)

Number of advertisements, openings and applications

Recruitment data extracted from I Work for NSW provides valuable insight into recruitment processes and trends across the sector.1

In 2018, 19,475 job advertisements were created on I Work for NSW, an increase of 2.8% from the previous year. Over the same period, the number of job openings increased by 10.1% (see Figure 8.1).


A total of 449,106 job applications were completed for these job advertisements (a decrease of 7.0% from the previous financial year), with 52.9% of applications from women and 47.1% from men.

The average number of completed applications per job opening was 14.92, a decrease of 15.3% from 2017. This number varied across different job categories, with the highest rates for advertised roles in accounting and financial positions as well as research and analysis.

Schools (6,476) and Emergency Services (5,128) had the highest number of openings in 2018, while Schools also recorded a relatively large number of applications per opening, at 15.2. Emergency Services had fewer applications per opening (2.4), which may reflect the specialised nature of the roles.


The average number of completed job applications per opening was highest for jobs in the salary range of $61,658 to $68,929 (see Figure 8.3).


Successful applicants

Of the 449,106 completed applications, 22,773 were successful (a decrease of 11.4% from the previous financial year). This equates to a success rate of 5.1%, with females being more successful than males (5.7% compared to 4.4%).

More detailed analysis of gender differences in number of applications and success rate can be found in the ‘Gender’ section.

Filling of roles

The average recruitment decision time decreased steadily from 69.1 days in 2015 to 41.5 days in 2018 (see Figure 8.4). 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).

  • Time to recruit in 2018




Agency tenure and movements

After a prolonged period of increases, median tenure of non-casual employees in the public sector flattened out in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, it decreased 0.3 years to 9.0 years (see Figure 8.5).

In 2018, the gap between male and female tenure widened to 0.6 years. Female tenure decreased 0.3 years to 8.8 years, while male tenure remained more stable, decreasing 0.1 years to 9.4 years. Over the 10-year period, male tenure remained relatively stable, and the change in the gap between male and female tenure was more a product of female tenure increasing or decreasing. The gap was widest in 2009, when tenure was 1.2 years longer for males than for females.


Similar to 2017, the services in the government sector with the longest median tenure in 2018 were the Teaching Service (13.3 years), NSW Police Force (12 years) and other Crown services (10.1 years) (see Table 8.1). Within other Crown services, the longest tenure was for NSW Trains (15.7 years), Sydney Trains (10.5 years) and School Administrative and Support (10.2 years). Many of the roles in these agencies are quite specialised, and mobility in these types of roles is generally within a service rather than into other parts of the sector.

The Transport Service had the shortest median tenure in 2018, unchanged from the level of 2017. In 2018, the separation rate for the Transport Service was 15.5%, up from 10.0% in 2017. Significantly, the State Transit Authority had a separation rate of 20.6% in 2018, due to the closure of two depots in northern NSW. In addition, the separation rate in Transport for NSW increased from 11.8% in 2017 to 17.5% in 2018.

Table 8.1 Median tenure (years) for non-casual public sector employees by service, 2018

Service Median tenure (years)
Public Service 7.0
NSW Health Service 7.4
NSW Police Force 12.0
Teaching Service 13.3
Transport Service 5.4
Other Crown services 10.1
Total government sector 8.9
State owned corporations 11.1
External to government sector 6.9
Total public sector 9.0

In terms of occupation groups, Managers had the highest median tenure, at 10.6 years (see Figure 8.6). In addition to Managers, Machine Operators and Drivers, Technicians and Trades Workers, and Community and Personal Service Workers all had average tenures of 10 years or more.


