Public Sector Jobs: 6 Skills You'll Need & 7 Key Benefits (2023)

The UK’s public sector comprises a number of organisations that are primarily supported through public taxation and government funding.

This vast network includes central and local government, agencies and public bodies that provide free or subsidised services to the UK population.

In this article, we'll cover the variety of job opportunities in the public sector, entry paths to those careers, and the benefits of public sector employment.

Public Sector Jobs: 6 Skills You'll Need & 7 Key Benefits (1)Public Sector Jobs: 6 Skills You'll Need & 7 Key Benefits (2)

Careers In the Public Sector & Government

What Job Opportunities Does the Public Sector Offer?

There are around 5.4 million workers employed in the UK’s public sector. This figure accounts for 16.5% of all those employed, and is reflective of the vast number of job opportunities available.

The most popular public sector employers include:

Local Government/Council

Also referred to as local authorities, this section of the public sector delivers services such as housing, transport, social care and education to local communities.

Local authorities employ a range of staff, including front-line service providers, support staff such as finance and administration, and those responsible for developing and implementing local policies.

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Central Government/Civil Service

The Civil Service is responsible for the administrative and practical functions of government. Career progression usually moves through five job grades, from administrative assistant to senior civil servant.

The NHS

Career options within the NHS include clinical roles in medicine, nursing and midwifery, allied healthcare roles such as counselling and physiotherapy, and non-clinical support functions such as IT, finance and administration.

Law Enforcement

Roles within law enforcement range from support functions, such as front-desk operators, call handlers and analysts, through to front-line positions including community support officers (PCSOs), police constables and detectives.

The prison service is also a popular route for those interested in this area.

Other popular areas in the public sector include:

  • Education
  • Social work
  • Roles with the United Nations (UN) and World Health Organisation (WHO)
  • National security

You can find more details in our list of the top 50 public sector employers.

What Entry Paths Are Available for Public Sector Employment?

Entry paths into public sector employment vary widely, and are specific to the nature of the role and organisation to which they relate.

Below we offer guidance on some of the most popular areas of the public sector, and the various entry routes available for each.

Local Government/Council

Job opportunities in local government are diverse. Environmental services, education, housing, transport and social care are just some of the responsibilities of local councils and each area requires a broad range of skills to help develop, implement and maintain these services.

From administration, customer service and HR, to specialist areas such as environmental health or occupational therapy, there are many opportunities across the UK’s authority districts.

The National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP), run by the Local Government Association, offers a two-year management scheme including postgraduate certification and a broad range of work experience across key departments.

The scheme is open to graduates that hold a minimum of a 2:2 Bachelor’s degree in any discipline.

Several councils operate individual training programmes; these can be found on your local council website. Alternatively, the Local Government Jobs website advertises all current vacancies across the UK.

Public Sector Jobs: 6 Skills You'll Need & 7 Key Benefits (3)Public Sector Jobs: 6 Skills You'll Need & 7 Key Benefits (4)

Careers In the Public Sector & Government

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Central Government/Civil Service

As with local government, there are many Civil Service jobs open to graduates of all levels and disciplines.

The Civil Service is made up of several departments and specialist agencies. These include, but are not limited to:

  • HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)
  • The Home Office
  • The Ministry of Defence
  • The Department for Education

Each department offers a range of career paths, including:

  • HR
  • Legal
  • Finance
  • Analysis
  • Communications
  • Project management
  • Technology
  • Procurement
  • Security

The most popular entry route for jobs in central government is the Civil Service Fast Stream. This programme offers graduates from all backgrounds accelerated career progression in one of 15 professions.

Other entry routes include the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) Future Leaders Programme and the HMRC’s graduate recruitment programmes, as well as graduate schemes offered by MI5 and MI6.

The NHS

According to the Office for National Statistics, the NHS employs 31% of all those working in public sector jobs in the UK. This isn’t just confined to medical staff but includes infrastructure support personnel and management.

The NHS Leadership Academy runs the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme, a two-year programme offering successful candidates fast-track opportunities to senior management level in six specialist areas:

  • Finance
  • General management
  • Policy and strategy
  • Health analysis
  • Health informatics
  • Human resources

The scheme is open to graduates with a minimum 2:2 in any degree discipline, though the application process is highly competitive.

The NHS Leadership Academy also offers a graduate management programme in conjunction with Skills for Care and the Department of Health. This 12-month placement provides the knowledge and skills required for management careers in social care.

Law Enforcement

There are multiple routes into law enforcement and new recruitment programmes are in place for police constables throughout the UK. These include policing degrees and a degree-level apprenticeship.

