Public sector still dominates interim market despite cuts

The public sector continued to employ by far the greatest proportion of interim managers last year, according to the largest annual study of the market, despite nearly halving the number it uses.

Government bodies used 20% of the estimated 7,000 interim managers in the UK, according to research by interim management consultancy Praxis. This easily outstrips the next busiest sector for interims, financial services, which used 13% of the total. But it is a drop from last year’s figure, which showed the public sector using one in three (35%) interim managers in the market.

Praxis said this drop could be partly attributed to the impact of the government’s Gershon efficiency review, which called for public sector bodies to end their over-reliance on external consultants.

Sanjay Gohil, head of public sector practice at Praxis, said: “There is still a strong demand, but interims are being used in a more prudent way. There is more emphasis on empowering colleagues and leaving some skills behind.”

But Nick Robeson, chairman of the Interim Management Association, thought the figures were “bizarre”.

“All the major [interim placement] firms are reporting a significant increase in public sector activity,” he said. “The delivery of Gershon has been a spectacular failure so far.”

The Praxis research also found that the number of HR departments taking on interims had risen from 10% in 2004 to 17% in 2005. Only finance departments used a greater proportion of interims at 24%.

Interims are commanding ever higher salaries, with their average daily rate up nearly £100 to £680 in 2005. The highest recorded pay for a day’s work was £3,000.

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