Themes of this strategy

The Digital Profession has 6 broad themes. They are supported by initial signature initiatives to bring the strategy to life, and create momentum from which it can mature.

Establish the Digital Profession

Objective: APS has a new APS professional stream and APS Digital Head of Profession.

1. Establish reference group

The Digital Leaders Group – Executive has been appointed as the reference group for the profession. This group comprises senior CIOs from across government, senior officials of central agencies, and is chaired by the CEO of the DTA. The group will guide and champion development and implementation of the new APS digital profession, in alignment with the evolving professions model. Membership can evolve to allow a diverse range of agencies to contribute to the reference group.

The reference group will be supported by the APSC, particularly in relation to the design of strategic interventions to address digital skills gaps for leaders and the workforce.

2. Develop a digital professional stream strategy

This strategy has been developed to stand up a digital professional stream that is cross-agency, collaborative and guided by the reference group. It is informed by domestic and international experience and best practice.

The strategy includes some practical initiatives that align to government’s Digital Transformation Strategy, that sets a path to world-leading government services.

Progress against the strategy will be reviewed at six and then twelve months, to ensure it continues to deliver on its intended outcomes.

3. Engage with industry, academia and other governments

We will engage and collaborate with industry, other governments and academia to explore opportunities for partnership in innovative approaches to build capability, e.g. mobility. We will aim to use existing channels, such as the Australian Data and Digital Council. This will inform future iterations of the digital profession.

4. Identify Digital Head of Professional Stream

Secretaries Board has selected an SES Band 3 with established credibility in the digital profession. The Digital Head of Profession will champion the digital profession and will not have any formal authority over agency head decision making.

The Digital Head of Profession will ensure alignment of the digital profession with the broader professions model. This includes supporting linkages with other professional streams.

5. Develop a sustainable, long-term funding model that recognises the value to agencies

The DTA, supported by the APSC and other agencies, will coordinate and collaborate across agencies to engage and support the APS Digital Head of Profession.

The APS Digital Head of Profession will seek to align DTA capability work to digital professional stream priorities.

Learning from implementation of initiatives, we will develop a cost-recovery funding model that reflects what agencies can expect through operation of the digital professional stream model.

Leadership of the Profession

Objective: APS has the leadership culture for digital transformation in the APS

6. APS Leaders

The APS Digital Head of Profession will harness the support of people in top leadership roles in the APS. The APS Digital Head of Profession will work alongside senior leaders in the APS to embed and showcase good digital capability.

The APSC and the DTA are delivering the Leading in a Digital Age Program for SES officers. We will continue to roll this out and adjust it as needed. This will include expanding services to state and territory governments.

We expect APS leaders will embed this training in their teams, encourage cross-agency collaboration and to role model the mindsets, attitudes and behaviours needed to embed the culture we need to meet the government’s expectations for service delivery.

APS leaders will be expected to embed digital skills in their work areas. Working digitally is not a technology-centric issue. Our leaders need to have the mindsets, attitudes and behaviours to support a culture of digital transformation across the service. Leaders are our advocates.

The recruitment and development of digital professionals should be top of mind for our leaders who see digital skills as valuable assets for the APS. Similarly, leaders need to foster digital ways of working in their teams, and provide them with the foundational skills needed for this to succeed.

We will include specialists in relevant disciplines as advisers on agency selection panels for key leadership roles in the digital stream.

Professional standards

Objective: APS applies digital professional standards in the course of our business

7. Provide APS stewardship for digital professionals

Digital professionals have told us they need greater recognition of their skills and opportunities to use their skills more flexibly. Stewardship of digital professionals in the APS will help provide new opportunities to showcase and develop their skills, in line with government’s agenda.

We will build a recognition framework for digital professionals, including celebrating their achievements through the Australian Government Digital Awards.

8. Lead and communicate the case for change

We will develop and communicate a shared understanding of what good digital practice look like. 

We will work closely with people involved in delivering and benefiting from the profession so that it has the best chance of achieving its goals.