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For those that already hold a degree, the entry scheme will consist of a two-year probationary programme, combining work experience with continued education towards a professional policing practice graduate diploma.

Alternatively, the Police Now graduate scheme offers high-calibre candidates an intensive training course followed by two years on the front line. To be eligible, you must hold, or be working towards, a 2:1 degree.

Qualifications and Skills Needed

With so many opportunities available for careers in the public sector, specific qualifications are difficult to define.

As a general rule, however, most entry routes welcome graduates from all degree levels and disciplines, with more specialist roles requiring a relevant 2:1 Bachelor’s degree.

For some career paths, alternative qualifications are considered, so be sure to check the specific requirements of any role of interest.

While qualifications vary from role to role, certain skills are key for a successful career in all public sector jobs:

  • A commitment to helping society – All public sector jobs have an impact on society, whether on a local level or across the board, so you need to demonstrate a keen interest in playing your part.
  • Communication – Whether with colleagues, partners or service users, you’ll need the skills to communicate clearly and effectively. Verbal reasoning and the ability to convey complex information are valuable tools.
  • Collaboration skills – No area of the public service operates as a truly independent entity. Policies, solutions and services are developed, implemented and run as collaborative efforts, so teamwork, diplomacy and understanding are vital.
  • Resilience – The public sector can be an extremely demanding environment; it’s crucial you can perform under pressure and remain positive.
  • Problem-solving skills – You need to be able to see the bigger picture and work both analytically and creatively to formulate appropriate solutions to problems.
  • Leadership skills – For those who wish to progress to senior management level, these are crucial. This includes the ability to listen to others and bring together opposing ideas to find the best solutions.

Key Benefits of Working in the Public Sector

1. Job Satisfaction

The work you undertake as a public sector employee will, to some degree or another, have an impact on society. Knowing that your role plays a part in building a better future for others can lead to an increased sense of job satisfaction.

2. Flexible Working Hours

The public sector is becoming increasingly open to flexible working culture. Many posts will come with a set number of hours by way of contractual obligation, with a degree of flexibility as to when these are fulfilled.

3. Atmosphere

While public sector employment can be demanding, the working atmosphere lacks the competitive nature of private-sector organisations. If you are not a competitive person by nature, the public sector could be a better fit.

4. Job Stability

Although government cuts and drops in funding mean no job is 100% secure, the funding model of the public sector still brings an increased level of job security over the private sector.

5. Pension Schemes

Pension schemes offered to public sector employees tend to be more financially beneficial than those offered in the private sector.

6. Career Progression

Due to the nature of their funding and purpose, public sector organisations are, in most cases, expected to invest in all employees through training and development opportunities which open the doors to career progression.

7. The Chance to Make a Difference

Whether on a local or national level, public sector jobs offer the opportunity to make a significant difference to people, communities and society. For those that have a passion for change, the public sector is a great career choice.

Public Sector Jobs: 6 Skills You'll Need & 7 Key Benefits (5)Public Sector Jobs: 6 Skills You'll Need & 7 Key Benefits (6)

Careers In the Public Sector & Government

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Additional Considerations

While many public sector jobs offer a fairly structured working environment in terms of location and hours, some require additional commitments.

International roles, such as those within the UN, may require extensive overseas travel. Jobs within the NHS and law enforcement will often involve unsociable hours and changing shift patterns, as well as high-stress or high-pressure working environments.

Choosing the right path requires careful consideration of your career and life goals.

Starting Salaries and Progression

Starting salaries for public sector jobs vary significantly and are dependent on sector area, speciality and location.

As an illustrative overview:

  • Starting salaries for local government range between £16,000 to £20,000. Those enrolled on the National Graduate Development Programme will receive a minimum of £24,000, plus London weighting where applicable. Those who progress to senior management within local government can expect to earn upwards of £60,000.
  • Starting salaries on the Civil Service Fast Stream range between £25,000 and £28,000, dependent on the programme. Experienced Civil Servants earn an average of £30,000, with a small proportion progressing to £80,000 in high-profile positions.
  • Graduates partaking in the HMRC’s recruitment programme can expect a starting salary of £28,000, rising to £48,000 after completing the scheme, or £32,000, rising to £55,000 if based in London.
  • The NHS Graduate Management Programme offers a starting salary of £23,000 across all of its streams.
  • In law enforcement, starting salaries for PCSOs range from £18,000 to £20,000. Those enrolled on the Police Now scheme will receive a minimum of £23,500.

Public sector career progression is readily available to anyone that shows commitment and innovation.

Financial remuneration is based on salary banding, with each organisation operating its own grading system.

Final Thoughts

The diverse array of jobs available in the public sector make it a popular choice with graduates from all degree disciplines.

