What it does: Oversees Australia’s education systems
Staff stats: Around 1900
The good bits: Engaging work, friendly colleagues
The not so good bits: Bureaucratic procedures
The Department of Education and Training story
In its current iteration, the Department of Education and Training has been around since late 2014. (Its predecessors were variously called the Department of Education and Science/Youth Affairs/Employment/Workplace Relations.)
As its name suggests, the Department is responsible for the policies and programs that facilitate Australians accessing education and training. Ideally, education and training that is both high quality and affordable. Its broad remit covers pre-schools, primary schools, high schools, international schools and universities, as well as TAFEs and private colleges offering vocational training.
Department staff can find themselves doing anything from evaluating the educational services provided to migrants, to approving research grants for academics, to devising strategies to attract and retain more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers in the nation’s high schools.
The Department is headed up by a Secretary who reports to the Minister for Education and Training. It’s divided into six divisions, headed up deputy (or associate) secretaries. These are: Corporate Strategy; Child Care Reform Implementation; Early Childhood and Child Care; Schools and Youth; Higher Education, Research and International, as well as Skills and Training.
Like most government employers, the Department is enthusiastic about diversity. It supports reconciliation and encourages job applications from Indigenous Australians. It also goes out of its way to recruit “people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, mature-age people and people with disability”.
The current workforce skews heavily female (68 per cent of staff) and contains an impressive proportion of Indigenous, disabled, mature-age and non-English-speaking-background staff.
The Department has a Diversity Committee. It has also partnered with Diversity Council of Australia, Australian Network on Disability and (LGBTI organisation) Pride in Diversity. The Department has been trying to create an even more inclusive workplace by providing unconscious-bias-awareness training, offering flexible working arrangements, encouraging candidates who “identify across a number of diverse groups” to apply for positions and supporting employee networks for staff who are disabled, LGBTI, Indigenous and female.
The importance to both individuals and the wider society of maintaining well-functioning educational and training institutions is self-evident. As a Department staffer, you’ll be helping both Australians and Australia (a small population, high-wage nation that needs to remain “agile and innovative”) prosper.
Department staff also organise regular fundraising activities and charity events.
The recruitment process
Those with any degree are welcome to apply for the Department’s graduate program.
The Department looks for “enthusiastic and motivated” grads. Ones who are passionate about education and who “want to make a difference to the lives of all Australians”. You’ll also need to be prepared to move to Canberra, where the Department is based.
The 10-month grad program, which runs from February to December, has three streams – ICT, Data Analytics and Generalist. If you want to apply for the first two of those streams, it will be helpful to have a background in one or more of the following disciplines:
- Computer science
- Software engineering
Those who go into the generalist stream typically have a background in one or more of the following disciplines:
- Commerce/ Accounting/Business
- Political Science
The recruitment process is standardised and involves the following stages. An online application, which will involve uploading a cover letter, CV and academic transcript. An abstract reasoning cognitive test. If you make the shortlist, you’ll then be invited to do a Skype interview and complete an online written assessment. The final hurdle is a Values Inventory Test. If that goes well and your references check out you will receive an offer. (If you happen to be disabled or Indigenous, you’ll get a leg-up from the Department’s “affirmative measures selection processes”.)
The grad program revolves around “diverse work placements” that help grads understand the “core business” of the Department. This allows them to “find the type of work that best suits [their] skills and interests”. While undertaking the program, you will get lots of on-the-job experience, receive formal training, participate in Department-wide, graduate-specific professional development activities and attend Australian Public Service Commission Events, as well as Senate Estimates and Question Time when the Federal Parliament is sitting. You’ll be allocated a buddy and also receive support from the ‘Entry-Level Programs team’ and your supervisors.
The Department offers “excellent employment conditions with competitive remuneration, superannuation and employee entitlements”. Grads start at APS3 level ($60,885 – $63,417) and get bumped up to APS4 level ($66,230 - $70,831) after completing the program. To move into six-figure territory you’ll need to make it to the executive level. If you reach the senior executive ranks you can expect a salary ranging from $220,000 - $770,000.
Department staff have access to a wide range of allowances and many different forms of leave.
You should emerge from the program as a strategic and innovative thinker with a comprehensive understanding of how government policies are developed. You should also have developed solid communication and presentation skills and high level of cultural awareness. That kind of skill set will prove useful whether you wish to remain in the (federal or state) public service or move into the private sector.
The vibe of the place
The Department promises grads “a supporting work environment that recognises and appreciates your lifestyle” as well as “a workplace culture that is supportive, flexible and rewarding”. If you're the type that values making a social contribution, job security, work-life balance, understanding managers and friendly co-workers, you should thrive at the Department of Education and Training.
Star Rating: 3.9 stars
From the Employer:
"The Department of Education and Training is responsible for national policies and programs that help Australians access quality and affordable early child care and childhood education, school education, higher education, vocational education and training, international education and research.
Workplace diversity and inclusion is vitally important in creating a productive and harmonious environment for people to work. The department recognises and embraces the diversity that each employee brings to the workplace, creating an environment of trust, mutual respect and appreciation.
We work to increase the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and employees with disability. We also focus on other diversity groups on the basis of: race, gender identity, sexual orientation, intersex status, language, cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Many of our policies and programs celebrate diversity and tackle discrimination and bullying, and we continue to build on these initiatives through our Diversity Champion, Indigenous Champion, Indigenous Leader, Employee Support Officers (ESO) and Employee Networks.
As a graduate in our department, we will offer you:
- An opportunity to grow your career through diverse experiences and exposure to our business and our people
- Access to professional development and on-the-job learning activities
- A workplace culture that is supportive, flexible and rewarding
- The opportunity to participate in multiple employee networks, peer support and mentoring relationships
- Excellent employment conditions with competitive remuneration, superannuation and employee entitlements
- A supporting work environment that recognises and appreciates your lifestyle
We are looking for graduates with ANY DEGREE that are ready to work in a fun and innovative organisation. We value your skills, knowledge and experience and are committed to supporting you Discover your Future!"