Skills exodus could leave public inconvenienced

45% of public sector workers are heading for the door, and talented people are hardly queuing up to replace them. So are public services heading down the toilet?

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Things could be about to get troublesome in the public sector: according to Hays recruitment, almost half of staff in the sector are either facing redundancy or actively seeking to jump ship to the private sector (or both, presumably). Meanwhile all those pesky budget cuts have left their employers struggling to find enough willing skilled workers to plug the gaps...

This may not come as a complete surprise. But just because the damage was easy to predict, it’s no less disconcerting: since the Government started swinging its scythe, one in five public sector organisations think it has got is harder to attract skilled job candidates. And over 80% of employers say uncertainty around job security is the primary factor stopping people looking for work in the sector, followed by changes to benefits (51%) and scrutiny over pay (39%).

As Hays points out, the result may well be a severe skills gap, which will affect the sector’s ability to deliver frontline services. According to Hays, 60% of employers believe voluntary redundancy and early retirement schemes are resulting in the loss of the best talent, while over 60% of staff say they fear the sector will be unable to attract the staff needed to manage the change it faces. Indeed, when you do steer your ship onto rocks, you want people on board who’ll be able to get you back off again while patching up the damage before the whole thing sinks.

So what can be done? Hays reckons public sector workers are feeling ‘demotivated, devalued and stuck in less challenging careers’, and argues that removing the stigma around public-sector jobs is essential. Employers are in agreement: 70% say they need to review what pay and career development they can offer jobseekers to appear more desirable. There’s only problem: where’s the money’s going to come from???

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