We will use simple, straightforward, generic language to ensure all people can relate to our descriptions.

We will listen to industry, business and the community to ensure we have the views and input from our diverse community into developing world-leading government policy and services.

9. Develop a code of service

We will continue to develop a digital professions code of service to ensure those in the profession meet thresholds for skills, attitude and aptitude. We will leverage existing standards among industry bodies and from around the world. A clear employee value proposition will help professionals recognise the positive social impacts of their work and encourage people who are ready and willing to adapt to digital roles of the future.

Career pathways

Objective: APS has a digital career pathway model to provide rewarding careers.

10. Identified digital skills for roles

A common framework for skills assessment will help enable initiatives under the profession such as mobility and cross-agency capability uplift. The Building Digital Capability program has produced a career pathways framework, with skill definitions for 150 digital roles. These definitions include ICT roles, such as architecture and testing, as well as human-centred roles such as service design.

We have piloted the career pathways with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. It has helped people to learn skills needed for newer digital roles. Participants have undertaken skills assessments that have produced career pathways. The pathways show how these individuals can transition to different or more advanced digital roles, providing a clear and tailored path for learning and/or development. Capability has been developed through on-the-job coaching. Its success has been driven by a structured approach to co-design and change.

The model can scale by training people to apply career pathways, coaching and change leadership. We are exploring how this model could help government lift skills in ERP development and we are working with the Department of Finance to progress this initiative.

Eighteen learning design standards have been developed and released. These standards specify the knowledge and skill requirements for digital roles.

11. Linking roles, skills and learning

User research is underway to find a tool for correctly linking learning opportunities to skills development needs identified through career pathways. This is being referred to as a career pathways tool. 

Eventually, a tool like this would aim to provide an online repository of roles, associated skills, and linkages to learning solutions to develop people’s capability.

12. Mobility as a career pathway

We will explore options for mobility across the APS and in/out of the service to broaden people’s knowledge and skills. This will help bring and retain the best and brightest talent in the APS.

The reference group will help promote mobility opportunities.


Objective: APS develops and grows digital capability in line with professional standards and career pathways

13. Assess digital skills

We have conducted research on skills and aptitude assessment methods for digital roles, under the Building Digital Capability program. 

We will explore using an aptitude assessment instrument alongside skills assessments (such as the skills defined under the career pathways framework). This will help professionals recognise development opportunities to help deliver better services.

14. Building and growing capability

We will progress the sourcing of training programs for digital roles.

We will explore cross-APS recruitment for key digital roles.

We will continue to deliver coordinated entry level programs to digital roles through the DTA’s Emerging Talent programs – including apprentices, cadets and graduates.

Programs developed under Building Digital Capability will be expanded and delivered to agencies on a cost-recovered basis – such as the development of career pathways for practitioners, and agency-level insights into digital skills.

People learn best within a culture that allows them to make mistakes and be supported through the learning process; in an environment that supports individual learning within the operational context, rather than separate. Competing priorities often make it difficult to commit to learning, with high service and delivery needs overriding time set aside for professional development.

Models such as Capability Cubed will support a cultural shift so learning can be practiced and applied in-place. More information on Capability Cubed can be found on our future of work is learning blog. 

Professional communities

Objective: APS has digital professional communities that share knowledge and insights

15. Support the digital professional community

Specialist communities will be delivered for certain disciplines such as Cloud and Service Design.

We will identify specialists in these disciplines and ask them to steward the discipline. Connections like this can lead to greater mobility to create opportunities for on-the-job learning, while acting as a way to recognise professional skills.

The focus will be on supporting digital professionals to collaborate and learn, and share knowledge, experience and better practice. Networks will have a national reach outside of Canberra.

We will establish a complementary and accessible online repository of professional information.

16. Learning by sharing

We are exploring options to host a Digital Summit and Awards event again in 2020. It is important to publicly recognise great mindsets, attitudes, behaviours and results.

Case studies have been shown to be an important way to share successes and learnings. These will be highlighted and shared across the service, through the Summit and other channels.