High labour demand and skills shortages could frustrate the national audit office's efforts to upscale its work auditing government agencies and departments, the integrity agency says.
The Australian National Audit Office released a workforce plan last week naming the tight labour market as one of the risks it faced in trying to increase its audit work.
Demand for skilled workers outstripped supply, and the audit office also faced a high rate of employee mobility in the labour market, as it moved to increase its auditing of federal agencies, the agency said.
The office, which independently audits government departments and agencies on matters of integrity and waste, has responded to the labour market pressures with a strategy to build its workforce and train staff.
It said it would improve opportunities in its graduate program, design "a contemporary candidate experience" for job applicants, and create entry pathways for people with the right skills by supporting them in pursuing audit qualifications.
It would also build its workforce by introducing an ANAO Academy, offering leadership development programs and coaching, and improving its digital learning opportunities for staff.
The audit office, which gained national attention with reports revealing the "sports rorts" and "commuter car park rorts" sagas, plans to grow its workload monitoring the performance of federal agencies.
Recent portfolio budget statements show the audit office expects to increase its average staffing level from 335 to 379 public servants this year, while projecting it will lift the number of performance audits it conducts from 40 in 2021-22 to 48 by 2024-25.
In its workforce plan, Auditor-General Grant Hehir said the agency would invest in its staff and support their development.
"The ANAO is a professional organisation of curious and critical thinkers, with strong analytical capabilities who act with the highest integrity," he said.
"Over the next four years, this plan will drive how we build the ANAO's capability for the audit industry of the future."
Among the critical skills it would seek in candidates were critical and creative thinking, use of technology to collect and analyse data, ability to analyse complex problems and clearly communicate findings, and adaptability.
"The auditor of the future should be technologically sound with excellent project management skills, the ability to adapt to change, adept at telling their audit narrative and aware of the technological development that can help them do their job," the new plan says.
The agency is the latest in the public service to raise the impact of skills shortages as demand for labour makes recruitment harder for Commonwealth employers.
Recruitment firms have said there are shortages for all agencies across most job types, while the public service commission said agencies are reporting difficulty filling roles particularly in cyber security, data analyst and business intelligence developer positions. New jobs figures last week confirmed labour shortages for employers, showing the official unemployment rate had dropped to 3.5 per cent, the lowest since since August 1974.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.