Australian Public Service identifies agencies suffer from critical tech talent shortage

The statistics match the latest Seek employment results.

The Australian Public Service (APS) Commission has revealed that 72% of APS agencies have identified they suffer from critical skill shortages within their department, with data, digital, and IT listed as the top three areas.

In documents [PDF] tabled at a public hearing on the current capability of the APS, it was revealed that data was the most commonly reported skill shortage within 70% of agencies, followed by digital at 54%, and IT at 40%.

The insight also showed that the current job functions within APS agencies that are projected to experience the largest growth include intelligence and policy analysts; knowledge managers, data managers, and data analysts; software and application developers; IT helpdesk support; and IT testing.

Despite increased demand for IT skills within APS agencies, Seek's year-on-year review of Australia's employment market showed that the IT sector is still one of the slowest sectors to recover following the pandemic.

Read also: 7 in-demand tech skills to master in 2021 (TechRepublic)

The Seek report showed in January 2021, compared to 2020, there was a 22% decline in new IT jobs. However, those jobs that were advertised included programmers and developers, business and systems analyst, software engineers, help desk and IT support, and program and project managers.

"ICT has traditionally been filled with more contract/temporary roles than any other industry. Interestingly, the jobs advertised on Seek in ICT in 2019 compared to 2020 broken down by work type show very similar results," Seek said.

"In 2019, the split was 58% full-time roles and 42% temporary, part-time, or casual roles. In 2020, there was just a 0.1% difference. Full-time positions accounted for 57.9%, while 42.1% were temporary, part-time, or casual roles."

In the tabled documents, the APS Commission also took the opportunity to highlight that work was underway to develop a whole-of-service workforce strategy focused on helping APS attract, develop, utilise talent. It said the APS workforce strategy -- due to be launched in April -- has been developed to help the APS "operate as one enterprise, with a high performing workforce to deliver effectively and efficiently for the government, the Parliament, and the Australian Public Service".

The APS Commission also outlined it is also on track to develop and implement a strategy specifically designed to help support staff and new recruits with future skills learning, improve the mobility of its workforce, and strengthen the APS by recruiting, developing, and promoting more people with diverse views and backgrounds. 

It follows the release of the APS Digital Professional Stream Strategy that was released alongside the Digital Transformation Agency in April last year, with the goal of "professionalising" the APS, with a focus on digital.

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