Early in Career
The State sector needs to grow its leadership talent to deliver great services and results for New Zealanders. Understanding current talent within the sector is key to helping build a deeper and more diverse pipeline of strong leaders for the future. The Leadership Capability Development and Deployment Programme within the State Services Commission is developing system-wide initiatives to reduce the risk of talent gaps affecting the delivery of services to New Zealanders. A common approach to talent management is being implemented. This focuses on cross-agency deployments to build system leadership capability. The State Services Commission undertakes data analysis to further inform this work and measure progress over time.
Early in Career
The State Services Commission is investing in attracting, developing and retaining new talent for future system leadership with the Early in Careers work programme. To research trends in graduate recruitment and retention in the Public Service, the HRC data was integrated into Statistics New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) in 2015 (see Data Drill Down and Definitions for more information on the IDI). This research showed that in 2014 around 150 graduates began work as Policy Analysts in the Public Service (around 5.8% of the total policy workforce). This was a similar level to 2007. However, in between these years the level of graduate hiring was lower. The lowest point was 2010 when around 60 graduates were hired (around 2.3% of the policy workforce). Graduate recruitment into non-policy professions in the Public Service tends to be at a lower rate than into the policy workforce. Graduate recruitment in these other professions also generally dropped around 2010, but not to the same extent as for the policy workforce.
The following graph shows that around 40-45% of policy graduates who entered the Public Service between 2006 and 2008 were employed in the Public Service five years later (as Policy Analysts or in other roles). For the 2010 cohort only 20% were employed in the Public Service after five years and the 2012 cohort is tracking similarly.
The rate of retention of graduate Policy Analysts has been generally:
- lower than for graduates who worked as Information Professionals or as Social, Health and Education Workers
- higher than for those who worked as Legal, HR, and Finance Professionals or as ICT Professionals and Technicians.
Public Service employees are more qualified than those in the private sector, State-owned enterprises, and local government. However, they are less qualified than employees in the state health and education sectors.
Public servants are becoming more qualified over time. The proportion with no post-school qualifications decreased from 37.7% in 2006 to 32.4% in 2013. The proportion with a degree or higher qualification increased from 40.5% to 47.7% over the same period. Social, Health and Education Workers in the Public Service in particular, had a strong improvement in qualification levels, though there were improvements in all occupational groups.
State Services Commission has been encouraging government agencies to sponsor secondments of talented staff as part of their professional development. Secondments offer experiential learning opportunities that the home agency may not be able to provide. There were 229 Public Service employees on secondment as at 30 June 2017. This is a large increase on the 195 secondments in 2015 and is the highest number since the HRC survey started in 2000. Note: that secondments within departments are not included in these figures.
These opportunities are particularly useful for aspiring leaders to gain valuable experience in a broader range of contexts across the State Services and beyond. Secondments also support better cross-agency collaboration by creating new relationships and a better understanding of the operational challenges and opportunities across the sector. Collaboration improves decision-making by incorporating more diverse perspectives.
As at 30 June 2017, there were 1,025 senior leaders in the Public Service (defined as the top three tiers of managers with chief executives being tier one). This compares to 955 senior leaders last year. The creation of the new Department, the Ministry of Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki has partly contributed to this increase.
Within agencies the average length of service for tier two leaders, excluding those on fixed-term contracts, was 6.8 years in 2017, down from a peak of 12.1 years in 2007. The average length of service for tier three leaders in 2017 was 11 years and has remained relatively unchanged for the past ten years.
Annual sick leave usage for senior leadership is very low, at 4.7 days in 2017. This compares with 6.5 days for the ‘all managers’ group and 8.4 days, on average, for all Public Service employees.
Effective senior leaders are expected to have experience in a range of contexts. Secondments are a good way of building this experience. The number of secondments in leadership and management positions has grown over the past decade. As at 30 June 2017, 63 Public Service managers were on secondment, around three times higher than at June 2007. A new indicator of mobility around the system is the number of senior leader deployments facilitated through Career Boards. There were 27 such deployments in the year to June 2017.
Increased mobility can also be seen in 2015 research using the linking of the HRC into Statistics NZ’s IDI. The graph below shows there was an increase in the number of Public Service tier two leaders who were not in the same role three years earlier, with a higher proportion of roles being filled by recruitment from other Public Service departments. Note: Wellington-based senior leaders were more likely to come from within the public sector, while Auckland-based senior leaders were more likely to come from the private sector.
New measures of the readiness, potential and aspiration of system senior leaders to progress their career are now available from State Services Commission’s new Leadership Insight assessments. Of the senior leaders who have been assessed:
- 21% are ready to progress to a more demanding leadership role without significant additional development.
- 25% have strong long-term potential to excel in a more senior role.
- 35% have a high level of aspiration
- 22% are satisfied in their current role.
 Career boards are made up of chief executives from across the State Services. Chief executives use career boards to bring talented people together with opportunities. This involves matching talent to roles, either to meet specific system needs, or where individual development can be offered through on the job training and support.