The ageing workforce of the Commonwealth government is becoming a serious problem, according to one public sector human resources expert, as young people abandon the bureaucracy.
The ranks of public servants aged 50 and over are growing while the service itself rapidly shrinks around them, according to the latest statistics, and young people are becoming a critically endangered species in federal government offices.
More than 30 per cent of federal public servants are now over 50, compared to 20 per cent in 2001.
Some agencies now have staffing levels of over 45s approaching 70 per cent while the proportion of workers aged under-25 has nearly halved in the past seven years.
At June 2015, the largest age group was employees aged 50 to 54 years, representing 14.7 per cent of all APS employees, the latest statistical bulletin from the ACT Government reports.
There was an increase recorded in the 55 to 59 age group, which grew from 9.9 per at June 2014 to 10.1 per cent a year later.
There was also an increase in the over-60s year age group, from 6.8 per cent to 6.9 per cent.
The Australian Electoral Commission and Veterans' Affairs had the oldest age profiles, with 70 per cent and 60 per cent aged over 45.
The Attorney-General's Department and Treasury looked sprightly in comparison with the lowest proportion of employees over 45 years of age, with just 26 and 30 per cent, respectively.
Representation of employees less than 25 years old was down again this year with just 3.8 of all employees in this age group, down from 6.2 per cent in 2008.
The 25 to 29 years age group was the fastest-shrinking cohort in the public service between June 2014 and June 2015.
The notes to the bulletin say the ageing workforce profile can be attributed to government policies.
"This growth reflects the impact of government policies that encourage older employees to remain in the workforce or to return after taking early retirement," the document states.
"It also reflects the removal from the PS Act of compulsory age-65 retirement in 1999.
"These initiatives have facilitated increased recruitment of older employees and reduced their separation rates."
But public sector workforce expert Linda Colley, of Central Queensland University said the ageing workforce profile and the increasing scarcity of young blood in the ranks was becoming a serious problem for the Australian Public Service's leaders.
"This is something they should be very worried about, that the APS is so far out of touch with the broader job market when it comes to opportunities," Dr Colley said.
"With the unemployment rate at the level that it is, you would think that they would be starting to think about what their role is in fixing youth unemployment."
Dr Colley said the raw data produced by the Public Service Public Service Commission suggest the APS was having big problems convincing young workers to stick around in their jobs.
"They're recruiting a lot of young people, the proportion of recruits in the under-30 bracket is huge but the turnover is really high," the academic said.
"So something is going on there, maybe they're not fitting into that older culture, it's hard to tell.
"But those questions should be asked; why these young people are leaving at triple the proportion of people in other age brackets."
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