Image problem the key to public sector skills gap

Jobseekers’
willingness to work for public sector employers may be wrecked by long-standing
image problems, new research has warned.

Ninety
per cent of jobseekers surveyed by Totaljobs.com would consider applying for a
public sector post. However, the research identified a number of factors that
might cause them to look elsewhere.

Eighty-two
per cent of respondents said the public sector was bureaucratic, 66 per cent
regard it as an ungenerous employer and 50 per cent were concerned about
limited job prospects. A further 65 per cent stated that public sector
employers did not have a modern outlook.

Comparisons
with private businesses also proved worrying. Only 15 per cent of those
surveyed thought public bodies paid high salaries, compared with 69 per cent
who believed the private sector had deeper pockets. Forty-four per cent of
jobseekers also felt that private sector employers were more effective at
promoting the benefits of working for them, while 22 per cent favoured the
public sector.

 In addition, despite the fact that 43 per
cent of the UK’s workforce now uses the internet to look for job opportunities,
only 10 per cent of respondents thought public sector organisations were good
at promoting their vacancies online.

"Although
the prospect of working for public sector organisations appeals to most
jobseekers, they can be easily persuaded to look elsewhere," said Keith
Robinson, commercial director at Totaljobs.com. "The public sector needs
to address its long-standing image problems if it wants to attract talented and
ambitious employees."

However,
the survey did contain some good news for the public sector. Seventy per cent
of respondents believed its employers looked after their staff, while 48 per
cent favoured its flexible working hours, compared to 31 per cent who preferred
the private sector’s nine-to-five routine.

"The
perception that public bodies provide employees with a better work-life balance
could help them make up lost ground, but much more needs to be done,"
Robinson said.

By Quentin Reade

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