Table 8.2 Top 10 median tenure occupations for non-casual public sector employees, 20184

ANZSCO minor group Median tenure (years) Headcount at census
Education, Health and Welfare Services Managers 19.3 5,508
Stationary Plant Operators 15.9 825
Keyboard Operators 15.8 305
Construction and Mining Labourers 13.7 965
Automotive Electricians and Mechanics 13.6 366
Truck Drivers 13.0 404
Mobile Plant Operators 12.7 1,728
School Teachers 12.6 68,497
Miscellaneous Specialist Managers 12.6 5,754
Electricians 12.5 942

In occupations where there were more than 100 employees, Education, Health and Welfare Services Managers had the longest median tenure of 19.3 years, and close to half of these employees were from the Teaching Service (46.8%, see Table 8.2).

The largest occupation group with the longest median tenure was School Teachers, with a median tenure of 12.6 years. Electricians had a relatively long median tenure in the public sector. Automotive Electricians and Mechanics had a median tenure of 13.6 years, while for Electricians it was 12.5 years. There were 942 Electricians in the public sector in 2018, with 51.4% working for Sydney Trains under other Crown services, while 73.2% of Automotive Electricians and Mechanics were in the Transport Service.

Table 8.3 Bottom 10 median tenure occupations for non-casual public sector employees, 20184

ANZSCO minor group Median tenure (years) Headcount at census
Sales, Marketing and Public Relations Professionals 2.2 1,167
Advertising and Sales Managers 2.3 497
Financial and Insurance Clerks 3.0 110
Financial Brokers and Dealers, and Investment Advisers 3.1 189
Call or Contact Centre Information Clerks 3.6 5,095
ICT Managers 4.0 1,302
Architects, Designers, Planners and Surveyors 4.1 1,163
Medical Practitioners 4.4 14,127
Media Professionals 4.5 160
Accountants, Auditors and Company Secretaries 4.5 2,097

In occupations where there were more than 100 employees, the lowest median tenure was among Sales, Marketing and Public Relations Professionals, and Advertising and Sales Managers, with median tenures of 2.2 and 2.3 years respectively.

The occupation with the highest number of employees in the bottom 10 jobs according to median tenure was Medical Practitioner, with a median tenure of 4.4 years. This occupation also showed a high rate of movement within the sector (10.8%), contributing to the short median tenure.

Table 8.4 Separations, exits and moves; non-casual public sector employees by service, 2018

Service Separation from agency (%) Exit from public sector (%) Movement within the public sector (%)
Public Service 18.6 16.4 2.2
NSW Health Service 9.8 6.9 2.9
NSW Police Force 4.4 3.9 0.5
Transport Service 15.5 13.0 2.5
Teaching Service 2.6 2.5 0.0
Other Crown services 7.2 6.9 0.4
Total government sector 9.5 7.8 1.7
State owned corporations 10.4 9.3 1.1
External to government sector 11.3 9.6 1.7
Total public sector 9.6 7.9 1.7

Across the public sector, both the separation rate and the exit rate decreased compared to 2017 (down 0.7 percentage points and 0.8 percentage points respectively). In the government sector, both rates increased 1.1 percentage points from 2017. The highest separation and exit rates were in the Public Service (18.6% and 16.4% respectively), which was primarily related to the transfer of disability services in Family and Community Services to private providers under the NDIS, resulting in a reduction of more than 4,400 FTE.

Only 1.7% of all separations in the government sector in 2018 were due to internal movements within the broader public sector, with most employees exiting the sector upon separation from their agency. The NSW Health Service had the highest rate of internal mobility (2.9%).

Employees aged 65 or over had the highest separation and exit rates of all age groups (20.7% and 20.5%, respectively), due primarily to retirement. The ‘25 to 29’ age group had the highest rate of within-sector movements, at 3.7%, predominantly due to the mobility of Medical Practitioners between local health districts. Medical Practitioners had a movement rate of 19.8% within this group.

The rate of within-sector movements peaked with the ‘25 to 29’ age group then progressively declined.


1 It should be noted that this does not encompass all recruitment activity in the public sector. The main exclusions are the Health cluster, and the Industry cluster from 2017 onwards
2 Includes only applications where the number of openings was specified
3 The 2011 tenure data is incomplete because NSW Health submitted data for only six months, due to a restructure
4 Only included occupations where there are more than 100 employees