Former public sector workers face an uphill battle to gain employment at SMEs, because most are unlikely to recruit civil servants.
Former public sector workers face an uphill battle to gain employment at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with research finding most are unlikely to recruit civil servants.
In a blow to the government’s hopes that the private sector can absorb redundancies following the spending cuts, 74 per cent of employers say they do not expect to hire more ex-public sector workers within the next 12 months, according to research from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
Only 11 per cent of surveyed SMEs expect to increase recruitment of ex-public sector employees, a statistic which CIMA executive director Ray Perry comments may worry many government employees facing redundancy.
According the research, 59 per cent of SMEs report they anticipate no rise in recruitment levels during the first quarter of this year while less than half (48 per cent) feel confident about their general business performance in the current economic climate.
Perry remarks that most businesses aren’t hiring former public sector workers because of concerns about the economy, rather than any unfavourable perceptions of their skills or work ethic.
He tells GrowthBusiness: ‘Over recent years, perceptions are changing [about the public sector] and employers now really look at a candidate’s skill set and their appropriateness for the job. I don’t think there are many organisations that would have the attitude on principle, “I would never, ever employ someone from the public sector”, I don’t think that would be true.’
Perry adds that workers who have gained experience in the public sector may have some advantages over their private sector counterparts.
‘People running a commercial business are primarily looking for good management experience and in a commercial environment. However, somebody from the public sector may well be appropriate if the role is in a complex organisation where perhaps there is a lot of need to manage upwards. Public sector workers generally have a lot of experience working with multiple stakeholders, for example, which would be very relevant to some companies.’
One of the downsides of working in the public sector is having less exposure to sales and marketing, says Perry, as well as a tendency by workers to fail to upgrade their skills and gain further technical qualifications. On the other hand, he says there are key skills that are transferable to private industry such as project management, operations and logistics, and accountancy, which he describes as ‘engines for business’.
In the face of government spending cuts, Perry believes there will be more fluidity in the movement of people between the public and private sectors because of the projected slimming down of the civil service.
He adds: ‘We have examples of people who have come from a global corporation and switch to pursue a career in central government. We also have seen and see it working the other way.
‘People have to be sensible with their careers, and be flexible and adaptable in a way that perhaps they haven’t in the past.’