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Careers in the public sector?

by Phillippa Dunlop August 31, 2011

I am, like everyone working with and for the public sector, full of questions about how the next few years will affect us. I don’t have any answers yet (like everyone)…so all ideas welcome!

It was announced at the end of last month that ex BP boss Lord Browne has been appointed to lead reform across Whitehall – with the over-arching aim of making it more business-like.  On the very same day we heard that 600,000 public sector jobs are to go over the next 5 years.  Is there any link between the two – will the former lead the latter? Somebody has to, after all. And what will this mean for where the job losses will come from? Will we see reductions in headcount in the civil service; or rather will the cuts be on the ground? And how will this work? Will it be the case, as has been widely reported, that vacant posts will simply be left that way, vacant, or will there be more proactive cuts so as to make way for “business like” skills. The possibility of “2 out 1 in” has been mooted.

And now to my main question. What does all this mean for a career in the public sector? What appetite is there for movers and shakers in this climate? Clearly demand to make the transition out of the private sector following the fallout from the economic collapse has peaked – and perhaps the tide has swung following the OBR prediction that private sector will actually bounce back, with an estimated 2.5 million jobs having been created by 2015. And if this is indeed the case then perhaps the real question is how best can public sector types make the transition into the commercial world? And what exactly are the opportunities available to them going to look like? Will this ever be a win-win situation?

Phillippa Dunlop is a Senior Consultant with the Public Sector team at FreshMinds Talent.

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