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Public sector less appealing career choice than last year

Fewer people now plan to move from the private sector into a public sector job than in 2009, according a new survey by Hays, the leading recruiting experts.

The Private to Public Perceptions Survey 2010 found that less than 38 per cent of respondents would consider working next for either local or central government, or the NHS. The figure is a drop of more than a third on a similar survey in 2009 when 72 per cent of respondents stated that they were considering a move to the public sector.

The findings suggest a move away from interest in the public sector over the past year, and a hardening of attitudes to the value of the work. Whilst nearly half of respondents (42%) in the 2009 Hays survey thought the public sector was "more ethically and morally rewarding" , that figure has slumped to just 21%.

"People are feeling more confident about the private sector as we move out of recession and less about the public as we move into an era that anticipates significant job cuts in the sector," said Andy Robling, Public Services Director of Hays.

Responses to the survey showed that the search for job stability is markedly less important this year (50%) as a driver of career change compared to 2009 (73%). One third of respondents anticipate "considerable" job cuts in the public sector after the election. However, the survey revealed an increase in those who were considering a move into the public sector being motivated by the search for a better work-life balance (73%) compared to 2009 (59%).

"Generally speaking, it is true that there are more flexible working practices and less pressure to work increased hours still in the public sector than the private," said Robling.

More people considering the move were doing so because they wanted better benefits, up from 37% to 47%. The survey found that a high number of respondents cited too much bureaucracy and lack of dynamism as reasons why the public sector was unattractive.

Andy Robling said: "There are clearly going to be challenging times ahead and although some jobs are going to go, the likelihood is that others will be created. We see a considerable need for people who are able to manage change, and the trend towards private sector involvement will continue as services are increasingly outsourced over the next two or three years.

"We are probably about to witness one of the biggest reorganisations of public services in a generation. The debate is not so much about the structure of public sector organisations, but about how services are configured and delivered. It will be a quite profound change, but one which opens up opportunities for public and private sectors whereby they aren't seen as two distinct worlds. As the public sector engages more with the private, so the work environment will be every bit as challenging, which also suits many people currently in the private sector and will provide further development opportunities for those already working in the public sector."

The Hays Private to Public Perceptions Survey was conducted in January 2010. It received over 500 responses from staff working in the private sector.

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

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:

Keir Bosley, CHAT. 020 7580 7025E.

Claire Fowler, HaysT. 020 7630 4282E.