Multigenerational workforce

In workplaces today, there is the potential for up to five generations to be working together at any one time. Our ageing workforces are reflective of the fact that Australia continues to have one of the longest life expectancies, with workers remaining active in the workplace for longer. 13

The DEOPE recognises the value of knowledge and expertise acquired by mature workers over a career and supports initiatives to give mature workers equal opportunities and provide inclusive workplaces so they may continue to contribute to the sectors. Public authorities need the capability to capture this knowledge and expertise, and transfer it to others in preparation for when mature workers chose to retire.

In recent years, many authorities have undergone reform and significant widespread changes. This brings with it a period of transition, and presents opportunities for innovation. To harness innovation, public authorities must welcome incoming ideas and the expertise youth bring when entering the workforce, and connect it with the wealth of knowledge and experience possessed by mature employees.

Workforce age diversity is different to other diversity groups and tends to more naturally reflect broader social trends. Ensuring a productive balance of people from all age groups should be a focus of modern public authorities. The ability to harness skills, experience and enthusiasm from people of any age has been proven to create supportive workplaces where individuals can contribute. 

People 24 and under​

6187 employees are 24 and under in the public sector

Youth are spread across salary bands 1 to 6 with a majority of youth at salary bands 1 to 3. This is reflective of their experience in the workplace. A large portion of youth at these bands are education aides, registered nurses, primary school teachers and secondary school teachers.

Young Aboriginal Australians are strongly represented in the public sector, while youth with disability are less represented.

Diversity snapshot - People 24 and under

Strengthening rela​tio​nships

In the reporting period the DEOPE commenced work on a multigenerational strategy aimed at realising the strategic benefits of generational diversity. The strategy aims to define what age equality means for public authorities and provide a set of practical actions.

As generations Y and Z enter the workforce, they bring innovative corporate solutions, fresh perspectives and digital expertise. 14 University graduates are leaving tertiary education later with higher level qualifications, and this needs to be taken into account in talent attraction, identification and retention. Designing and delivering attractive graduate programs are a proven way to secure strong talent.

Representation of people 24 and un​der 

  Category of employment

Representation (%)

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Public sector

Public sector (All staff)

5.1

4.6

4.7

4.4

4.4

Local governments (LGA)

LGA (Indoor workers)

14.2

15.5

16.6

16.2

14.6

LGA (Outdoor workers)

7.0

8.5

7.6

6.6

9.6

Public universities

Public universities (Academic staff)

3.3

2.9

2.9

2.4

2.1

Public universities (General staff)

8.3

9.6

9.8

11.0

10.8

Other authorities

Other authorities (All staff)

6.3

6.2

6.3

5.0

4.5


return to top

In focus

Graduate program nationally recognised

Each year the Australian Association of Graduate Employers conducts a survey of more than 2500 graduates across Australia on  attitudes and opinions towards their current employer over a range of categories. 15 These include training and development, quality of work, career progression and company culture.

In 2017, the interagency program coordinated by the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) was named as the second top ranking graduate employer in Australia based on the survey results. This represents a jump from 14th in 2016 for DMP, which has retained top rank for State Government departments for the third year in a row.

The point of difference has been providing graduates a unique opportunity of a committed permanent position through an interagency collaboration between DMP, the Department of State Development and the Department of Regional Development. Running over 18 months, graduates commence their career in public service through tailored and individualised rotations designed to impart valuable skills and experience. 

This well-established interagency graduate program underpins DMP’s wider commitment to attracting and retaining youth (defined as under 25) and young professionals (defined as 35 and under) and is run alongside hosting trainees from the Commission’s school-based traineeship referral service. 

Graduate programs are initiatives that demonstrate efficient multigenerational working relationships. The collaboration of young graduates fresh out of university and senior career public servants ensures that service delivery benefits from both emerging industry trends and innovation, as well as invaluable public sector experience.

Quote from former graduate: Samantha Carter, DMP – ‘This interagency graduate program allowed me to develop my professional skills and build strong networks across the public sector. The diversity of work experiences and extensive training programs provided me with unique knowledge and career opportunities which have allowed me to successfully progress my career in a meaningful way.’

People 45 and over​

73 199 employees are 45 and over in the public sector

Data shows that while employees aged 45 and over are spread across all salary bands, there are concentrations at salary bands 1 and 6.

A large majority of salary band 1 employees are employed as education aides, school cleaners and school traffic wardens.

At salary band 6, many employees are primary school teachers, secondary school teachers and teachers of students with special needs.

Diversity snapshot - People 45 and over

Older Australians aged 55 and over currently make up 25 per cent of the population and is one of the fastest growing demographics in Australia. 16

Research shows that older workers have a lower unemployment rate than younger Australians. However, when faced with unemployment, older workers are at a significant disadvantage when seeking work. 17

Additionally, a national survey conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2015 revealed that 27 per cent of people over the age of 50 had recently experienced discrimination in the workplace, with a third reporting that the discrimination occurred when applying for a job.18

People managers may not recognise that generational inequity is still prevalent in the form of conscious and unconscious bias. The DEOPE is working to address age-related assumptions, connotations and stereotypes that present hidden barriers to employment.19

Representation of people 24 and under 

  Category of employment

Representation (%)

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Public sector

Public sector (All staff)

51.9

52.4

52.4

52.6

52.6

Local governments (LGA)

LGA (Indoor workers)

37.5

40.5

45.3

40.4

42.9

LGA (Outdoor workers)

56.2

53.4

62.6

59.3

57.8

Public universities

Public universities (Academic staff)

40.4

37.4

36.9

40.2

42.7

Public universities (General staff)

35.0

37.3

30.8

31.8

31.4

Other authorities

Other authorities (All staff)

41.6

42.9

41.7

43.5

42.6

 

13 Commonwealth of Australia 2015, 2015 Intergenerational Report: Australian in 2055.

14 C. Merrick. X, Y, Z – generations in the workforce. Training Journal 2016.:21.

15 Australian Association of Graduate Employer, 2017, Graduate Survey 2017.

16 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2010, Australian Social Trends: Older people and the labour market – September 2010.

17 Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) 2016, Willing to Work: National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians and Australians with Disability.

18 Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) 2015, National Prevalence survey of age discrimination in the workplace, cited in note 17 above.

19 Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) 2013, Fact or Fiction? Stereotypes of Older Australians: Research Report, cited in note 17 above.

return to top


Page last updated 14 September 2017