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Benefits of Working in the Public Sector 

11 months ago by Kevin Burke
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According to the Office for National Statistics, an estimated 5.83 million people worked for the public sector in 2023. Organisations such as The Bank of England, HM Revenue and NHS are notable employers in this sector and have some of the largest workforces in the UK. In comparison, 82.4% of the UK workforcework in the private sector. 

With statistics showing an increase in public sector employees in the past couple of years, it indicates that more people are being drawn to the public sector, for reasons such as job satisfaction, longevity, and professional progression.This general increase has also been reflected in the number of tech professional job opportunities available within the public sector. 

Working in the public sector offers a wide range of generous benefits compared with the private sector. 

​This article explores five of the key benefits of working in the public sector, within tech, to help you decide if this could be the next career choice for you.

  • Finding more meaning and purpose vs working for profit

  • Job stability with government backing 

  • Growth and Progression Opportunities 

  • Flexibility for more work-life balance

  • Generous benefits package with pensions that hugely out-perform private sector

Finding more meaning and purpose vs working for profit

​It’s clear that one of the biggest advantages of working in a public sector organisation is that you will play a part in the direct impact the organisation has on the public community.

​Projects and roles in these organisations are made with the purpose of bringing a beneficial service to the public. Put simply, the collective goal for these organisations is to improve service quality to bring better services to people, rather than building on profit.

​As a result, working in the public sector provides a greater sense of purpose to your work, that can feel naturally motivating and rewarding. As summarised by Bath & North East Somerset Council, “work that's rewarding, a culture where you feel comfortable, and an organisation with aims you can believe in? There is an area with a built-in sense of doing meaningful work, and that's the public sector.”

​​Job stability with government backing ​

Another benefit of working in the public sector is job security. In the past couple of years, it’s clear to see that there has been large economic uncertainty across the globe, following the pandemic, rising costs and even climate change. Therefore, it’s a common concern for workers to question their job stability being impacted by these external factors.

Public sector jobs can provide comfort and peace of mind as they are naturally stable. This is due to public sector organisations having full-government backing. Even in times of economic downturn, there is guaranteed job security.

With job security, employees have an opportunity to think further into their long-term prospects with their organisation. 

Growth and progression opportunities

Across public sector organisations, there is a large recognition of the importance of training and building their employees’ expertise. This importance comes from the value of having long-term employees that can grow their skills alongside the growth of the organisation.

There is a variety of training that is available to employees, including on-the-job training, attending official training courses. Unlike the private sector, where training is typically tailored to increasing your efficiency in your current role, training will often be catered around an individual's own career aspirations and geared towards your longer-term development. Some public sector organisations will have formal employee policies that ensure employees will utilise training in the organisation. For example, the HMRC handbook states ‘everyone gets a minimum of five formal days learning and development; provided through online, face to face or coaching’.

Additionally, public sector organisations have the advantage of support programmes or partnerships such as Microsoft for Government and Google for Government, to drive digital journeys, make innovative technology change to improve work experience, as well as empowering employees by giving them access to official training courses.

This investment in digital, tech and infrastructure, is great news if you are looking for an opportunity within a tech specialism, for example data, Microsoft Dynamics 365 or IT Transformation. There are also opportunities to work with sector-specific systems such as Housing Management systems in the social housing sector, Patient Information systems in the NHS as well asStudent Information Systems used within universities.

Flexibility for more work-life balance

Alongside long-term growth and progression, public sector organisations also recognise the importance of flexible working for a diverse workforce. Flexible working in the public sector can include:

  • Flexi-time: flexible start and end time with core working hours.

  • Compressed hours i.e. four day working week.

  • Remote or hybrid working.

  • Enhanced paternal leave.

  • Sabbaticals.

Especially with the changes over the pandemic and the shift to flexible working, public sector organisations were likely behind the curve when it came to technological advances prior to the pandemic. As Portsmouth City Council quotes, from working in a traditional style  ‘We moved from an evolutionary process to revolution in just a few months.’ Employees such as mothers going on/coming back from maternity, and older workers, are examples of individuals who would benefit highly from flexible working opportunities.

Beyond their specific flexible working policies, one other thing that you find is that working hours are generally shorter. Many employees in the public sector are likely to work less hours per week, on average 36 hours (or in non-profit organisations, 35 hours). Those working in the private sector work 37.5 hours per week (and upwards) on average in comparison according to the ONS.

With the public sector providing new ways of working, employees are seeing great benefits in balancing their work and home life.

Generous benefits package with pensions that hugely out-perform private sector​

Whilst flexibility and progression may be included as a part of an organisation’s benefits package, there are many other benefits offered to public sector workers. With these organisations placing an importance across quality of service, this is reflected internally with their generous benefits package and a focus on employee satisfaction. 

Some of the most generous benefits offered by most public sector organisations are the pension schemes. This is demonstrated by the office for national statistics who compared the value of a public sector pension between 2018 – 2020, compared to the private sector. The average value of a public sector pension was over £55k more than the private sector.

Part of the reason for this is that public sector organisations often offer defined benefit pensions, meaning that you have guaranteed income for life, post retirement, rather than defined contribution schemes where your retirement income will depend on the performance of wherever the pension is invested. Public sector organisations typically also offer a higher level of employer contribution – for example, many Universities utilise theUniversities Superannuation Scheme with an employer contribution up to 21.6%.

Alongside this, benefits packages can focus on healthcare and wellbeing support, ranging from eye tests, free flu jabs, mental health support i.e. People Asset Management Group, discounted gym memberships, dental services and more. There also may be financial support offered, such as free childcare, financial advice portals, covering travel expenses and technology discounts.

It’s a commonly held belief that public sector roles are less desirable due to lower salaries but once you take the full set of benefits into account, a role in the public sector actually could have a total package value comparable to a private sector role, which is paying almost 25% more (due to more annual leave, shorter working hours, and access to more valuable workplace pension schemes).

Browse our public sector jobs or reach out for advice

Are you interested in a tech job within the public sector, and want to learn more about the fantastic benefits these organisations have to offer? Please browse our public sector tech jobs here, or register your CV here and we’ll match your skills with the right role. We’ll help you explore the benefits of working in the public sector to see if it suits your life and career goals. 

​We have specialist teams working across the public sector including the NHS, Higher Education, Council / Government, Housing Associations and Non-Profit.

​Find our more about the author Kevin Burke, Student Systems Recruitment Lead, here.

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