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Mobility and tenure

Separation rates have been very stable since 2002–03, while engagement rates have fluctuated.

  • Engagement and separation rates closely aligned in 2016–17.

Mobility comprised 1.4% of employees who transferred between agencies, and 0.6% who were promoted to another agency

  • Despite fluctuations in mobility over the past 15 years, 72% of APS employees have only worked in a single agency.

Most promotions were to the APS5, APS6 or EL1 level

  • 92% of promotions were within the employee's agency.

Engagements and separations

During 2016–17 there were 9,123 engagements of ongoing employees (Table 32). This included 5,293 women (58%), consistent with their overall representation across the APS (59%) (Table 33). The number of engagements fell from 11,017 in 2015–16; trends since 2002–03 show these have fluctuated from year to year, ranging from 2,363 in 2014–15 to 20,949 in 2005–06 (Table 33).

During 2016–17 there were 9,677 separations of ongoing employees (Table 47). As with engagements, the proportion of women separating (5,514, or 57%) was consistent with their proportions of the APS workforce.

The number of separations in 2016–17 was very similar to that 12 months prior (9,795 in 2015–16) and tends to be quite stable from year to year (generally between 9,500 and 11,000 since 2005–06) (Table 47), however, the engagement rate has fluctuated over the same period (Figure 6.1).

Figure 6.1: Engagement and separation rates (per cent of ongoing employees), 2002–03 to 2016–17

Source: APS Statistical Bulletin 2016-17 – data tables, Tables 1a, 32 and 47

Engagements by age and classification

In 2016–17, 45% of newly engaged staff were under the age of 30, compared with just 13% of the existing workforce (Figure 6.2). Most engagements were at the APS 3 (18%), APS 4 (17%) and Graduate (16%) level (Figure 6.3).

Figure 6.2: Engagements during 2016–17 versus APS workforce (ongoing employees) at 30 June 2017, by age group

Source: APS Statistical Bulletin 2016-17 – data tables, Tables 14 and 32

Figure 6.3: Engagements during 2016-17 versus APS workforce (ongoing employees at 30 June 2017 by base classification

Source: APS Statistical Bulletin 2016-17 – data tables, Tables 5 and 33

Separations by separation type

The most common separation type in 2016–17 was resignation (46%), although this fell from just under 70% in 2002–03 and a peak of 74% in 2006–07 (Figure 6.4). In contrast, separations due to retrenchment rose from just over 12% in 2002–03 to 26% in 2016–17. Age retirements were the next most common reason for separation, at 23%; this has risen from 11% in 2002–03.

Figure 6.4: Separations of APS employees, 2002–03 to 2016–17

Source: APS Statistical Bulletin 2016-17 – data tables, Table 47
Note: ‘Other’ includes physical/metal capacity, death, compulsory move to non-APS agency and all other reasons.


The overall mobility rate—ongoing movements between agencies of ongoing employees—was 2.1% in 2016–17 (Figure 6.5). This included 0.6% who were promoted across agencies and 1.4% who transferred at (or in a small number of cases, below) substantive level (these add to 2.1% due to rounding). The overall mobility rate has increased from 1.5% in 2002–03, but is down from its peak of 3.2% in 2007–08. Note that there are also several hundred temporary transfers between agencies each year (657 in 2016–17) which are excluded from these ongoing rates.

Figure 6.5: Mobility rates for APS staff, 2002–03 to 2016–17

Source: APS Statistical Bulletin 2016-17 – data tables, Tables 1a, 44 and 45

Transfers and relocations

During 2016–17 there were 1,971 ongoing staff transfers between agencies within the APS (Table 45a). The most common type of transfer was to a policy agency (52% of all transfers), and the most common form of two-way transfer was from one policy agency to another (60%) (Table 45b). A total of 6,192 employees physically moved location from one state/territory to another (or overseas) during the year (Table 46).


A total of 11,460 APS employees were promoted during 2016–17 (Table 44). The vast majority of these (10,590, or 92%) were promoted within their own agency.

The most common promotions were from APS4 to APS5 level (2,316 or 20%), APS5 to APS6 (2,295 or 20%) and APS6 to EL1 (2,030 or 18%) (Table 41). Among all levels, the average age at promotion during 2016–17 was 36.8 years (Table 42). Among APS-level employees, this ranged from 34.8 at APS5 to 37.6 at APS3. As would be expected from their demographics, more senior levels had higher ages of promotion to their current level, from 37.1 for EL1s to 52.7 for SES Band 3s.

Tenure and length of service

Almost three-quarters of APS employees (72%) have worked in a single agency. This proportion has remained very stable since 2003 despite fluctuations in mobility rates overprevious years (Table 66). A further 18% have been employed by two agencies, with the remaining 10% in three or more.

The median length of service across the APS was 10.5 years in 2017. The gap between males and females has narrowed from 1.9 years in 2007 to 0.2 in 2017.

Figure 6.6: Median length of service in years by gender, June 2007 to June 2017

Source: APS Statistical Bulletin 2016-17 – data tables, Table 67

Last reviewed: 
11 February 2019