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Public Service Commission

Types of work

Chapter 4, Workforce Profile Report 2021

Key occupation groups, census period FTE, 2021

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


Train Drivers


Food Preparation Assistants


Employment category, annual FTE, 2021


-0.5pp vs 2020


+0.2pp vs 2020


+0.2pp vs 2020


Same as 2020

Note: 'pp' stands for percentage points

Part-time employees, census headcount


in 2021

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 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees increased by 3.4% (+11,682) in 2021, compared to 2020. The occupations that contributed the most to the increase were Nurses (+1,839 FTE or 3.7%), Clerical and Administrative Workers (+1,179 FTE or 2.6%), School Support Staff (+1,076 FTE or 4.4%) and School Teachers (+940 FTE or 1.4%). 

The rise in the number of Nurses accounts for 15.7% of the overall census period FTE increase in the public sector. This reflects the response to the pandemic, including the mobilisation of staff for COVID-19 testing sites and vaccination hubs. 

The FTE increase in Clerical and Administrative Workers is mainly due to increases in General Clerks (+564) and Clerical and Administrative Workers (+302) across the Health cluster, noting their role at testing sites and vaccination hubs. The increase in School Support Staff is mainly for Teachers’ Aides (+815 FTE) and Youth Workers (+143 FTE). The increase in School Teachers is in line with the engagement of additional teachers under the COVID Intensive Learning Support Program.

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

Table 4.1: Employment categories by service, annual FTE, 2021

Service Ongoing Temporary Casual Other1
Public Service 53,646 8,692 2,134 3,864
NSW Health Service 98,098 19,824 7,393 367
NSW Police Force 19,730 215 0 74
Teaching Service 45,807 19,940 3,124 0
Transport Service 10,358 1,299 34 2,459
Other Crown services 30,134 9,891 4,229 855
Total government sector 257,772 59,861 16,915 7,619
State owned corporations 6,386 312 85 1,497
External to government sector 523 70 3 451
Total public sector 264,681 60,243 17,003 9,567


More than three-quarters of public sector employees in 2021 were ongoing employees (75.3%). Temporary employees accounted for 17.1% of the public sector workforce, an increase of 0.2pp from the previous year. These two categories account for more than 9 in 10 public sector employees.

Annual FTE for ongoing employees increased by 7,150 across the public sector in 2021. All services in the government sector had increases in ongoing annual FTE. The most significant growth was in the Public Service and NSW Health Service, with increases of 2,493 (4.9%) and 1,505 (1.6%), respectively.

Table 4.2: Public sector employment categories comparison, annual FTE, 2020–21

Employment category 2020 2021 Change Change (%)
Ongoing 257,531 264,681 7,150 2.8
Temporary 57,397 60,243 2,846 5.0
Casual 15,693 17,003 1,310 8.3
Other2 9,221 9,567 346 3.8


The annual FTE also increased for employees who were temporary (+2,846 FTE or 5.0%) and casual (+1,310 FTE or 8.3%) in 2021. 

The largest increases were in the Health Service, with the number of temporary employees rising by 2,021 FTE (11.4%), including 1,000 additional Nursing Professionals and Medical Practitioners. The increase in their casual employees (+1,106 FTE or 17.6%) was mainly among Personal Carers and Assistants (+285 FTE or 28.1%) and Midwifery and Nursing Professionals (+249 FTE or 9.7%). 

The second-highest contributor to an increase in temporary employment was the Teaching Service (+1,001 or 5.3%), largely due to the COVID Intensive Learning Support Program. There was also an increase in casual Education Aids in schools (+551 FTE or 60%) in Other Crown Services.

Employment arrangements

The proportion of non-casual NSW public sector employees working part time increased 0.4pp to 27.0% in 2021. The level remains higher than in 2011 when 24.9% of public sector employees worked part time. 

Figure 4.1 shows Other Crown services had the highest proportion of non-casual part-time employees in 2021, at 55.0% (26,853 employees). These employees were mainly School Administrative and Support Workers (including 14,775 Education Aides and 10,763 General Clerks). The NSW Health Service had the second-highest proportion of part-time employees (37.3% or 53,036 employees). The largest groups were Midwifery and Nursing Professionals (21,129), Medical Practitioners (4,557), Health and Welfare Support Workers (3,830) and Health Therapy Professionals (2,670).

The highest proportions of full-time employees were in State owned corporations (95.9%), the NSW Police Force (92.3%) and agencies external to the government sector (88.1%) (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 address a capability gap.

NSW Procurement maintains data on contingent labour use and spend. Around two-thirds of the 2021 data was recorded on Contractor Central, the NSW Government’s vendor management system. Records captured outside Contractor Central are not included in this analysis.

In 2020–21, Contractor Central recorded 14,913 contractor engagements, with an average of 6,958 contractors active at any given time.3 Of these, 65% had tenure of less than a year (see Figure 4.2).


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

2 Ibid.

3 NSW Procurement calculates contractor engagements using monthly timesheet data from Contractor Central. This analysis excludes all records captured outside the Contractor Central system. Note, a methodological change in how contractors are uniquely identified means the figures can’t be compared to previous reported figures. 

4 NSW Procurement calculates tenure as the duration from the contractor’s earliest work order start date to the end date of the contractor’s latest submitted timesheet. It does not consider movement between agencies. NSW Procurement analysis indicates the tenure profile of contractor records captured outside Contractor Central is broadly consistent with this profile.