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Public V Private

Published: Monday 3rd September 2018

VS graphic on a orange and red background

Public Vs Private sector – what appeals most to graduates?

When graduates leave university for the job market, one of the things they will be considering when it comes to their career choice is whether to go into the private sector or public sector work. Clearly, there are pros and cons to be found in both sectors, but if you’re looking to attract more talent to your organisation, then you need to have an understanding of exactly what it is that appeals to graduates in both sectors.

Opportunities for career progression

One of the most obvious differences between public and private sector jobs is that when it comes to career progression, in the private sector, the focus is on performance. In the public sector, it tends to more based on length of service. The structure is hierarchical with set grades. This can be attractive to candidates as progression is assured, but it is also perceived as a slow way of getting ahead.

Moreover, many private sector companies, especially when it comes to building & construction jobs, have more to offer to apprentices. There tend to be very few apprentice schemes in the public sector, but this is changing, especially when it comes to education jobs or other civil service jobs.

That said, graduates don’t tend to be attracted by apprenticeships and many private companies in the construction sector will have other roles, such as project manager jobs that are more suited to graduates.

Who comes out on top when it comes to paying and benefits?

While public sector workers overall still earn more than their private sector counterparts, those that show ability in the private sector can expect their salary and career to progress much quickly as they move from job to job. However, traditionally, civil service jobs have been more attracted in terms of pension and holidays entitlements.

Larger, more well-known corporations use attractive performance related pay and bonus packages to lure graduates – which is why many will even have singled out some of these companies as their first port of call when leaving university and entering the employment market.

Job security

In the past, one of the biggest draws for candidates, graduate or otherwise, to the public sector is the perception that civil service jobs can be for life. While that may not reflect the full picture these days, there’s certainly more security in a public sector government job than in the most private sector companies. However, when it comes to education or nursing jobs, trainee teachers and nurses can take time before securing a role offering real job security.

IT jobs in both private and public sectors tend to be more secure due to the high demand for skilled staff. Meanwhile, admin and support staff positions have a high turnover of staff. There is always a constant supply of receptionist jobs and security officer jobs on Zoek UK.

Economic factors

To a large extent, how attractive your organisation is to graduate candidates will depend on the state of the employment market. If graduates think there might be a downturn or recession in the pipeline, then the public sector, civil service, and government jobs will be more attractive, albeit there will be more competition for vacancies.

Overall, it might be true that most private-sector workers think the grass is greener on the other side when it comes to job security, training and holidays, but the gap seems to be narrowing.

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