Training and development opportunities are many but, due to the standard of career progression and benefits on offer, it is a competitive market and candidates looking to enter the public sector should take every opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

Many local councils welcome applications from unpaid work experience candidates. There are plenty of voluntary organisations that offer placements which will be looked on favourably by public sector employers.

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In addition, the application process for graduate schemes can be tough and often includes psychometric tests, so it’s important to be well prepared before starting any application process to stand the best chance of success.

FAQs

What skills do you need to work with the public? ›

What Skills Do You Need for Public Services and Administration?
  • Communication. ...
  • Influence. ...
  • Respect for Hierarchy. ...
  • Resilience. ...
  • Ability to Work Collaboratively. ...
  • Leadership. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Honesty.

What skills do you need to work in local government? ›

You'll need to have:
  • excellent written and spoken communication skills.
  • customer service skills.
  • organisation and planning skills with the ability to manage your time and prioritise your workload.
  • negotiation skills and the ability to communicate persuasively.
  • the ability to deal with people from a variety of backgrounds.

What skills do you need to be a civil servant? ›

You'll need:
  • customer service skills.
  • administration skills.
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations.
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure.
  • business management skills.
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail.
  • the ability to work well with others.

What are examples of public benefit? ›

The phrase “public benefits” encompasses a wide variety of government programs that provide financial and other assistance to the public. Commonly used benefit programs include Social Security, disability, unemployment insurance, housing assistance (“Section 8”), and workers' compensation.

What is the benefit of the public? ›

Public benefit means a positive effect (or reduction of negative effects) on 1 or more categories of persons, entities, communities or interests (other than stockholders in their capacities as stockholders) including, but not limited to, effects of an artistic, charitable, cultural, economic, educational, environmental ...

What are public skills? ›

Public speaking skills are soft skills that showcase how well you can speak and engage your listeners. Influential public speakers have the power to persuade, inform and educate others. It helps you sway opinions, motivate others and become a natural leader.

What are the top 5 skills required for this role? ›

Here are 11 of the most sought-after employability skills that hiring managers search for in candidates:
  1. Communication skills. ...
  2. Leadership skills. ...
  3. Teamwork skills. ...
  4. Interpersonal skills. ...
  5. Learning/adaptability skills. ...
  6. Self-management skills. ...
  7. Organizational skills. ...
  8. Computer skills.

What are the 7 skills needed independently? ›

Some skills will serve you well regardless of what your goals are. Here are seven of them!
  • Effective Communication. ...
  • Organization and Management. ...
  • Negotiation. ...
  • Critical Thinking. ...
  • Teamwork and Delegation. ...
  • Research and Analysis. ...
  • Confidence.
9 Jun 2015

What are the six roles of local government? ›

What is the Role of Local Government?
  • Planning and zoning bylaws.
  • Taxation.
  • Local business support.
  • Collaborating between communities and in the larger region.
  • Accessing and using programs offered by provincial and federal governments.
  • Advocating for community economic development priorities with governments and industry.

What are 3 examples of government workers? ›

Examples include information clerks, secretaries, and office clerks. Other. Workers who have tasks that do not fit neatly with those in another group are in “other” occupations. These occupations include firefighters, detectives, and correctional officers.

What are 5 services that the local government provide? ›

Municipalities generally take responsibility for parks and recreation services, police and fire departments, housing services, emergency medical services, municipal courts, transportation services (including public transportation), and public works (streets, sewers, snow removal, signage, and so forth).

What are public management skills? ›

The ability to influence, guide and inspire people to achieve a common goal. Leaders need to be proficient, know their team members, take ownership of their projects, and set the example.

What are worker service skills? ›

The eight most common skills based on Service Worker resumes in 2022.
  • Customer Service, 20.4%
  • Cleanliness, 10.3%
  • Patients, 7.2%
  • Rehabilitation, 7.0%
  • Excellent Interpersonal, 5.8%
  • Crisis Intervention, 4.9%
  • Food Preparation, 4.8%
  • Other Skills, 39.6%
18 Aug 2021

What are service skills? ›

Customer service skills are the skills necessary to communicate with others, solve problems, demonstrate patience and understanding, ensure customer satisfaction, and resolve customer complaints. Employees with excellent customer service skills can have a massive impact on a company's bottom line.

What are the 4 types of benefits? ›

There are four major types of employee benefits many employers offer: medical insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, and retirement plans.

What are the 3 types of benefits? ›

Benefits are any perks offered to employees in addition to salary. The most common benefits are medical, disability, and life insurance; retirement benefits; paid time off; and fringe benefits.

