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good pay, hours and real satisfaction
There are two common misunderstandings about working in the public sector; one that pay is much lower, and two; that it lacks the creativity and flexibility of the private sector - on both counts the opposite is often the truth.
Clearly, the sort of high graduate starting salaries offered by investment banks, City law firms, etc, are not on offer in the public sector; on the other hand, pay tends to increase steadily, if not spectacularly, from year to year, and a gender pay gap is less noticeable in this sector.
According to a survey conducted by the Association of Graduate Recruiters, the median graduate starting salary in 2003 was £19,900 in the public sector (for organised trainee schemes) as against £20,300 in the private sector.
Local government trainees on the National Graduate Development Programme were paid £19,155 (plus London weighting as appropriate) in 2003 and Civil Service Fast Stream candidates based in London could expect to start on around £21,500. In the three months up to November 2003, public sector pay rose by some 4.9%, compared to a growth of 3.3% in the private sector.
Salaries are lower for graduates who enter the public sector by other routes, particularly if they lack vocational or professional qualifications, which open up the way into more specialist areas. General administrative or technician grade posts are likely to be open to non-graduates also, on lower pay scales.
To gain work experience in a highly competitive area like heritage/museum work, graduates can expect to start in lower paid, possibly temporary or seasonal roles, such as visitor services assistants or tour guides.
The fact is that work in the public sector is massively diverse and can mean anything from working at director level, dealing with billion pound projects, to high level marketing and managerial roles, to admin and manual work.
The public sector includes many of the essential services that benefit the local community - things like care, education, housing, environmental protection, emergency services, social services - are all delivered by organisations providing a public service. They may either provide these services directly to you or arrange for others to do this. But we can't ignore the fact that most of these services affect our daily lives in a major way.
The collection of your household rubbish, the school you or your children go to, the personal care and support that you or your neighbours receive, the standards of hygiene in your local restaurants and shops, the books in your local library - these are just a few of the things falling under the remit of public service bodies.
Careers at Southwark Council, the police, ambulance are all worth looking at. Whatever your skills and interests you'd be surprised because of the multitude of work and projects these organisations have to deliver, just what roles and jobs are available in the public sector market.
While it does not generally have a long hours culture it is especially open to a variety of work patterns, including part-time, job-share, flexi-time, career breaks and more. Some employers offer workplace nurseries and holiday play schemes for staff children. And it is often in the public sector that more attention is given to career development and training, both in-house and external. Other benefits include the fact that the public sector offers favourable pension schemes at a time when private companies are increasingly abandoning 'final salary' pensions. Redundancy is also much less likely.
But one of the main reasons people opt and continue to work in the public sector is not the money, or the pension or the flexi-hours, it is the satisfaction of working for and contributing to the local community in which you live. Whoever you are and whatever your background, working in the public sector gives you the opportunity to make a difference and improve other's lives.
To find out more, please visit www.jobsatsouthwark.co.uk
Improvement begins with I.
To be the best you can be, you need to join a fast-improving Council. We're really putting Southwark on the map - instilling a sense of place, celebrating our diversity and transforming the physical environment for generations to come. A truly progressive organisation, we're deeply committed to recycling and the environment, dedicated to excellence in service delivery and passionate about making a difference - and we're ready to invest heavily in your future too.
To learn more, please visit www.jobsatsouthwark.co.uk
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