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Public Service Commission


Chapter 8

Average number of applications

15.0 per role

Time to hire

42.7 days

Tenure, total sector

8.5 years (+0.1 years vs 2010)

Teachers’ tenure

12.4 years

Police officers’ tenure

12.4 years

Nurses’ tenure

8.0 years

Male tenure

8.9 years (-0.2 years vs 2010)

Female tenure

8.4 years (+0.2 years vs 2010)

Number of advertisements, openings and applications

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

In 2019, 22,409 job advertisements were created on I Work for NSW, an increase of 11.2% from the previous year. Over the same period, the number of job openings increased by 17.1% (see Figure 8.1).

A total of 486,150 job applications were completed for job advertisements (an increase of 9.6% from the previous financial year), with 53.4% of applications from women and 46.6% from men.

The average number of completed applications per job opening was 15.02, an increase of 0.1% from 2018. This number varied across different job categories, with the highest rates for advertised roles in prisons, security and rail operations.

Schools (6,344) and Emergency Services (4,178) had the highest number of openings in 2019. Schools also recorded a relatively large number of applications per opening, at 17.2. Emergency Services had fewer applications per opening (3.1), which highlights the specialised nature of the roles.

The average number of completed job applications per opening was highest for jobs with a salary of $268,001 or over (see Figure 8.3).

Successful applicants

Of the 486,150 completed applications, 24,472 were successful, a decrease of 11.2% from the previous financial year. This equates to a success rate of 5.0%, with females being more successful than males (5.2% compared to 3.9%).

More detailed analysis of differences in the number of applications and the success rate between men and women can be found in the Gender chapter of this report.

Filling of roles

The average time to hire has continued to decrease, from 69.8 days in 2015 to 42.7 days in 2019 (see Figure 8.4). Job categories with the shortest time to hire were Customer Services and Call Centre (21.4 days), Legal and Justice (23.1 days), and Prisons and Security (26.3 days).

Time to recruit in 2019

42.7 days

Agency tenure and movements

The median tenure of non-casual employees in the public sector has continued to decrease since 2016, including a drop from 9.0 years in 2018 to 8.5 years in 2019 (see Figure 8.5). The gap between male and female tenure narrowed to 0.5 years in 2019, a decrease of 0.2 years from 2018. Female tenure decreased 0.4 years to 8.4 years in 2019 from 2018, while male tenure decreased by 0.5 years to 8.9 years.

As in previous years, the services in the government sector with the longest median tenure in 2019 were the Teaching Service (12.6 years), NSW Police Force (12.4 years) and other Crown services (9.1 years) (see Table 8.1). Within other Crown services, the longest tenure was for NSW Trains (15.8 years), Sydney Trains (10.0 years) and School Administrative and Support (8.9 years). Mobility for many roles in these agencies is generally within a service rather than into other parts of the sector due to their more specialised nature.

The Transport Service had the shortest median tenure in 2019, with a slight increase of 0.1 years to 5.5 years in 2019. The separation rate for the Transport Service was 21.4%, up from 15.5% in 2018. This was largely due to State Transit Authority franchising Region 6, producing a separation rate of 43.4% in 2019. In addition, the separation rate in Transport NSW increased from 17.5% in 2018 to 18.0% in 2019.

Table 8.1: Median tenure (years) for non-casual public sector employees by service, 2019
Service Median tenure (years)
Public Service 5.6
NSW Health Service 7.4
NSW Police Force 12.4
Teaching Service 12.6
Transport Service 5.5
Other Crown services 9.1
Total government sector 8.5
State owned corporations 9.8
External to government sector 6.6
Total public sector 8.5

In terms of occupation groups, Machine Operators and Drivers had the highest median tenure in 2019, at 10.4 years. Further, Technicians and Trades Workers had a median tenure of 10.2 years and Managers 10.1 years.

