Information for agencies
The Australian Public Service Commission delivers the Digital Traineeship Program. It is an Australian Government pilot policy initiative to address digital skills shortages and increase digital workforce diversity in the Commonwealth public service.
The program helps agencies access talent at the APS 1-6 classifications (or equivalent). This helps them build their digital talent pipelines. It aims to attract people from groups currently under-represented in digital such as:
- First Nations peoples
- people aged 45 years and over
- veterans transitioning to civilian roles and their spouses.
Digital skills shortages
ICT, digital and data skills are the largest Australian Public Service skills shortage, as reported in the APS Agency Survey. They are in the top 3 skillsets agencies outsource to consultants and contractors. The 2023-24 Federal Budget commits over $2 billion to digital and ICT projects. There is a compelling case for trialling new and innovative approaches to address digital skills shortages.
Building digital skills supply
The government has committed to 1,000 new Commonwealth public sector digital traineeships over the next 4 years. The Digital Traineeship Program has already received over 3,000 applications. These are from people looking to reskill, change or start their digital career.
About the program
The Digital Traineeship Program helps agencies access talent when they need it.
The APSC advertises opportunities at regular intervals throughout the year. Each recruitment round adds new candidates to the merit pool. Participating agencies access the merit pool and make offers to selected candidates. Before commencing in their roles with employing agencies, participants complete foundation and fundamentals training for working in digital in the Commonwealth public sector.
The pilot is evolving in response to agency needs and opportunities for improvement.
APSC service offer
To deliver the Digital Traineeship Program, the APSC:
- promotes the program to prospective applicants
- manages and coordinates the process for assessing applications and interviews
- creates and maintains APS 1-6 merit pools, valid for 18 months
- matches merit pool candidates to agency needs
- runs a tailored foundations and fundamentals course for agency recruits
- curates individual learning plans requiring participation in at least 10 Digital Profession events
- provides mentoring and other support services for trainees and agencies.
Participating agencies submit a request to access the merit pool. The APSC works with agencies to understand their needs. This helps identify a list of relevant candidates from the merit pool. Agencies select candidates from the list to contact about specific opportunities.
The APSC can provide agencies extra candidate information upon request. Such as selection panel interview notes, candidate assessments, interview videos and referee reports.
Foundations and fundamentals training
All participants, including those with previous Commonwealth public sector experience, complete training as part of the traineeship. This covers topics that are fundamental to working in digital in government. It provides participants with the foundations they need to be job-ready, so they can contribute and succeed in their roles.
The APSC delivers this training every 2 months to support the schedule for on-boarding new recruits. Extra sessions can be available for agencies on-boarding 10 or more trainees at a time.
The APSC works with agencies to tailor the training, to make sure it meets their needs. It does not replace agency-specific induction training.
Program support system
The program offers additional supports to assist participants to succeed in their roles and work towards their career goals. This includes learning support from:
- The Digital Traineeship Program team, who:
- work with trainees, their managers and mentors to develop an individual learning plan
- provide specialist support as required, to assist with any issues that may arise
- work with trainee managers and agency HR teams to identify career pathways
- help negotiate the balance between work and study, to meet trainee and agency needs
- work with trainee managers and agency HR teams to provide pastoral care as needed
- manage the pool of mentors and match trainees with mentors.
- Mentors, who are APS employees with appropriate skills, experience and personal attributes. Mentors are selected and trained by the Digital Traineeship Program from across the APS digital profession. They:
- help trainees develop their digital craft
- support trainees with networking and career development.
Being a mentor may be an appropriate development opportunity for agency staff. However, the program does not encourage assigning mentors from a participant’s agency. This may limit a mentor's ability to provide impartial advice and support.
If agencies pursue this option, they must show how it aligns with the program's guidelines. In this case, the mentor must not be in the same direct work as the trainee. They must meet the same requirements as the program's mentors, including regular reporting.
Participating agency responsibilities
Agencies participating in the Digital Traineeship Program will:
- provide suitable managers to direct work and support trainees, in partnership with mentors
- provide equipment, resources and agency-specific on-boarding and induction training
- arrange pay at the trainee’s APS classification, determined by the assessment process
- be willing to trial flexible work arrangements
- manage the contract for delivering prescribed training, where relevant.
Agencies participating in the Digital Traineeship Program must offer trainees ongoing positions that:
- provide opportunities to do valuable work and apply skills learned during training
- support balance with paid study time.
Flexible work arrangements
The Digital Traineeship Program aims to reach people outside major centres. That is, outside Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne.
Participating agencies are not required to provide flexible work arrangements to program participants. But being open to flexible work arrangements helps attract and keep talent. Flexible work arrangements include:
- working from home, including working remotely from any location across Australia
- flexible work hours, such as part-time or flexible hours to allow for caring and study.
Agencies will discuss working arrangements and employment terms with participants and their mentors.
Participants undertake prescribed training towards, or equivalent to, a Certificate IV or Diploma in a digital field. This may include training provided by the agency in-house. Prescribed training is determined on a case-by-case basis considering the needs of participants and agencies. Agencies will discuss and agree on prescribed training with each participant prior to their engagement.
Agencies must support participants to undertake prescribed training towards, or equivalent to, a Certificate IV or Diploma in a digital field. This is determined on a case-by-case basis considering the needs of the agency and participant. It is discussed and agreed with each participant prior to their engagement.
Agencies can elect to provide training in-house, as long as it is equivalent to a Certificate IV or Diploma in a digital field and meets the program's guidelines.
The agency, participant and Digital Traineeship Program team must agree on prescribed training.
The program includes a range of curated online learning activities. Learning plans specify trainees must complete at least 10 Digital Profession events. These are to relate to their field of study.
Supporting participants who work remotely
Managers and mentors provide dedicated support to participants who work remotely. They can also access support through their virtual networks. The aim is to maintain their engagement and connection to their agency and work.
Induction will cover effective practices for working remotely to prepare affected participants. The program offers similar training and resources for managers if needed.
Agencies pay for travel costs of remote staff to attend prescribed training. This includes accommodation costs.
Agencies can access the core program at a total cost of approximately $8,800. This covers all aspects of the program's service offer outlined above. It does not include training or study towards a qualification.
Training and qualifications
Agencies determine prescribed training and study arrangements on a case-by-case basis. This offers flexibility to meet the varying needs and circumstances of each agency.
Agencies determine training and study options in agreement with each participant and the Digital Traineeship Program team. Agreed options must align with the program's guidelines. In some cases, where an agreed qualification takes longer than 12 months to complete, participants will continue their studies beyond the end of the program.
Agencies are responsible for supporting participants with prescribed training and study. This includes sourcing the agreed training or study and paying any associated costs. In some cases, this may involve managing contracts with Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).
Sign your agency up to the Digital Traineeship Program
Express your interest in signing your agency up to the Digital Traineeship Program. A member of the APSC’s Digital Traineeship Program team will contact you to discuss further.
Please contact the team at the APSC at email@example.com if you have any questions about the Digital Traineeship Program.