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Public sector bosses not prepared for budget cuts

Public sector chief executives and managers believe they lack the skills needed to deliver services when funding cuts start impacting in 2010 and beyond, according to a survey, undertaken this month by Hays, the leading recruiting experts in public services.

Only 16% of managers said their organisations had the resources to manage a reduced budget in 2010, and even fewer junior staff (12%) thought that was the case. One fifth (20%) of junior staff don't consider their organisation has a clear strategy in place to cope with the challenge of offering more services with fewer resources.

More than two-thirds of managers (69%) and junior staff (66%) polled believe that the private sector will have "an increasing role" in helping the public sector meet its obligations. Over half of those polled (52%) agreed "completely" or "to some extent" that this was a positive development and that they should look to the private sector for leadership guidance. The majority of managers (63%) also agreed that they were now being encouraged to look outside the public sector for solutions to their management and delivery problems.

The Hays Public Services Leadership Survey, which was carried out across local and central government, the NHS and social housing sectors, found that whilst the majority (78%) of managers have a framework in place to identify competencies which will make them better leaders, over a third (35%) believe their leadership training programmes are ineffective or not available to them.

There was agreement over the qualities that a leader should possess: an ability to communicate, forward vision and integrity.

"We found that everyone knows what good leadership looks like, but there are gaps in the training needed to acquire those skills," said Andy Robling, Public Services Director at Hays.

Robling said that conversations with public sector chief executives revealed unease about how they would be able to balance cuts and delivering services in the year ahead.

"There is a level of challenge which understandably no one is prepared for. This will require an unprecedented level of change to ensure the delivery of services remains economically viable in the future. However, it is clear from our survey and conversations that the public sector funding crisis means a much broader acceptance of the need to change and to do things that might have seemed unpalatable five years ago.

"Within some UK regions across the public sector, for example, emergency services, local government and the NHS are looking at ways to share services and collaborate more effectively," said Robling.

"More could be done across the country in anticipation of the cuts, particularly in terms of sharing best practice between sectors, which would give people in the public sector more experiences to draw upon. It really is a given that if you bring people in with different experiences they are more likely to see where efficiencies could be made. For example, the public sector needs to improve its redeployment of staff through more effective use of outplacement services."

Robling anticipates more outsourcing of recruitment across the public sector, particularly of permanent jobs, as the financial squeeze tightens. "Traditionally, permanent jobs have been kept in house with recruitment agencies used mainly to fill temporary posts. But what we're seeing now is interest in agencies managing the complete recruitment process to support more effective workforce planning."

The Hays Public Services Leadership Survey was conducted in January 2010. It received over 1,200 responses from chief executives, managers and junior staff across the public sector; encompassing those working across central and local government, NHS and social housing nationwide.

For further information contact Andy Robling, Public Services Director at Hays, on 0117 927 5494.

About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is the leading global specialist recruiting group. It is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe. It operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments.

The Group employs 6,933 staff operating from 345 offices in 28 countries across 17 specialisms.

For the year ended 30 June 2009:

  • The Group had revenues of £2.4 billion, net fees of £670.8 million and operating profit of £158 million.
  • The Group placed around 50,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 270,000 people into temporary assignments.
  • The temporary placement business represented 56% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 44% of net fees.

For further press information please contact:

Toby Moore
Monument PR
T. 020 7630 4282

Claire Fowler
T. 020 7630 4282