The Public Sector | Career Paths And Progression

The Public Sector | Career Paths And Progression

27 March 2020

In today’s candidate-led market, job seekers expect more from their employer and their role. A competitive salary is no longer enough - with our work and personal lives more blended than ever before, candidates are looking for rewarding roles that offer career progression, valuable benefits, variety in their work, and an engaging workplace culture. They want a job that offers fulfilment, flexibility and a positive work-life balance.

Professionals who are motivated by the desire to make a positive change in society might consider pursuing a career in the public sector. We take a look at the opportunities and benefits on offer.

What is the public sector?
As the name suggests, the public sector comprises organisations that are owned and/or controlled by the government rather than by private enterprises, and which provide public services for people living in the UK.

Over five million UK employees work in public sector jobs - accounting for 16.5% of people in paid work. The largest public sector employer is the NHS, which employs 1.64 million people, 30.6% of all public sector workers, closely followed by the education sector which employs 1.5 million people.

What areas of the public sector can I work in?

Common roles in the public sector include managers and administrators, front-line service providers, teachers and trainers. But these aren’t the only options - there are many other occupations within the public sector. Opportunities can be found in:

  • Social care
  • Healthcare
  • Law enforcement and security
  • Local government
  • Housing

As many occupations within the public sector cross over with roles in other sectors, you may be able to highlight a range of transferable skills and relevant work experience when applying for a job in the public sector, even if you haven’t worked in it before.

Why work in the public sector?

For many, the most valuable benefits of a career in the public sector include greater job stability, a varied workload, and improved work-life balance. And now may be a better time than ever to enter the public sector, with job satisfaction continuing to rise; a 2017 CIPD survey found that job satisfaction among UK employees in the public sector was at its highest levels since 2012.

We explore some of the benefits of working in the public sector.

  • A rewarding role which supports your community.
    A job in the public sector can allow you to make a difference to others - on a local or even national level. From front-line roles directly supporting those in need, to government roles helping to shape society for the better, many public sector workers take a lot of pride in the positive impact their work can have on others.

  • Flexibility.
    Even though many might think of start-up cultures when it comes to flexible working arrangements, flexible working hours are fairly common in many public sector occupations. The most popular flexible working option is part-time work, with 94% of public sector organisations offering this. This is followed by flexitime, which allows employees to have flexible start and finish times, and this can be especially valuable for working parents. Other flexible working arrangements common in the public sector include fixed term employment, career breaks and secondments, job sharing and remote working.

  • Training and development.
    Employees in the public sector are often required to improve their skills by participating in ongoing training - the opportunity to gain new skills and expertise will appeal to many ambitious and motivated professionals.

  • Salary and career progression.
    Salaries in the public sector can be surprisingly competitive, and often with fewer working hours than in the private sector. Clearly defined pay bands also provide clarity as to how you can progress to a more senior role and higher salary.

Working in the public sector offers a rewarding career path and great opportunities for progression. If you’re looking for a job in the public sector, get in touch and let our specialists help you take the next step in your career.