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This page provides high level information and data on the Government industry which comprises three main industry sectors:

  • Government Services
  • Interpreting and Translating
  • Local Government.

For more information on these areas, see the Government Services, Interpreting and Translating and Local Government pages.

See Corrections and Public Safety for more information on that sector.

The Public Sector comprises federal and state/territory governments, statutory bodies and state-owned corporations. Public Sector employees play a key role in the development, review and implementation of government policies and provide an array of services for the community. There is a diverse range of occupations within the Public Sector, spanning areas including policy, finance, governance and regulation, and multiple disciplines, such as education, health, transport, police and emergency services. There are currently over 1,987,000 Public Sector employees in Australia and the Public Sector is expected to experience strong levels of growth over the next five years.

Nationally recognised training for the Government industry is delivered under the PSP – Public Sector Training Package.

Information sourced from the Public Sector IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment levels and trends

Employment in the Public Administration industry increased steadily between 2000 and 2019. In 2019 there were 607,500 workers, which is projected to grow to 656,000 by 2024. Though not all workers in the area of Government may be captured by this industry, it nevertheless provides a good indicator of the employment in the area.

Employment in Public Order, Safety and Regulatory services has risen between 2000 and 2019, with some variability between 2007 and 2013. This measure includes workers out of scope for this cluster, such as those in the police, fire and prison services, however it is also relevant to the regulatory functions this cluster includes. Employment in Public Order, Safety and Regulatory services is projected to increase from 199,700 in 2019 to 208,300 by 2024.

VET-related occupational proportions

Most of the main VET-related occupations identified in the Public Administration industry are projected to see employment growth between 2019 and 2024. This growth is particularly strong for Welfare Support Workers with a projected increase of 23%, followed by Intelligence and Policy Analysts with a projected increase of 13% and Policy and Planning Managers with a projected increase of 11%. Contract, Program and Project Administrators are projected to have the lowest growth, at approximately 2%. Inspectors and Regulatory Officers are projected to decline by around 3% between 2019 and 2024.

VET-related occupation projections are also generally positive in Public Order, Safety and Regulatory services. Occupations such as Other Specialist Managers and General Clerks are projected to grow by approximately 8% and 5% respectively between 2019 and 2024.

Please note this does not include VET-related occupations that are not relevant to this cluster, such as police and fire-related occupations (covered in the Corrections and Public Safety industry cluster).

Training activity

Program enrolments and completions in Government-related qualifications increased substantially between 2015 and 2017, with the largest increase being between 2016 and 2017. Program enrolments and completions declined significantly between 2017 and 2018. Subject-only enrolments declined between 2015 and 2017, and then rose substantially between 2017 and 2018.

Industry insights on skills needs

The Public Sector IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast suggests the top priority skills for the Public Sector are all soft skills, ranging from teamwork and communication through to stress tolerance and flexibility. The top generic skills range from thinking critically, virtual collaboration and social intelligence through to foundation skills.

According to the job vacancy data, the top requested skills by employers in the Government industry were communication skills and planning. The most advertised occupations were Contract, Program and Project Administrators followed by General Clerks. The top employers were the New South Wales Government and the Government of Queensland.

The Public Sector IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identifies a number of key skills gaps across the Public Sector, including:

  • Leadership: Associated skills range from technical skills to problem solving, project management, managing staff and managing change.
  • Intercultural competence: Workers need skills to understand and value the input of all employees, regardless of their cultural or demographic background. The cultural diversity of communities will continue to require that Public Sector service delivery and public policy development be culturally appropriate, and safe.
  • Technology: Digital literacy and being proficient in the use of different technological platforms are essential skills. Information and communications technology (ICT) developments are particularly having an impact on the skills needs of entry-level positions and early career roles in Public Sector agencies.
  • Data skills: Data is a fundamental source of insight which Public Sector staff are increasingly drawing on to inform policy and program development and support decision-making processes. Understanding data and basic analysis and interrogation skills are important for many Public Sector roles.
  • Soft skills: Soft skills include things like communication, teamwork, problem solving, emotional judgement, professional ethics and global citizenship.

The Public Sector IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast highlights the significance of the ageing workforce. Nearly half (48%) of the Australian Public Service (APS) workforce is aged 45 years or over. Attraction and development of staff to address the effects of an ageing workforce is a focus for many agencies, including introducing lifelong learning opportunities. Implications of an older workforce include the loss of skills and knowledge due to retirement, and retirement may be further accelerated across the sector as changes to superannuation arrangements, employment arrangements or other work conditions are made. Succession planning has therefore never been more important for the sector than now, and in the 2018–19 budget the Australian Government announced the Collaborative Partnership on Mature Age Employment, an initiative to encourage employers to collaborate to reduce age discrimination and create more mature-age friendly work environments. Other examples of programs and processes being applied to address the impact of an ageing workforce include: mentoring programs, leadership development programs and workplace exchanges with other agencies or overseas.