What are the main types of benefits? ›

Types of benefits
  • Pensions. These are widespread due to legal requirements. ...
  • Holidays and time off. ...
  • Healthcare and risk benefits. ...
  • Company cars and car allowances. ...
  • Other benefits.
19 Apr 2022

What are the three benefits of public facilities? ›

10 Benefits of Creating Good Public Spaces
  • Support local economies: ...
  • Attract business investments: ...
  • Attract tourism: ...
  • Provide cultural opportunities: ...
  • Encourage volunteerism: ...
  • Reduce crime: ...
  • Improve pedestrian safety: ...
  • Increase use of public transportation:

What is public sector example? ›

Public sectors include the public goods and governmental services such as the military, law enforcement, infrastructure, public transit, public education, along with health care and those working for the government itself, such as elected officials.

Why is public skill important? ›

It allows us to form connections, influence decisions, and motivate change. Without communication skills, the ability to progress in the working world and in life, itself, would be nearly impossible. Public speaking is one of the most important and most dreaded forms of communication.

What are 5 public speaking skills? ›

Here are 5 essential public speaking tips that are so obvious you should be embarrassed if you're not doing them already.
  • Make eye contact. ...
  • Know your audience. ...
  • Stand up straight. ...
  • Get the words off your PowerPoint slides. ...
  • Show up with some energy.
14 May 2013

What are the 3 most important skills you need to speak in public? ›

Public speaking is a soft skill that requires excellent communication skills, enthusiasm, and the ability to engage with an audience.

What is key skills example? ›

Problem-solving skills: creativity, critical thinking, and analytical skills. Customer-service skills: active listening, time management, and prioritization. Interpersonal skills: communication, teamwork, and empathy. Leadership skills: decision making, stress management, and organization.

What are the 3 most important things in a job? ›

There are three key employer characteristics a job seeker should look for in an employment relationship: reputation, career advancement and work balance. These often show up in employment surveys as being most important for candidates.

What are the 8 key skills? ›

Key Skills Qualifications
  • Communication.
  • Application of Numbers.
  • Information Communication Technology.
  • Working with others.
  • Improving own learning and performance.
  • Problem-solving.

What are the 8 essential skills? ›

The eight essential skills are listening, speaking, problem-solving, creativity, staying positive, aiming high, leadership, and teamwork. The skills cover communication, creative problem solving, self-management, and interpersonal skills.

What are the 7 skills that you have to develop and demonstrate in order to succeed in distance learning? ›

What Makes a Successful Online Learner?
  • Persistence. Persistence is perhaps the biggest key to success in online learning. ...
  • Effective Time-Management Skills. ...
  • Effective and Appropriate Communication Skills. ...
  • Basic Technical Skills. ...
  • Reading and Writing Skills. ...
  • Motivation and Independence. ...
  • A Good Study Environment.

What are the 10 roles of government? ›

Top 10 Responsibilities of Government towards business
  • Enacting and Enforcing Laws.
  • Maintaining Law and Order.
  • Providing Monetary System.
  • Balanced Regional Development and Growth.
  • Provision of Basic Infrastructure.
  • Supply of Information.
  • Assistance to Small-scale Industries.
  • Transfer of Technology.

What are the 4 main roles of government? ›

A government is responsible for creating and enforcing the rules of a society, defense, foreign affairs, the economy, and public services.

What are the top 10 government jobs? ›

Top 10 Highest-Paying Government Jobs in India
  • Indian Administrative Services [IAS]
  • Indian Foreign Services [IFS]
  • Indian Police Services [IPS]
  • Indian Engineering Services [IES]
  • Public Sector Companies [PSUs]
  • Indian Forest Services.
  • RBI Grade B.
  • SEBI Grade A.

What is a public service job? ›

B) Public service job The term “public service job” means— (i) a full-time job in emergency management, government (excluding time served as a member of Congress), military service, public safety, law enforcement, public health (including nurses, nurse practitioners, nurses in a clinical setting, and full-time ...

What are the 4 types of workers? ›

Managing the 4 Different Types of Workers
  • Pioneers.
  • Drivers.
  • Integrators.
  • Guardians.
11 Nov 2019

What are 10 services provided by local government? ›

There are a large number of services that they provide, the most important of which are:
  • Water supply.
  • Sewage collection and disposal.
  • Refuse removal.
  • Electricity and gas supply.
  • Municipal health services.
  • Municipal roads and storm water drainage.
  • Street lighting.
  • Municipal parks and recreation.

What are the 8 services a local government provides? ›

Basic city services may include sanitation (both sewer and refuse), water, streets, the public library, schools, food inspection, fire department, police, ambulance, and other health department issues and transportation.

