26 September 2023

Review has eye on classification levels

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Australian Public Service Commissioner (APSC), Peter Woolcott says a review of classification levels in the APS structure had the potential to shape the Service for many years to come.

Speaking at the APS Wide Conference in Canberra last week (11 February) Mr Woolcott said the APSC, supported by the Secretaries Board, would also complete benchmarked capability assessments of all Band 3s in 2020 and would begin capability assessments for all Band 2s and 1s.

“These assessments will help target development, guide career paths and identify low capability,” Mr Woolcott said.

“The APS leadership cohort has great strengths and we benchmark well against the private sector in managing complexity and in delivering.”

He said however there was some work to do around ensuring the Senior Executive Service (SES) was innovative and that it made the effort to develop the people it supervised.

“We also have some work to do in bedding down the 2013 changes to the Public Service Act which emphasise the role of the SES in focusing on outcomes which are to the benefit of the wider system and not just their Agency,” Mr Woolcott said.

He said the workforce strategy would also inform the development of a mobility framework for the APS.

“We know that mobility is important for the APS — it leads to diversity of thinking and the contestability of ideas and lifts the overall capability of the APS as well as that of the individual,” he said.

“At the same time, we need a balance. Too much or poorly targeted mobility can have an adverse impact and we can lose subject matter expertise. Deep expertise must be a core capability of the APS.”

Mr Woolcott said there was a need to develop incentives, targets and other practical measures to support mobility across the APS and also in and out of different sectors.

“Such a system should also have more porous boundaries and stronger connections with the private sector and State jurisdictions,” he said.

“Another foundation for a capable APS is ensuring we have a workforce which is diverse in experience, thought, background and heritage. It is important that the APS reflects the community we serve and is continually exposed to different ideas and approaches in delivering our services.”

The Commissioner said the APS was also investigating options to improve employment and retention of mature-age workers.

“We know that the representation of mature-age workers in the Australian labour force is increasing steadily, as people choose to, or have to, work longer,” Mr Woolcott said.

“As a large public sector employer, we need to be reflective of the population we serve — the Australian public — to be able to better understand our customers and deliver services.”

Mr Woolcott’s speech can be accessed at this PS News link.

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