Third of businesses 'not interested' in ex-public sector workers

A survey suggests businesses don't think ex-public sector workers will be well enough equipped to work in business. Which doesn't bode well, does it?

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
When the Chancellor first announced reforms to the public sector back in 2010, the hope was that the private sector would grow as the economy recovered, absorbing public sector workers who had lost their jobs. But with unemployment having reached a 17-year high last month, something’s gone wrong with that plan. And now research has found that a majority of private sector businesses are deeply sceptical about the idea of taking on ex-public sector workers. Which, when set against yesterday’s ONS figures which showed the pay gap between the public and private sectors has risen to 8.2%, is worrying.

The study, by Barclays, spoke to execs at 670 UK businesses ‘of all sizes’, and found that a third of businesses are ‘not at all interested’ in employing ex-public sector workers, while another 23% are ‘not very interested’. Hardly surprising, then, that when they were asked whether private sector job creation can make up for those public sector job losses, 71% didn’t think so (although admittedly that’s dropped from 76% last year). 88% added that initiatives by the Government to encourage businesses to create jobs had ‘come to nothing at all’. Ouch.

What’s putting employers off? While that pay figure might suggest employers simply can’t afford to meet ex-public sector workers’ expectations, it seems the problem’s more endemic. A third of execs said those coming out of the public sector are ‘not very well equipped’ to take on the pressures of life in business, while 18% added they ‘won’t be equipped at all’. How will they know if they've never tried? Although, encouragingly, opinion seems to be divided: another third said ex-civil servants will be ‘quite well equipped’. So that’s something.

Interestingly, the survey also looked at private sector firms’ plans to create jobs. Apparently, 58% are planning to create new jobs, with 82% planning to create middle management and skilled jobs, while 59% want to create unskilled jobs and 21% senior management roles. That compares favourably for those coming out of the public sector: one reason the ONS gave for the pay gap was that 40% of civil servants have a degree, compared with just a quarter of those in private businesses. So those seeking to make the transition to business should have plenty of appropriate jobs waiting for them over the next year. If they can get their foot in the door in the first place, that is.

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