ICT Skills in the Australian Public Service


  1. Introduction
  2. The ICT Skills Crisis
  3. Online Training

    See Also

  4. Australian e-Government Guide
  5. Podcasting for ICT Education and Training
  6. Other Information Technology
  7. Home


The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) ran an "ICT Skills in the APS - buying in a sellers' market", half day Seminar on Wednesday, 27 September 2006, in Canberra. This looked at what agencies could do in a sellers' market for CIT professionals.

From: ICT Skills in the APS - buying in a sellers' market..., AGIMO, 2006

The seminar is one of a series of E-government Events on topics of relevance to ICT, Internet and the web in public administration. The previous event was an e-Government Update, 20 June 2006.

As is usual with these events, senior public servants from central coordinating agencies set the scene and presented released reports on the topic. Practitioners from agencies then discussed successful implementations. In addition this time we had speakers from the private sector talking about their experience. This is a very useful format, as the audience gets the problem put in context and then credible solutions from people who have done it.

This is a summary of the eGovernment initiatives presented, links to the source documents and some comments on them, based on the seminar. The formal repots mentioned are linked below. The presentation slides o the presenters will be available from the AGIMO web site and a video will also be available. These notes may be of use to students of "Perspectives on Computing" at the Australian National University (COMP3410/COMP6341) and others. It is not intended as a detailed analysis. Comments, corrections and suggested additions would be welcome.


The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), is part of the Department of Finance and Administration. AGIMO provides the information and communications technology (ICT) strategy, standards, and technical architecture within the Australian Government and in consultation with other governments. In some cases the strategies prepared by AGIMO are adopted as mandatory government policy. But AGIMO mostly relies on consultation and persuasion.

Since its move to the Finance portfolio in 2004, AGIMO is also able to use central purchasing procedures and input to the budget, to influence agency actions. AGIMO produces a Better Practice in Online Service Delivery series of guides.

The ICT Skills Crisis

The report Managing and Sustaining the Australian Public Service Workforce, was released by the Australian Public Service Commission in 2005. One of five priority areas this identified for new strategies to attract workers was ICT.

The Queensland government convened the National ICT Skills Summit, in conjunction with industry from 21-22 June 2006 (presentations and a communique are available).


  1. Introduction: Mr Brian Stewart, Strategic Directions Branch Manager, AGIMO, Department of Finance and Administration: Mr Stewart emphasised the collegiate nature of the Australian Public Service (APS), with agencies able to work together on the ICT skills shortage.
  2. Welcome address: Ms Ann Steward, Australian Government Chief Information Officer, AGIMO: Ms Steward mentioned the work of the Secretaries Committee on ICT.

    The Secretaries' Committee on ICT (SCICT) is a strategic, decision-making committee for whole-of-government ICT use by the Australian Government. The SCICT's agenda is informed and supported by both the Business Process Transformation Committee (BPTC) and the Chief Information Officer Committee (CIOC).

    The SCICT was established in place of the Information Management Strategy Committee (IMSC) in June 2006 as a strategic, decision-making committee, to drive whole of government approaches relating to the use of ICT across government.

    From Secretaries Committee on ICT, AGIMO, 2006

  3. Keynote address: Ms Lynelle Briggs, Australian Public Service Commissioner, Australian Public Service Commission. One point mentioned was the new areas ICT is being used for the APS, such as to obtain rapid intelligence information on terrorism.

    The Commission is a central agency within the APS with a critical leadership role in contributing to the future capability and sustainability of the Service.

    From About the Australian Public Service Commission, APSC, 2006

    The APS is considering cadetships and apprentices for obtaining ICT skills:

    Mr Nairn said the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) is the lead agency in developing initiatives to enhance skills in ICT.

    "AGIMO is also investigating an ICT cadetships scheme for university students who have not completed their studies, to encourage them to complete their studies in ICT and consider a career in the APS. ...

    From Nairn Encourages APS ICT Skills Initiatives, Hon Gary Nairn MP, Special Minister for State, Media Release, 27 July 2006

    The Commonwealth Government has now issued a tender for an ICT Apprenticeship programme.

    The Commonwealth has identified an Australian Public Service (APS) ICT Australian Apprenticeship programme as a key initiative to address the current and projected shortfalls in ICT skills identified in the Management Advisory Committee report, Managing and Sustaining the APS Workforce (2005).

    The Service Provider will provide the Services set out in Schedule 1 to the Draft Contract. Those Services include marketing the pilot APS ICT Australian Apprenticeship programme and recruiting, employing, and placing the Apprentices with a Host Agency. The Service Provider will, by arrangement with a Registered Training Organisation (RTO), also provide accredited training, and ongoing support to the Apprentices and their Host Agency supervisors. The Commonwealth expects that the Apprentices will commence their placements with Host Agencies in early February 2007.

    From Group Training Services - APS ICT Australian Apprenticeships Pilot Program, Tender FIN06AGI009, Department of Finance and Administration, 28 September 2006

  4. Addressing the key issues identified by the Managing and sustaining the APS workforce report, Mr Peter Dale, Director, ICT Skills, AGIMO, Department of Finance and Administration: Mr Dale outlined the work of the task force and invited government agencies to join (the Queensland Government is an observer).
  5. Workforce Alignment in ICT in the Australian Taxation Office, Ms Lyn Chapman, Director, Workforce Strategy and Recruitment, ATO.
  6. How to retain and manage the new workforce and 'Y' bother, Ms Avril Henry, Executive Director of HR, AH Revelations: Ms Henrydrew on her experience assisting the Department of Defence with workforce issues.
  7. The importance of mentoring - a case study, Mr Joe Kremer, Managing Director, Dell Australia and New Zealand

