What it does: Oversees Australia’s education systems
Staff stats: Around 1425
The good bits: Engaging work, friendly colleagues
The not so good bits: Bureaucratic procedures
Hiring grads with degrees in: all degree disciplines
In its current iteration, the Department of Education has been around since late 2014. (Its predecessors were variously called the Department of Education and Science/Youth Affairs/Employment/Workplace Relations and more recently the Department of Education and Training.)
As its name suggests, the Department is responsible for the policies and programs that facilitate Australians accessing education. Ideally, education that is both high quality and affordable. Its broad remit covers childcare, early childhood, primary schools, high schools, international schools and universities. Department staff can find themselves doing anything from evaluating the educational services provided to migrants, to approving research grants for academics, to devising strategies to attract and retain more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers in the nation’s high schools.
The Department is headed up by a Secretary who reports to the Minister for Education. It’s divided into four clusters, headed up deputy (or associate) secretaries. These are: Corporate Strategy; Early Childhood and Childcare; Schools and Youth and Higher Education, Research and International.
Like many employers, the Department of Education is enthusiastic about diversity and inclusion. An important part of our commitment to reconciliation is improving employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the use of the Affirmative Measures – Indigenous recruitment process. People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, mature-age people, people with disability, and other job seekers regardless of their sex, sexuality or gender identity are encouraged to apply.
Our cultural traits and behaviours program ensures that the way we go about our work is collaborative and inclusive – to ultimately position us with the right capability, passion and pride to make a difference in delivering education outcomes that allows all Australians to thrive.
The Department supports flexible work arrangements and we have six employee-led networks – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employee Network, Pride Network (LGBTIQ), Ability Network for people with disability and caring responsibilities, Women’s Network, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Network, and Wisdom Network for mature-age employees. We are members of Diversity Council Australia, Australian Network on Disability and Pride in Diversity.
The importance to both individuals and the wider society of maintaining well-functioning educational institutions is self-evident. As a Department staffer, you’ll be helping both Australians and Australia (a small population, a high-wage nation that needs to remain “agile and innovative”) prosper.
The Graduate Fundraising Committee also organises regular fundraising activities and charity events.
Those with any degree are welcome to apply for the Department’s graduate program.
The Department looks for “enthusiastic and motivated” grads. Ones who are passionate about education and who “want to make a difference to the lives of all Australians”. You’ll also need to be prepared to move to Canberra, where the Department is based.
The 10-month grad program, which runs from February to December, has four pathways –Legal, Human Resources, Data and Generalist. See the department’s website for further information about the career pathways at education.gov.au.
The recruitment process is standardised and involves the following stages. An online application, which will involve uploading a cover letter, CV and academic transcript. A psychometric and cognitive online assessment. If you make the shortlist, you’ll then be invited to do a virtual interview. The final hurdle is attending the assessment centre. If that goes well and your references check out you will receive an offer (if you happen to be disabled or Indigenous, you’ll get a leg-up from the Department’s “affirmative measures selection processes” and Recruitability scheme)
The generalist grad program revolves around “diverse work placements” that help grads understand the “core business” of the Department. This allows them to “find the type of work that best suits [their] skills and interests”. While undertaking the program, you will get lots of on-the-job experience, receive formal training, participate in the APS Graduate Development Program plus opportunities to attend department-specific professional development. You’ll be allocated a buddy and also receive support from the ‘Entry-Level Programs team’ and your supervisors.
The Department offers “excellent employment conditions with competitive remuneration, superannuation and employee entitlements”. Grads start at APS3 level ($63,978) and get bumped up to APS4 level ($69,596 - $74,429) after completing the program. To move into six-figure territory you’ll need to make it to the executive and senior executive levels. Department staff have access to a wide range of allowances and many different forms of leave.
You should emerge from the program as a strategic and innovative thinker with a comprehensive understanding of how government policies are developed. You should also have developed solid communication skills and a high level of cultural awareness. That kind of skill set will prove useful whether you wish to remain in the (federal or state) public service or move into the private sector.
The Department promises grads “a supportive work environment that recognises and appreciates your lifestyle” as well as “a workplace culture that is supportive, flexible and rewarding”. If you're the type that values making a social contribution, job security, work-life balance, understanding managers and friendly co-workers, you should thrive at the Department of Education.
"The Department of Education and Training is responsible for national policies and programs that help Australians access quality and affordable early childcare and childhood education, school education, higher education, international education and research.
Workplace diversity and inclusion is vitally important in creating a productive and harmonious environment for people to work. The department recognises and embraces the diversity that each employee brings to the workplace, creating an environment of trust, mutual respect and appreciation.
We work to increase the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and employees with disability. We also focus on other diversity groups on the basis of: race, gender identity, sexual orientation, intersex status, language, cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Many of our policies and programs celebrate diversity and tackle discrimination and bullying, and we continue to build on these initiatives through our Diversity Champion, Indigenous Champion, Indigenous Leader, Employee Support Officers (ESO) and Employee Networks.
As a graduate in our department, we will offer you: