20 October 2022

The data we collect provides information about skills, career development and qualifications for public servants.


Just over half of respondents (51%) thought their skills were a good match for their job, but 17% needed more training to do their job well. About a third thought they were ready for more demanding work. This compares with the Stats NZ 2018 Working Life Survey, where 8% of workers were under-skilled, 57% were well matched, and 35% were over-skilled.

Survey of working life: 2018 — Stats NZ

2018 Census — Stats NZ

Career development

Over half (52%) of respondents reported being satisfied with their career development opportunities, and just over half (51%) were encouraged and supported to apply for developmental opportunities. In the last 12 months, 65% had done on the job training, courses, or other study. Most (62%) had access to the learning and development they need to do their job well.

Qualification levels

The 2018 Census results show that Public Service employees are more qualified than those in the private sector, state-owned enterprises and local government. However, they’re less qualified than employees in the state health and education sectors.

Public servants are becoming more qualified over time. The proportion with no post-school qualifications decreased from 37.7% in 2006 to 23.9% in 2018. The proportion with a degree or higher qualification increased from 40.5% to 55.7% over the same period. ‘Social, health and education workers’ in the Public Service in particular, had a strong improvement in qualification levels, though there were improvements in all occupational groups.


In Te Taunaki Public Service Census 2021, 62% of participants had a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Only 18% had no post-school qualification.

In the survey, those with higher qualifications tended to earn more. Those with an honours degree or higher were earning approximately $30,000 more than those with a school qualification.


Based on Te Taunaki, te reo Māori is the second most common language spoken in the Public Service (6%), after English (99%), followed by French (3%) and Samoan (2%). Twenty-six percent of Māori public servants can have a conversation about a lot of everyday things in te reo Māori.

Nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) said they could have a conversation about a lot of everyday things in at least one second language, with a total of 134 different languages covered.

Value of cultural capability

One in 2 respondents felt they were valued for the cultural expertise they bring to the job. Results varied by ethnicity, with Māori, Pacific and Asian respondents feeling more valued for their cultural expertise (around 60%) than Europeans who were lower at 46%.