Public sector experience fails to impress employers

Public sector workers looking to enter the private sector face a serious challenge, according to research released today which suggests that employers attach a stigma to the skills and capabilities of public sector employees.

Of 348 employers surveyed by recruitment consultants Hays, 87% say that public sector employees lack sufficient market insight and are unrealistic about the differences between the two sectors.

Furthermore, 90% of firms do not believe that public sector experience is important when hiring, undermining the value of long-term, ex-public sector workers.

The findings, published ahead of Wednesday’s Comprehensive Spending Review, are likely to spark further fear among public sector workers whose jobs might be at risk as a result of cuts.

The survey also showed that nearly a quarter of public sector workers fear their background would put them at a distinct disadvantage if they switched sectors.

Although 60% believe a move to the private sector would enhance their career progression, more than two-thirds predict that they would need to develop new skills or gain qualifications in order to help them find the right job.

Workers also felt that salaries, benefits and career opportunities would be better in the private sector, but thought work/life balance would be worse.

Mark Staniland, managing director of Hays Career Transition Services, said: “It is inevitable that workers will need to be supported in this move, with practical advice and support so they are better placed to find a new role. We are working with the London Chamber of Commerce to develop our findings and provide support which bridges the gap between the public and private sectors.”

Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development added: “There’s so much media publicity about inefficiency and waste in the public sector that even quite reasonable people might feel nervous about recruiting people from a public sector background. I think it’s a problem of perception, I don’t think it’s to do with the inherent ability of public sector workers.”

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