What it does: Serves the Victorian public
Staff stats: Around 50,000
The good bits: Professional development opportunities
The not so good bits: Not a lot of young people
The Victorian Public Service (VPS) came into being around 1855. (At the same time Queen Victoria signed off on representative government for the colony of Victoria.) Over the next century, there was a range of Royal Commissions and Acts aimed at creating a more efficient and effective public service for Victorians. The VPS’s heyday was arguably the Keynesian post-WWII period when it developed and owned most of the State’s major infrastructure.
The neoliberal Nineties, especially during the Kennet era, saw a winding back of the role of the Victorian Public Service. Reforms such as the following were introduced:
The pendulum has swung back slightly since the turn of the Millennium. The VPS is now seen as having an important role to play in both balancing “social, economic and environmental needs” and partnering with the private sector (via Partnerships Victoria) to deliver public infrastructure.
Part of the culture at the VPS is “respecting the diversity and backgrounds of each employee”. The workforce is made up of individuals “from all walks of life”. Plus, “managers are trained to listen to the needs of employees and provide the support that is relevant to their career goals and personal values”.
The VPS is committed to “increasing the employment of people with a disability and actively promoting awareness and understanding among government employers to create inclusive and diverse work environments”, including providing a Disability Pathway in its grad program The VPS is also keen to recruit more Indigenous Australians. It has a special ‘Aboriginal Pathway’ into its grad program.
If you have responsibilities outside of work, the VPS offers “part-time work, job sharing, home-based work and paid additional annual leave work”. There is also “additional support and employee benefits” for those caring for young children or elderly parents.
As a part of VPS, you’ll be “working towards one common goal - a positive future for all Victorians”. One of the less tangible benefits of a public-sector position is “knowing that the work [you] do help people”. In this case, that means “contributing to making Victoria a stronger, more caring and innovative State”.
To be eligible for the VPS’s Graduate Recruitment and Development Scheme (GRADS, geddit?) you’ll need to be a “high potential tertiary graduate”. You’ll also need to be an Australian or New Zealand citizen or permanent resident and consent to undergo a Police Criminal Records Check.
Applicants are assessed on how well they meet the following criteria: abstract ability; accountability and initiative; flexibility; teamwork; values; verbal and written communication.
The VPS grad program has a base of three streams; but sometimes four or five, depending on the year you apply. The Generalist stream is open to grads from all disciplines. The Accounting and Finance stream is restricted to those who’ve majored in (or otherwise done a lot of study of) accounting and finance. The Economist stream is restricted to those who’ve majored in (or otherwise done a lot of study of) economics or econometrics.
The recruitment process begins with an online application. Here you’ll need to indicate your stream preference and demonstrate you meet the selection criteria. The next stage is online reasoning assessments that test your verbal, numeric and abstract reasoning. Next up is a half-day session at an assessment centre. Here you will take place in a group exercise, a work sample exercise and a behavioural interview.
If all that goes well, you will be placed in the ‘grads talent pool’ for consideration for various VPS departments and agencies. If a department or agency is interested in you, it will provide you with information about the role on offer. If you’re interested in it, you’ll be invited you to come in for a 30-60 minute face-to-face interview. If you clear that final hurdle, you will receive a verbal offer, which will soon be followed by a written one if you accept the position.
Bear in mind that applicants who choose to apply to the program via the Disability pathway or the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander pathway can access support from the recruitment team at all stages of the process, so it’s worth connecting with the recruiters for a confidential discussion.
If you do get into the grad program you’ll take part in a year-long development program. This will allow you to “learn about the public service and contribute to a variety of initiatives”. In most cases, you will rotate through three department or agencies. You’ll complete a “comprehensive range of formal learning and development modules”. You’ll also be given “an opportunity to devote specific time to [your] own professional development in addition to working on department/agency projects and initiatives”.
The VPS tries to “offer competitive salaries to attract the best people to work for us”. Grads start on more than $57,000 (plus super), which gets bumped up to $68,884 upon successful completion of the program. Keep in mind working in the public sector will allow you to use your pre-tax income to top up your super, pay a novated lease or take out discounted private health insurance. The VPS also offers generous leave provisions with access to long service leave, paid parental leave and special leave.
Arguably to a greater degree than its counterparts elsewhere in Australia, the VPS “wants to be an employer that is attractive to people who are commencing their career, as well as to graduates and people transferring from the private sector”.
While it usually can’t compete on salaries with the private sector, it can offer lots of learning and development opportunities and a transparent career path. As a VPS staffer, you can expect “individual training and development opportunities to help you gain qualifications and skills that are portable and develop your talents”. This can involve “study for formal qualifications”, “attending conferences and seminars to keep up to date with all the latest developments” or studying at the Australia and New Zealand School of Government, which “offers programs to emerging public sector leaders”.
After you’ve accrued the necessary training and experience, you can progress through the VPS grades. You’ll discuss your career with your manager at least once a year. During these conversations, you and your manager will “agree on your progression criteria… so you'll always know what you need to achieve to move to the next stage of your career”.
Whether or not you want to stay there long-term, the VPS is a fine place to start your career. It offers job security, plenty of opportunities for professional development, supportive managers, friendly colleagues, an attractive work-life balance and the satisfaction that comes with helping make the world a better place.
The Victorian Government provides a diverse range of services to the people of Victoria – schools, hospitals, transport, parks, police, tourism, the environment and more.
There are so many career opportunities within the Victorian Government. If you are just starting out, your perfect career may be much more than you were expecting.
A business graduate could be the perfect candidate for auditing or policymaking. Law and engineering graduates have skills that are often sought on infrastructure projects. Science graduates may lend their data analysis skills to solving problems impacting Victorians in a range of areas. An arts degree provides a broad range of skills, including conceptual skills, writing, and research that are needed across the public service. There are endless opportunities for every degree within the Victorian Government.
The Victorian Government graduate program is a year-long opportunity to experience public service, grow your potential and gain new skills.
It includes 3 rotations in different departments. You'll contribute to important work and make connections across government. Along the way, you'll develop your talents and find new passions.
Our structured learning and development journey ensure graduates continue to develop a mix of professional and technical skills to support a growing career. We also provide plenty of informal opportunities to network and make friends.
Best of all, there’s a permanent job for all our graduates at the end of the program.
This is your opportunity to show your commitment to improving the lives of Victorians. We value the breadth, resilience and flexibility our graduates bring.
To demonstrate your creativity and curiosity. Show your adaptability and drive for continuous learning. Practise your emotional intelligence and openness to experience.
We encourage you to share what makes you unique. If you want the satisfaction of working for all Victorians, you'll be a good fit.
Work in a place where you can live our shared values, including integrity, respect and human rights.