What does the Public Sector involve?
The Public Sector includes those people who work in local government or independent agencies that are primarily responsible for the delivery of public services. Unlike civil servants, these people do not work directly for the government: however, they are more closely involved with the actual delivery of the services that the civil service oversees - things like the rail networks and the emergency services. The range of jobs that public servants do is just as diverse, if not moreso in fact, than their civil service cousins.
Many failures in public service delivery can in some part can be attributed in part to the lack of familiarity that civil servants have with local government - hence the move by the Cabinet Secretary to implement the policies that he has. The better the understanding the two have of each other, the more likely it is that civil servants will be able to pull each other up - and their ministers, before policies that tread over the the new local government performance framework (covered in parts of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2006) see the light of day.
If you're looking for information on a career in the civil service, click here.
Why should I apply for a career in the Public Sector?
As with the fluctuations based on the economic and political cycles, the number of opportunities will vary. However, they will always be there short of the planet imploding. This is because local authorities have statutory duties that they are required to carry out. The chief executive of a london borough told me that being in his position was the opposite of being a newspaper proprietor - having all the responsibility but with no power. That said, the terms of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2006 takes away powers from Whitehall and gives them to local authorities and their delivery partners. This should make working in this field far more interesting as the old ringfences on budgets formerly imposed by Whitehall (i.e. central government telling local government how money should be spent irrespective of local priorities and issues) should become a thing of the past.
Training and Applicants
It depends on what you are going for. For the National Graduate Development Programme - a bit like the Fast Stream but for local government, you need to have/be predicted a 2:1 in any field plus be able to work in the UK without a permit. Please see this webpage for more information.
What opportunities are available within the sector?
There are a huge number of opportunities available across different areas from people who've left school with nothing all the way up to the most highly qualified and experienced MBA graduate.
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Anyone looking to go into any form of public sector administration should not see this as the Fast Stream's poorer cousin. The two are equal and the civil service is making it mandatory that civil servants should have experience in public sector delivery before they reach the senior civil service. Expect to see a lot more secondments coming from the centre - and the same number of people going the other way from local to central.
When did you begin training?
How did you find the traning?
Did/do you enjoy the job?
Have you gained anything from this job and if so, what?