Our extraordinary people are critical to our success and bring our excellent science to life. We have people working across the entire spectrum of research, science and commercialisation.
CSIRO female staff member wearing glasses and a navy shirt looking at an image of virtual reality, standing next to a male staff member wearing a tan jacket

To build agility and to manage risks and disruptions, such as COVID-19, our new ways of working stream is making sure our dispersed workforce and partners have the physical and virtual tools and platforms they need to collaborate effectively.

Staff numbers

Our extraordinary people are critical to our success and bring our excellent science to life. We have people working across the entire spectrum of research, science and commercialisation, as well as support services.

Our average staffing level is anticipated to remain within a narrow variation range over the strategy period. Based on indefinite, term and casual employees, at 30 June 2020 we had 5,319 people, a full-time equivalent of 5,065. Of these, 3,168 full-time equivalent or 63 per cent, were classified within the research function.

CSIRO average staffing level
Average staffing levels 2017–18 2018–19 2019–20 2020–21
Total average staffing levels full-time equivalent 5,094 5,239 5,293 5,250

Investment in future capability

Over the next four years, we will invest in our people, infrastructure and data capabilities aligned to our strategic pillars and build on existing activities that underpin our objectives and purpose.

Customer focus

Customer engagement skills

Build tactical skills, capability, and maturity with a focus on improved customer engagement, management of business relationships and opportunities, and delivery of customer value.

Customer experience program

The program continues to focus on improving the people, processes, and information technology systems that can impact a customer’s experience with us. This includes enhancement of the customer relationship management system to identify industry trends, and plan and implement industry engagement around the challenges.

Thriving people and teams

Equip people for a digital future

Connect and build digital awareness, mindsets and capability within CSIRO. Empower people to operate effectively and improve our ability to solve increasingly complex and adaptive problems.

Building innovation capability within and beyond CSIRO

Boost the early career researchers’ pipeline by growing the existing talent pool of approximately 1,000 students and 270 postdoctoral fellows and explore enhanced pathways between postgraduate studentships, postdoctoral fellows and the transition to more senior research roles.

CSIRO Workforce strategy

Establish and embed a strategy for our workforce to understand how to best access, develop and engage our people so we can achieve our purpose and vision.

New ways of working

Establish more flexible and agile ways of working by providing our people with improved remote working arrangements, enhanced digital tools and platforms, and modern (including virtual) laboratories and meeting spaces.

Collaborative networks

Digital Academy

Connect and build digital awareness, mindsets and capability within CSIRO and empower people to operate effectively and improve our ability to solve increasingly complex and adaptive problems.

Industry PhD

The industry-focused research training program is rolled out with university and industry partners to shape the future of industrial research training in Australia and improve our nation’s innovation capacity.

Switch 2.0

Provide a pathway that supports and improves our engagement and collaboration with local and international industry, government and research partners.

Solutions from science

Future Science Platforms

These multidisciplinary investments are reinventing existing industries, creating new industries for Australia and turning challenges into opportunities where innovative science and technology is breaking through seemingly impossible problems to improve Australia’s prosperity and sustainability. Our Future Science Platforms:

  • Active Integrated Matter
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Deep Earth Imaging
  • Digiscape
  • Environomics
  • Hydrogen Energy Systems
  • Precision Health
  • Probing Biosystems
  • Responsible Innovation
  • Space Technology
  • Synthetic Biology

Future Science and Technology

The CSIRO Future Science and Technology plan provides guidance on what science and technology capabilities we need to develop to maximise the changing world of science. These 10 key transformative cross-cutting capabilities will enable us to shift towards digital and delivery, and ensure we have leading science and technology:

  • Genomics
  • Synthetic biology
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Robotics, Internet of Things and Sensing
  • Simulation and modelling
  • Advanced materials
  • Engineering
  • Quantum technologies
  • Indigenous knowledge and science
  • Social science and user experience

ResearchPlus CERC Postdoctoral Fellowships

Our CSIRO Early Research Career (CERC) Postdoctoral Fellowship program is developing the next generation of leaders in the innovation system. These Fellowships enhance the person’s research capability so that they are better able to pursue a career in research at CSIRO or beyond. We provide a differentiated learning and development program with specially developed programs tailored to facilitate career development.

Managed Data Ecosystem

Build a data ecosystem based on the Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) data management principles, initially for CSIRO but as an exemplar for and with input from the national research community.

The Murchison Radio-astronomy observatory where the australian square kilometre array is being developed - the image depicts multiple rows of antennae

We are a key Australian partner in an international effort by 15 countries to build the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
We acknowledge the Wajarri Yamatji as the traditional owners of the Murchison Radio‑astronomy Observatory.

Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness

Increase the laboratory capacity and build related infrastructure for zoonotic diseases in order to enhance Australia’s disease preparedness and to help protect the general public from emerging infectious disease threats.

Australia’s first current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) facility

Build Australia’s first collaborative worldwide accredited laboratory for rapid and cost-effective protein production and scaling-up vaccine and drug candidates.

National Industry 4.0 Testlab

In collaboration with Swinburne University of Technology, establish the innovative Industry 4.0 Testlab to improve the competitiveness of Australian manufacturing industries through the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies and workforce transformation. The facility will be a pilot plant for 3D printing carbon fibre composite materials.

Square Kilometre Array (SKA)

Continue to design and develop the SKA radio telescope and deliver operations under contract as the SKA site and operations entity in Australia.


Deliver the technical upgrade of Pawsey’s supercomputer capability and meet the expected needs of Pawsey’s users over the next four years including for the Australian Square Kilometre Array and Murchison Widefield Array telescopes.

National benefit from global engagement

Global compliance, risk and cultural competencies

Strengthen capability in our people to operate in global markets, maintaining compliance with relevant Australian and international, polies, procedures and laws, to increase our people’s capability to engage with overseas markets, particularly across the Indonesia-Pacific region. We will share knowledge about working and engaging globally through communities of practice to reduce risk and improve operational effectiveness.