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Public Service Commission


Chapter 8, Workforce Profile Report 2021


Average number of applications

13.4 per role

Average time to hire

38.6 days

Tenure, total sector


8.1 years (-0.4 years vs 2012)

Teachers' tenure


11.4 years

Police Officers' tenure


12.8 years

Nurses' tenure


8.6 years

Male tenure


8.5 years (-0.5 years vs 2012)

Female tenure


7.8 years (-0.5 years vs 2012)

Number of advertisements, openings and applications

Recruitment data from NSW public sector departments and agencies provides valuable insights into recruitment processes and trends across the sector.1

In 2021, 23,289 job advertisements were created on I Work for NSW, an increase of 21.5% from the previous year. Over the same period, the number of job openings increased by 32.5% (see Figure 8.1).

Similarly, the number of job applications increased by 10.6% over 2020, to 517,929, with 49.3% of applications from women.

The average number of completed applications per job opening was 13.4,2 a decrease of 12.1% in 2020. This number varied across different job categories, with the highest application rates for advertised roles for Senior Executive; Marketing; Media and Communications; Information Technology; Accounting and Financial positions.

The highest number of openings in 2021 were in the job categories of Schools (6,522), Education or Training (4,228), Administration and Clerical (3,713) and Emergency Services (3,144).

The average number of completed job applications per opening was highest for roles paid at the executive level and above (see Figure 8.3).

Successful applicants

Of the 517,929 completed applications, 24,894 were successful, a decrease of 1.6% from the previous financial year. This equates to a success rate of 3.8%, with females being more successful than males (4.2% compared to 3.1%).

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.

Average time to hire

38.6 days

Filling of roles

The average time to hire continues a downward trend, decreasing by one day from 2020, to 38.6 days (see Figure 8.4). Note that this data can be influenced by factors such as the completeness and accuracy of the digital record of all recruitment actions.

Agency tenure and movements

The median tenure of non-casual employees in the public sector has continued to decrease since 2016, falling from 8.4 years in 2020 to 8.1 years in 2021 (see Figure 8.5). The gap between male and female tenure grew to 0.7 years in 2021, an increase of 0.1 years from 2020. Female tenure fell by 0.4 years in 2021 to 7.8 years, compared to 8.2 years in 2020, while male tenure decreased by 0.3 years to 8.5 years in 2021.

As in previous years, the services in the government sector with the longest median tenure in 2021 were NSW Police Force (12.5 years), the Teaching Service (11.4 years) and NSW Health Service (7.9 years) (see Table 8.1). Tenure is measured within the agency and is therefore generally longer in agencies with more specialist roles.

In Other Crown services, median tenure decreased by 1.8 years, from 8.2 years to 6.4 years in 2021, mainly due to a 2.4-year fall in median tenure for School Administrative and Support Workers.

The Transport Service had the shortest median tenure in 2021, with a slight decrease of 0.3 years to 5.2 years. The separation rate for the Transport Service was 9.0%, up from 8.8% in 2020.

Table 8.1: Median tenure (years) for non-casual public sector employees by service, 2021

Service Median tenure (years)
Public Service 5.3
NSW Health Service 7.9
NSW Police Force 12.5
Teaching Service 11.4
Transport Service 5.2
Other Crown services 6.4
Total government sector 8.0
State owned corporations 10.8
External to government sector 6.4
Total public sector 8.1

Table 8.2: Separations, exits and moves; non-casual public sector employees by service, 2021

Service Separation from agency (%) Exit from public sector (%) Movement within public sector (%)
Public Service 11.8 9.3 2.5
NSW Health Service 10.2 7.1 3.1
NSW Police Force 5.8 5.2 0.6
Teaching Service 5.2 5.2 0.0
Transport Service 9.0 7.8 1.3
Other Crown services 6.7 6.3 0.3
Total government sector 8.7 6.9 1.8
State owned corporations 6.3 6.2 0.1
External to government sector 8.4 7.3 1.0
Total public sector 8.7 6.9 1.8

Employees aged 15 to 19 had the highest separation and exit rates of all age groups (21.5% and 21.0%, respectively). However, these employees only account for 0.5% of total separations. Employees aged 65 and over accounted for 9.4% of overall separations, with a separation rate of 17.1% and an exit rate of 16.9%. The exits were mainly due to retirement. Employees aged 25 to 29 had the highest rate of movement within the sector (3.9%), mainly due to Medical Practitioners moving between Local Health Districts (17.0%).

In 2020, the rate of movements within the sector continued to display the same pattern as 2020: highest in the 25 to 29 age group and then progressively decreasing across the higher age ranges.


1 Recruitment data is collected from public sector agencies’ source systems where available. The main exclusions are the Health cluster, most of the former Industry cluster from 2017 to 2019, and most of the Transport cluster in 2021.

2 Only includes applications with a specified number of openings.

3 The average number of weeks from date of application to the date of hiring. Excludes requisitions with multiple openings, which can have extended advertisement periods.

4 Only includes occupations with more than 100 employees.