APS Reports

A number of related government reports were made available at the forum:

  1. Report of the ICT Skills Foresighting Working:

    • Targeted and decisive action is required to enhance Australia's level of information communication technology (ICT) skills and capability in order to maintain competitiveness and maximise the potential of ICT-generated productivity growth across all sectors of the economy.
    • Research by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts and the Productivity Commission has demonstrated that ICT has played a major role in Australia's productivity growth in recent years, highlighting its potential to support further sustained growth.
    • Australia must ensure that these productivity gains are secured and built upon by increasing ICT labour force participation levels and building the ICT skills base. A highly skilled ICT workforce is the key to business productivity improvement through innovative use of ICT. This in turn provides businesses with the capability to compete successfully for export opportunities
    • The ICT Skills Foresighting Working Group, chaired by Keith Besgrove, Chief General Manager, Information Economy Division of DCITA, has analysed prevailing trends and identified a number of major inhibitors which threaten Australia's future ICT skills development, productivity gains and competitiveness. These are:
      • inadequate coverage and access to quality data on demand for skilled ICT occupations;
      • poorly defined systems of classifying occupational skills leads to gaps and inconsistencies in available data series;
      • apparent declines in industry investment in workforce retraining and up-skilling;
      • flow on effects within the ICT industry of intergenerational social and demographic factors, such as the ageing workforce, changing workplace attitudes and generational patterns of work;
      • outmoded and negative perceptions of ICT occupations and careers due to a poor understanding in schools and across the community of the diversity of ICT occupations and opportunities;
      • evidence of a tightening ICT labour market and the emergence of recruitment difficulties for some ICT skills;
      • falling entry level job numbers for new ICT graduates and a marked decline in ICT course enrolments in the university and VET sectors all suggest a declining pool of local ICT workers in the medium to longer-term;
      • the variable nature of ICT, over time and across industries, that requires ICT professionals to regularly redefine and reassess their roles, functions and skill requirements; and
      • lack of multi-jurisdictional cooperation in regard to the issues outlined above

    Unless these issues are adequately addressed they will lead to a severe constriction in the supply of skilled ICT workers and increase the risk of sustained skills shortages.

    The recommendations in this report suggest key areas to be addressed by government, industry, and education and training providers. Working together to improve the way ICT is represented to parents and young people, to encourage higher levels of ICT workforce participation and to improve understanding of the nature of ICT-related work throughout the economy.

    From: Executive summary, Building Australian ICT Skills, Report of the ICT Skills Foresighting Working Group(PDF 1.7 MB), Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, May 2006

  2. Telework for Australian Employees and Businesses:

    • Telework is a flexible working arrangement that has great potential to meet a number of economic, commercial, social and personal objectives. There are numerous employees and businesses across Australia already undertaking telework through a variety of formal and informal agreements that are tailored to their particular circumstances. However, despite research that demonstrates teleworkers can be up to 40 per cent more productive than workers located in traditional office environments, many workers and businesses are still reluctant to utilise these arrangements effectively.
    • Telework is not an option for all occupations and industries. However for some sectors, appropriately implemented, telework offers the potential to deliver important outcomes: enhanced business practices; improved financial viability through increases in productivity; reduction in certain operating costs (such as real estate, parking and travel); and a greater capacity to attract and retain quality staff (especially in tight labour markets). Workers will benefit from improvements in their work-life balance and an enhanced ability to reconcile their work and family responsibilities by saving time travelling to and from work and providing greater flexibility in working hours.
    • At the commencement of this review, the Australian Telework Advisory Committee expected the impediments to increased uptake of this flexible work practice would be ICT-related. Rather, we found that the impediments are attitudinal, educational and management related. Managers would benefit from enhanced training on the commercial, social and environmental benefits that can flow from work practices - such as teleworking - that are supportive of society's changing values and practices.
    • Telework offers the potential to: remove the traditional constraints of location and time; create possibilities for new and innovative working arrangements; satisfy changing expectations of many younger workers seeking increasingly flexible lifestyles; and facilitate greater workforce participation consistent with the Government's Welfare to Work policies - especially among groups that find it difficult to participate in the traditional workforce such as people with disabilities, mature age workers, carers and workers in rural and regional areas.
    • The Australian Government, as a policy priority, places great importance on the need to support strategies which address the ageing of the workforce and skill shortages in certain industries as well as the economic revitalisation of rural and regional areas. In addition to partially meeting these needs, increased uptake of telework opportunities will encourage greater regional development and renewal, and reduce the environmental impact of traffic congestion and vehicle emissions.
    • Strong leaders, skilled at implementing change and cognisant of the potential gains delivered by telework, are needed to champion a work practice that is likely, in some sectors, to be a key characteristic of the workforce of the future. The Australian Public Service is well placed to take a lead role in promoting telework and quantifying productivity benefits for the Australia economy.

    From: Key Findings, Telework for Australian Employees and Businesses: Maximising the Economic and Social Benefits of Flexible Working Practices, Report of the Australian Telework Advisory Committee to the Australian Government (PDF 772 KB), Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, 2006

Online Training

In a separate initiative the same week, the Australian Computer Society (ACS) announced the Computer Professional (CP) program.

The post-graduate level educational program is primarily delivered online in a structured semester format. It comprises three core subjects: Technology Trends, Business, Legal and Ethical Issues and Business Strategy and IT plus one elective subject: Project Management or Managing Technology and Operations, with others to be added over time. ...

From: ICT Professional Status to be boosted by new 'Computer Professional' Program, Media Release, ACS, 26 September 2006

On-line training technologies, including podcasting and e-publishing provide the potential to rapidly skill ICT professionals in emerging areas.

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