I have recently been applying for positions within the Victorian Public Service.
Their employment framework is called the Jobs and Skills Exchange. A job can be advertised externally, but only after an internal search has failed to find a suitable candidate. In some cases, it can be advertised internally and externally at the same time.
Although I’ve submitted strong applications with more than enough skills, experience and capability (over my 30-year career, I have worked within every sphere of business), in some cases I have not even been considered for interview because an existing staff member has also applied for the position.
I believe that it is a discriminatory framework that disadvantages jobseekers outside government. It effectively excludes candidates from consideration who may well be better-qualified than internal staff. Why is the system built this way?
This sounds really frustrating, and I’m sorry that you feel shut out of the Victorian Public Service. It would be dispiriting to have the desire and ability to make a valuable contribution to a sector, only to find that some or all of the paths in are blocked.
As I’ve mentioned to you in follow-up emails, the information I’ve gathered from experts in the area gives an idea of why the system was changed to be this way, but may not help you gain access to jobs in the public service. I should say before I go on that I really appreciate your willingness to go ahead with publication of your question, nonetheless, in the hope that it can (in your own words) “start a broader conversation about the Jobs and Skill Exchange”.
I spoke with Professor Helen Dickinson from the Public Service Research Group at the University of New South Wales, as well as Robert Laird, an industrial officer from the Community and Public Sector Union, about the system.
Professor Dickinson told me that the system, introduced in 2019, was brought in to allow the workforce to be more agile and to help build career paths.
The Victorian Public Service had found that it has low numbers of people moving between different parts of the public sector and that they ended up losing people who had to move outside it to get new skills and build their career.
She says this was a way of filling roles with people who have already been trained and developed in the public service and helping them gain new skills. It also helped save money by as reducing use of labour hire and consultants.
Laird mentioned similar advantages of the revised system. The Jobs and Skills Exchange was developed to ensure the existing workforce would get the first opportunity to apply for internal positions.
The model was designed to ensure the public service could be mobile and agile to meet changing government priorities. Short courses are offered to help employees shift between different streams of public service work. This was considered to be a more efficient method than redeployment and redundancy.
Laird said one of the main reasons for the change was that it allowed the government to spend fewer resources on expensive consultants.
As I mentioned earlier, this gives a sense of why the Jobs and Skills Exchange now works this way, but doesn’t address the question of discrimination. As someone with no legal training, I won’t attempt to judge whether the program is discriminatory. It does seem, whether deliberately or not, to exclude people like you, however. And as you’ve said yourself, that’s a problem worthy of further discussion.
While that discussion continues, I genuinely hope you find a role you love.
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