What are the 4 types of local government? ›

Types of Local Governments
  • Municipalities.
  • Regional Municipalities.
  • Rural Communities (RC)
  • Local Service Districts (LSD)

What are the 4 skills of management? ›

The 4 must-have General Management Skills:
  • Visionary Leadership.
  • Strategy & Development.
  • Negotiation and Conflict Management.
  • Team-building & Interpersonal Skills.

What are the 3 skills needed by a manager? ›

Robert Katz identifies three types of skills that are essential for a successful management process: Technical skills. Conceptual skills. Human or interpersonal management skills.

Which of the skills is most important for the service employee? ›

Empathy. No list of good customer service skills is complete without empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand another person's emotions and to understand their point of view.

What types of skills are taught to employees? ›

These skills are essential for workers to have or learn because they help them function within the organization.
...
Soft skills can include:
  • Time management.
  • Listening skills.
  • Empathy.
  • Communication skills.
  • People skills.
  • Intrapersonal skills.

What makes a good service worker? ›

Patience is also necessary because customers can be demanding, and you need to be able to deal with their requests in a respectful manner. Other qualities that make a good customer service worker include computer literacy and the ability to take direction from superiors.

What are the 7 qualities of good customer service? ›

7 Must-Have Qualities of a Stellar Customer Service Rep
  • Problem-Solving Skills. The number one skill you need to excel in for good customer service is problem-solving. ...
  • Clear Communication. ...
  • Friendly Attitude. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Business Acumen. ...
  • Product/Service Knowledge. ...
  • Strong Time Management.

What are 10 services examples? ›

Service business examples
  • Athletic training business. Athletic trainers help individuals reach their fitness goals. ...
  • Housekeeping. ...
  • Business consulting. ...
  • Maintenance service. ...
  • Graphic design. ...
  • Financial advising. ...
  • Academic tutoring. ...
  • Auto mechanic shop.

What are your core skills and services? ›

The core skills recruiters should be looking for

There are four core skills that hirers should be focusing on: Organisational skills such as time management or research skills. Communication skills such as listening and writing. Interpersonal skills like empathy and flexibility.

Why is it important to work in public service? ›

These services do often have challenges, and there are needs for additional services to keep a community running safely and efficiently. Entering public service provides the opportunity to become a steward of public policy and contribute to the improvements that are vital to quality of life.

Why public sector is better than private? ›

Jobs within the public sector are very stable since the chances of getting sacked due to non-performance are very low. Jobs within the private sector are not very secure since non-performance can lead to sacking. Companies can also fire people in case of cost cutting or scaling down of operations.

Is it better to work in public or private sector? ›

Private corporate workers are three times more likely to lose their jobs than federal employees, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With public sector employment, you get job security and a steady income stream. This benefit is huge during times of economic instability.

Is working in public sector better than private? ›

However, in terms of earning potential and salary expectations, those operating in the public sector will generally see slower and more structured salary increases than those workers employed in the private arena.

Why do I want to work in the public sector? ›

Jobs in the public sector can offer you the chance to support a government agency or improve the community. You might also create positive changes that secure the well-being of residents and motivate people to find similar roles in these services.

What are examples of public sectors? ›

Public sectors include the public goods and governmental services such as the military, law enforcement, infrastructure, public transit, public education, along with health care and those working for the government itself, such as elected officials.

Is a public sector job good? ›

Public sector workplaces are usually unionised and you can expect good conditions of employment with opportunities for flexible working arrangements, career breaks and job sharing. There are often good training opportunities and encouragement for furthering your education, including study and exam leave.

Which public sector is best? ›

The businesses listed here are known to be the Public Sector Undertakings and are majority-owned by the state (PSU).
  • Oil and Natural Gas Corporation. ...
  • NTPC. ...
  • Coal India India. ...
  • NMDC. ...
  • State Bank of India. ...
  • Bharat Heavy Electricals. ...
  • India's Steel Authority. ...
  • Indian Oil Corporation.
26 Sept 2022

What do you mean by public sector? ›

public sector, portion of the economy composed of all levels of government and government-controlled enterprises. It does not include private companies, voluntary organizations, and households.

What is the highest paying public job? ›

Top 100 Federal Occupations in 2021

In 2021, the number one most well-paid job was "Medical Officer," with an average yearly pay of $255,213. The runner-up job, "Securities Compliance Examining," follows with an average of $205,652, which is a 19.42% decrease.

Do government jobs pay well? ›

Benefits: The government offers federal benefits, including health insurance and pension plans, to employees that are often better than many other industries and companies. Competitive pay: Employees working a government job can expect to receive a competitive salary, especially with job promotions and advancements.

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