Updating Results

Students flock to the public service for stability

Jaymes Carr

Nine federal organisations feature in the top 20 of GradAustralia's Top 100 Graduate Employers: from the CSIRO to ASIO, find out who else made the list.

The results of the GradAustralia Top 100 Graduate Employers survey paint a picture of increasing enthusiasm among today’s graduates for careers in Australia’s public service.

Of the top twenty places on the list, almost half (nine) were taken by federal departments or agencies. They were, in order, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) (#5); the Department of Education and Training (#6); the Department of Social Services (#11); the Australian Secret Intelligence Services (ASIS) (#13); the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) (#14); the Department of Health (#15); the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (#16); the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (#17); and the Australian Defence Force (#20).

This proliferation of high-ranking government employers in the Top 100 list reflects two major trends that also emerged in other parts of the survey.  

Government jobs still attract the best and brightest

For the second year in a row, two government agencies appeared in the top ten: the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Department of Education and Training. The Department of Social Services, previously number ten, now occupies the eleventh spot.

This is something of a victory for the federal government, which has spent much of the past half-decade making a concerted effort to win over high-achieving graduates. For example, in 2015, it overhauled its online job application process, creating a centralised portal for graduates of all disciplines. In the 2018 financial year, it's spending on advertising campaigns jumped by 50 per cent to $157 million, with $30 million dedicated to the Department of Defence’s recruitment initiatives.

Of course, the popularity of government jobs is not only a result of savvy promotion. The dominance of, say, the CSIRO may have just as much to do with its strong reputation for connecting employees to federal funding in a way that has resulted in countless innovations, from Wi-Fi and polymer banknotes to gene shears and Aerogard.

Students are drawn to the government’s promise of meaningful work

In a bid to lure graduates away from private sector careers, federal agencies have begun to pitch themselves as offering students an opportunity to make a meaningful difference to society. ‘The Department of Social Services offers a challenging and meaningful career at the heart of the Australian Government's social policy agenda,’ says the Department’s graduate recruitment website. ‘It’s more than just a job.’

Such marketing aims to meet the same priorities expressed by students who participated in GradAustralia’s Top 100 Survey. For instance,  the Top 100 Survey found that 79 per cent of graduates consider it ‘important’ that they join an employer with a diverse workforce; 59 per cent insist that they wouldn’t accept high pay to work for a company with a bad image; and 74 per cent say that, when it comes to their graduate career, personal fulfilment is more important than earning lots of money.

‘The Federal Government is in a unique position to hire graduates into roles where they can have a significant impact on the Australian community,' says Geoff Adams, co-founder of GradAustralia. 'For example, when graduates are given the opportunity to work on policies designed to improve secondary education, the work they do becomes inherently meaningful. The prospect of such work is hugely appealing to the students we’ve surveyed.’

The definitive list of the Top 100 Graduate Employers can be found on the GradAustralia website. 50,000 books were distributed to university students around Australia – the Top 100 Guide includes 400 pages of comprehensive employer profiles, sector information, insider tips on how to get hired as well as real-life stories from graduates on the job.

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