Totaljobs roundtable: Perception and reality of the public sector

Totaljobs hosted a roundtable discussion for the public sector last month that identified some key issues that are hindering its growth. Part 1 of this roundtable report focused on the lack of leadership skills and the constraints on flexibility which are supressing ambition rather than encouraging it.

This part is based on another key theme that frequently arose from the discussion: the idea that many graduates and jobseekers believe that a career in the public sector means a less successful career than the private, when the reality is quite contrary.


Rob Neil, Head of Engagement networks at the Ministry of Justice

“I think the gap in the perception of the civil service and what it can actually offer is huge. We need to interact with our future leaders in schools, in universities and tell them that the public service is a great place to work… and here is why.”


Liam Nwanze, HR Directorate of Talent Management at the Ministry of Defence

“We forget to ask, is that what you want to do? Is that where you want to go? We can retain workers in the public service if we listen and adhere to their aspirations. It’s about extending their knowledge of the civil service and get them thinking outside the box with what they want to add to their CVs.”


Paul Slade, Head of Digital Capability for the Government Digital Service at the Cabinet Office

“We need to eradicate this bad perception of the public service in the media first. We need to get smarter with digital networks and social media to appeal to the new generation of public service worker as our current marketing campaigns are obsolete.”


Simon Kearey, Head of Transformation at Oxfordshire County Council

“The general perception at the moment is… the civil service is not for you if you’re a bit different, if you have certain unique qualities or skills. We need to support this ambition rather than quell it.”


Rob Neil

“We need to think of ways of attracting those people who would never consider the public sector as a career path. We need to deconstruct this image that the people at the top of the public sector are the bowler hat and pin stripe suit brigade. We need to change the way we test for talent and the way we recruit, because if you’re not the right type, you fall away.

“They need to believe that there are so many opportunities for them to use their skills to be what they want to be. And they need to realise that it isn’t what they think at the top.

“Ultimately, we need to realise that talent comes in different shapes and sizes and focus on young people. We also need to shepherd people from outside the public sector and change this media perception.”


Andrew Archer, IT Profession Manager at the Ministry of Justice

“We need to get a lot smarter using different media to attract and retain talent and we need to establish a ‘why not’ attitude back into workers.


Mike Booker, International & Public Sector Managing Director at The Network

“This is a tremendous opportunity to realise the potential of the public sector. There is also a real opportunity to create a national alignment between all departments.”


For more information about this roundtable event, keep checking this blog. We’ve got another article on the way with more highlights and analysis.

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