UK public sector continues to expand

Mar 31 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Despite the recent announcement of massive civil service job cuts in the UK, new figures suggest that public sector employers are still looking to expand their workforce over the next three months.

The Employment Outlook Survey from recruitment outfit Manpower suggests that on balance, one in five employers in the public sector intend to increase staffing levels for the quarter ahead. This result is higher than the second quarter average for the sector over the last 13 years.

According to Manpower's Ruth Hounslow, Chancellor's Gordon Brown's announcement of 54,000 job losses was not quite what it seemed.

"There are over 5 million people working in the public sector," she said. "Brown's speech highlights that there will be a gross reduction of 54,000 public sector posts by 2008 but after redeployment, a reduction of 40,500 staff.

"These cuts, over a four-year time period, should not have a negative affect on overall employer confidence in the sector. Indeed, despite the public emphasis on specific civil service job losses, the number of public sector jobs overall is still due to rise by 360,000 between 2003 and 2006.

Anecdotal opinion suggests that employer confidence within the public sector

is still buoyant and skilled workforces in much need as ever, she added.

"As with many other sectors, it is struggling to find the right skills for the jobs available. Public sector employers have as much of a training and skills challenge as the private sector."

Alan Warner, Director of People and Property for Hertfordshire County Council, agreed

"From our experience as one of the largest recruiters of staff in Hertfordshire, it is highly likely that public sector hiring will continue as usual provided skilled people continue to come forward to help meet the positions we need to fill.

"You have to remember that we mainly employ people who are providing direct services to the community and in some cases for instance, social care that is particularly difficult. It is a constant pressure to get the right people into these very important jobs."

Within the sub-sectors making up the community and social services sector,

A third of employers in public admin and defence plan to take on staff, which is

almost double the national average for job prospects in the UK.

Similarly, almost a quarter of employers in the health sub-sector intend to add to their pay rolls for the three month until the end of June, as do employers in the education sub-sector, despite recording a drop in hiring intentions from a quarter and year ago.

Manpower's Ruth Hounslow added that there would also be ongoing recruitment programmes in the education and health sectors as they continue to battle with skill shortages in these areas.

"The education sub-sector may be recording slightly deflated figures but this is not the time of the year when employers in education are likely to be recruiting," she said. "Schools tend not to recruit around Easter time and the lead into the summer vacation because of the nature of the school year."