Q As a chartered occupational psychologist with considerable public sector experience, I have enjoyed consulting for a number of local councils on a variety of transformation programmes. I’m keen to keep this up, but am concerned the government’s ‘streamlining’ plan will gradually make this more difficult. Would it be more sensible for me to concentrate on working as an interim in the private sector instead?
A Working within the ever-changing public sector offers some wide-ranging opportunities for candidates seeking interim and permanent posts.
The changes are likely to continue into next year, with legislation to restructure councils likely to go through parliament. Although the government has still not agreed a firm deal between central and local government, this wholesale restructuring will inevitably result in a massive spend on consultants and interims.
In the wake of the Gershon review, and with a commitment to streamline departments, public sector managers are being urged to dramatically cut costs while still increasing efficiency. This means project resourcing becomes an issue, as the projects are sizeable, but headcount must appear low.
There is, therefore, a huge demand for effective project management in the public sector. The role of an interim manager, as opposed to the management consultant, is fast becoming a cost-efficient alternative and one that is beginning to grow exponentially in line with private sector interim usage.
Many of our clients, both in the public and private sectors, recognise interim management not as a fundamentally low-cost option, but as a results-driven, project-based solution that is better value than classic management consultancy.
There is much talk about public sector cost-cutting as well as the widening public sector wage gap. However, growth in public sector pay outstrips that of the private sector, and interim activity in the public sector is set to grow as it has in the private sector.
It is not so much a question of job security between public or private as a choice between working in a permanent role, being a consultant or interim manager. Rather than being a financial drain to the public sector, interim management is a practical cost solution to government departments’ current dilemma. I would advise that staying in the public sector is a perfectly valid career option.
By Alex Raubitschek, managing director, Ortus