The Public Sector IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast also highlights the significance of government regulation and legislation changes. The federal, state and territory governments have been implementing a number of changes impacting the functions and ways of working of the Public Sector workforce. The aim of the changes has been to improve public trust in the Public Sector and increase the professionalism of the workforce. Regulatory and legislative developments pertaining to government investigations (i.e. the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)) and government security (e.g. data) have been instigating change in protocols and processes which will need to be reflected in the Training Package Products, to ensure skills training matches industry practices.

The 2018 report Australia's Tech Future: Delivering a Strong, Safe and Inclusive Digital Economy, by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, states that emerging technologies, data and analytics, and artificial intelligence present significant opportunities for the Government to deliver better outcomes for the public and the ability to do so more efficiently and effectively. By harnessing the opportunities of digital technologies the Government can continue to improve citizen and business experience. Millions of Australians are already securely accessing a range of government services online every day, including, myGov, myTax, and My Health Record. Data analytics and artificial intelligence capability can also help governments to improve services and create a more valuable experience for individuals and businesses by using existing data insights to tailor services. There are many challenges that impact on a government's ability to adopt innovative digital technologies. One of the most important challenges is the capability barrier in terms of staff skills and knowledge. To design, build and deliver great digital services governments need the right people with the right skills.

In the 2019 Australian Government Response to the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee Report: Digital Delivery of Government Services, the Government agrees that digital capability is a key skillset for the APS, and recognises the importance of providing pathways for ICT and digital specialists to join the APS workforce as well as education and training initiatives to build the digital capability of existing staff. The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) supports Digital Entry Level Programs to help APS agencies attract, select, uplift and retain digitally skilled employees. Since the first program commenced in 2007, there have been 1,135 participants in the program. One of the Entry Level Programs is the Digital Apprenticeship Program which supports year 12 graduates (or equivalent) to enter the APS and develop their digital skills. Apprentices work full-time while they study a range of ICT courses to support further development. Other Entry Level Programs include cadetships and programs for university graduates. These programs are additional to department and agency specific programs to attract ICT specialists. As part of the Building Digital Capability program, a series of learning design standards for specialist digital roles have been developed. A digital leadership program is also being delivered to support senior executives to drive digital culture across their agency.

For specific analysis of issues affecting Local Government, see Local Government.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate

Australian Capital Territory Government

Australian Government Department of Defence

Australian Government Department of Education

Australian Government Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business

Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT)

Australian Local Government Association (ALGA)

Australian Public Service Commission (APSC)

Chief Minister of the Northern Territory

Environmental Health Australia (EHA)

Government of South Australia Office of the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment

Government of Western Australia Public Sector Commission

Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA)

Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ)

Local Government Association of South Australia

Local Government Association of the Northern Territory (LGANT)

Local Government Association Tasmania (LGAT)

Local Government New South Wales (LGNSW)

Local Government Professionals Australia

Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV)

National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI)

New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet

New South Wales Government

New South Wales Government Public Service Commission

Northern Territory Government

Northern Territory Government Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment

Planning Institute of Australia (PIA)

Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet

Queensland Government

Queensland Government Public Service Commission

South Australian Department of the Premier and Cabinet

South Australian Government

Tasmanian Department of Premier and Cabinet

Tasmanian Government

Tasmanian Office of the State Service Commissioner

Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet

Victorian Government

Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA)

Victorian Public Sector Commission (VPSC)

Western Australian Department of the Premier and Cabinet

Western Australian Government

Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA)


Government bodies

ACT Government

Department of Communities (WA)

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development (Commonwealth)

Department of Local Government, Housing and Community Development (NT)

Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs (Queensland)

Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (WA)

Local Government Victoria

Office of Local Government (NSW)

Office of Local Government (SA)


Employee associations

Australian Services Union (ASU)

Australian Workers’ Union (AWU)

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU)

Local Government Engineers’ Association (LGEA)

State Public Services Federation Tasmania (SPSFT)

United Services Union (USU)


Regulatory bodies

Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)


Relevant research

Australia's Tech Future: Delivering a Strong, Safe and Inclusive Digital Economy – Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science

Australian Government Response to the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee Report: Digital Delivery of Government Services – Australian Government Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2017, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 2 digit Public Administration Industry and Public Order, Safety and Regulatory Industry, employment projections to May 2022
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2022
    • Contract, Program and Project Administrators
    • General Clerks
    • Information Officer (formerly Inquiry Clerks)
    • Inspectors and Regulatory Officers
    • Intelligence and Policy Analysts
    • Other Specialist Managers
    • Policy and Planning Managers
    • Welfare Support Workers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Employed persons by industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed September 2017

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 2 digit Public Administration Industry and Public Order, Safety and Regulatory Industry, 2000 to 2017, May quarter.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 2 digit Public Administration Industry and Public Order, Safety and Regulatory Industry, and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training packages:

  • PSP – Public Sector Training Package
  • LGA – Local Government Training Package.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 subject enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Public Sector IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2019, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2019,

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2016 and June 2019 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills/Occupations
    • 75 Public Administration
    • ANZSCO major groups excluding Professionals
  • Employers
    • 5111 Contract, Program and Project Administrators
    • 5311 General Clerks
    • 1399 Other Specialist Managers
    • 5212 Secretaries
    • 5412 Information Officers
    • 75 Public Administration.
Updated: 31 Mar 2020
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