Table 8.2: Occupations with the highest median tenure (years) among non-casual public sector employees at census, 20193
ANZSCO minor group Median tenure (years) Headcount at census
Education, Health and Welfare Services Managers 18.6 5,670
Keyboard Operators 16.0 303
Stationary Plant Operators 14.6 748
Automotive Electricians and Mechanics 12.7 331
Electricians 12.4 986
Defence Force Members, Fire Fighters and Police 12.4 19,626
School Teachers 12.2 73,765
Miscellaneous Hospitality, Retail and Service Managers 12.1 1,636
Building and Engineering Technicians 11.9 2,534
Miscellaneous Education Professionals 11.9 1,903

In occupations where there were more than 100 employees, Education, Health and Welfare Services Managers had the longest median tenure, at 18.6 years, and close to half of these employees were from the Teaching Service (47.6%, see Table 8.2). The largest occupation group with the longest median tenure was School Teachers, with a median tenure of 12.2 years.

Table 8.3: Occupations with the lowest median tenure (years) among non-casual public sector employees at census, 20193
ANZSCO minor group Median tenure (years) Headcount at census
Advertising, Public Relations and Sales Managers 2.3 576
Sales, Marketing and Public Relations Professionals 2.4 1,262
Financial Brokers and Dealers, and Investment Advisers 2.9 231
Architects, Designers, Planners and Surveyors 3.2 1,265
Financial and Insurance Clerks 3.4 147
Call or Contact Centre Information Clerks 3.7 5,399
ICT Managers 4.0 1,610
Media Professionals 4.1 176
Sports and Fitness Workers 4.2 166
Medical Practitioners 4.4 14,904

In occupations where there were more than 100 employees, the lowest median tenure was among Advertising and Sales Managers, at 2.3 years, and Sales, Marketing and Public Relations Professionals, at 2.4 years (see Table 8.3).

The occupation with the highest number of employees in the bottom 10 jobs for median tenure was Medical Practitioner, at 4.4 years. This occupation also showed a high rate of movement within the sector (9.9%).

Table 8.4: Separations, exits and moves; non-casual public sector employees by service, 2019
Service Separation from agency (%) Exit from public sector (%) Movement within public sector (%)
Public Service 11.7 9.3 2.4
NSW Health Service 9.4 6.6 2.8
NSW Police Force 5.3 4.8 0.5
Teaching Service 2.5 2.5 0.0
Transport Service 21.4 18.6 2.8
Other Crown services 5.2 4.9 0.4
Total government sector 8.0 6.3 1.7
State owned corporations 10.0 9.9 0.1
External to government sector 9.5 7.9 1.7
Total public sector 8.1 6.4 1.7

Across the public sector and government sector, the agency separation rate and the public sector exit rate decreased compared to 2018, both down 1.5pp. The highest separation and exit rates were in the Transport Service (21.4% and 18.6%, respectively, as shown in Table 8.4). This was primarily related to State Transit Authority franchising Region 6, resulting in a reduction of more than 1,000 full-time equivalent (FTE).

Only 1.7% of separations in 2019 related to internal movements within the public sector, with most employees exiting the sector upon separation from their agency. The NSW Health Service and the Transport Service had the highest rate of internal mobility (2.8%).

Employees aged 15 to 19 had the highest separation and exit rates of all age groups (21.8% and 21.6%, respectively). However, these employees only account for 0.5% of total separations. Employees aged 65 years or over accounted for 9.5% of overall separations, with a separation rate of 17.3% and an exit rate of 17.1%. The exits were mainly due to retirement. Employees aged 25 to 29 had the highest rate of movement within the sector (3.6%), predominantly due to the mobility of Medical Practitioners between Local Health Districts. Medical Practitioners had a movement rate of 14.5% within this group.

In 2019, the rate of movements within the sector continued to display the same pattern as 2018: highest in the 25 to 29 age group and then progressively declining.


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 Only includes occupations where there were more than 100 employees.