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Public Service Commission

Types of work

Chapter 4

Key occupation groups, census period FTE, 2020

School teachers




Clerical and Administrative Workers


School Support Staff


Police Officers


Medical Practitioners


Social and Welfare Professionals


Cleaners and Laundry Workers


Ambulance Officers




Prison Officers




Bus Drivers


Food Preparation Assistants


Train Drivers


Employment category, annual FTE, 2020


75.8% -0.4pp since 2019


16.9% -0.2pp since 2019


4.6% +0.6pp since 2019

Part-time employees, census headcount, 2020


in 2020

Changes in FTE – sector, services and key occupations

The census period provides a snapshot in June each year to compare the size and composition of the sector. Census period FTE employees increased by 3.2% (10,721) in 2020 compared to 2019. Occupations with the largest increases were School Teachers (2,614 or 3.9%), School Support Staff (1,634 or 7.1%) and Clerical and Administrative Workers (1,291 or 2.9%). Other notable contributors were the frontline roles of Ambulance Officers, Nurses, Medical Practitioners and Police Officers (1,862).

School Teachers and School Support Staff account for close to 40% of the overall census period FTE increase (24.4% and 15.2%, respectively). As noted in Chapter 2, this related to several factors including increased school enrolments, the commitment to maintain staff in drought- and/or bushfire-affected schools, and commitments made to casual employees and some temporary employees for engagement in term two 2020 as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Annual FTE provides a view of the workforce over the whole reference period. This is useful for identifying changes that may have occurred during the year, such as the sector’s response to the bushfires in 2019–20. 

There was an increase of 115 FTE Firefighters over the 2020 annual reference period (2.8%).1 Fire and Rescue NSW confirmed this increase was mainly due to retained Firefighters working additional hours to assist the Rural Fire Service during the severe bushfire season in 2019–20. It should be noted that volunteer firefighters are not included in the reported numbers as volunteers fall outside the scope of the Workforce Profile data collection. 

Annual FTE generally provides a better measure when looking at the balance between ongoing, temporary and casual employees, due to seasonal variations in resourcing requirements. 

Table 4.1: Employment categories by service, annual FTE, 2020

Service Ongoing Temporary Casual Other2
Public Service 51,153 8,658 2,274 3,756
NSW Health Service 96,593 17,802 6,288 277
NSW Police Force 19,413 169 0 74
Teaching Service 45,118 18,939 3,519 0
Transport Service 9,631 1,113 26 2,482
Other Crown services 28,858 10,367 3,497 840
Total government sector 250,766 57,048 15,604 7,429
State owned corporations 6,290 245 85 1,363
External to government sector 475 104 4 428
Total public sector 257,531 57,397 15,693 9,221


More than three-quarters (75.8%) of public sector employees in 2020 were ongoing employees. Temporary employees accounted for 16.9% of the public sector workforce, down 0.2pp from the previous year. These two categories account for more than nine in 10 public sector employees.

Annual FTE for ongoing employees increased by 6,368 across the public sector in 2020. All services across the government sector experienced increases. In absolute terms, the largest increases in ongoing annual FTE were in the NSW Health Service (2,222 or 2.4%) and the Public Service (2,043 or 4.2%). 

Table 4.2: Public sector employment categories comparison, annual FTE, 2019–20 

Employment category 2019 2020 Change Change (%)
Ongoing 251,164 257,531 6,368 2.5
Temporary 56,322 57,397 1,075 1.9
Casual 13,283 15,693 2,410 18.1
Other2 8,970 9,221 251 2.8


There was also an increase in annual FTE for casual employees (2,410 or 18.1%) and temporary employees (1,075 or 1.9%). Casual employees in the Education cluster increased by 2,693 FTE. This was partly due to the commitment to engage casual employees for term two 2020, related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Education’s classification of temporary and casual employees for the Workforce Profile was improved to better reflect the dominant type of employment during the year. The largest contributor to the increase in temporary employees was the Health cluster, with a 750 FTE increase. 

Employment arrangements

The proportion of non-casual NSW public sector employees working part time decreased 0.4pp to 26.5% in 2020. The level remains higher than in the longer-term time series, which shows that 24.9% of public sector employees worked part time in 2010. 

Figure 4.1 shows that other Crown services had the highest proportion of non-casual part-time employees in 2020, at 54.6% (25,653 employees). These employees were primarily School Administrative and Support Workers (13,606 Education Aides and 10,377 General Clerks). The NSW Health Service had the second-highest proportion of part-time employees (50,159 or 36.3%). The largest groups were Midwifery and Nursing Professionals (19,914), Medical Practitioners (4,199), Health and Welfare Support Workers (3,737) and Health Therapy Professionals (2,615).

The highest proportions of full-time employees were in State owned corporations (95.6%), the NSW Police Force (92.0%) and agencies external to the government sector (88.3%) (see Figure 4.1).

The contingent workforce

Contingent labour forms part of the overall public sector workforce, with workers typically employed to meet a short-term need or to address a capability gap.

NSW Procurement maintains data on contingent labour use and spend. Approximately two-thirds of the 2019-20 data was captured via Contractor Central, which is the NSW Government’s vendor management system. Records captured outside Contractor Central are not included in this analysis.

In 2019-20, Contractor Central recorded 11,555 contractor engagements with an average of 6,195 contractors active at any given point in time.3 Of these, 44% had tenure of less than a year (see Figure 4.2).4 


1 Fire and Rescue NSW confirmed that the reference period FTE for Firefighters was understated by 252 FTE in 2019. This was taken into account in the calculated change from 2019 to 2020.

2 The ‘Other’ category includes employees whose employment category is Contract Executive, Contract Non-Executive, Statutory Appointee, Transport Senior Manager or Other.

3 Contractor engagements are calculated by NSW Procurement using monthly timesheet data from Contractor Central, the NSW Government’s vendor management system. This analysis excludes all records captured outside of the Contractor Central system.

4 Tenure is calculated by NSW Procurement as the duration from the contractor's earliest work order start date to the end date of the contractor’s latest submitted timesheet, and does not take into account movement between agencies. NSW Procurement analysis indicates the tenure profile of contractor records captured outside Contractor Central is broadly consistent with this profile.