Workforce demographic

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The average age of the Public Service workforce as at 30 June 2020 was 44.2 years. The average age of the workforce has been trending down slightly from a peak in 2015-16 of 44.8 years. Before then the workforce had been aging steadily, with the average age in 2000 being 40.8 years.

The proportion of the Public Service workforce that is 55 years or older has increased over the last 19 years, from 10.3% in 2000 to 23.8% in 2020. This broadly reflects what happened in the overall New Zealand labour force where the proportion of workers aged 55 years and over went from around 12% to 24% over the same period. The trend towards a younger and more ethnically diverse Public Service is continuing with the average age in the Public Service now 44.2 years. Public servants under the age of 35 now make up 29% of the workforce, compared with 24% in 2012.

However, the proportion of the Public Service workforce that is 55 years or older has been relatively unchanged since 2016, suggesting that the ageing of the workforce has slowed. Contributing to this is the relatively large increase in in the Public Service workforce over the past few years. New recruits are generally younger than the existing workforce. The average age of those recruited into Public Service departments in the year to 30 June 2020 was 37 years, compared to 46 years for the existing workforce.

The following graph shows that for most occupational groups the average age has increased over the past decade. However, the rate of the increase has slowed over the past few years, with Policy Analysts and Inspectors and Regulatory Officers getting younger on average. Pacific and Asian employees have a younger age profile than European staff and this may contribute to greater diversity in the Public Service in coming years.

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