Pessimism and the media

AnnieM, January 20, 2010

It’s going to be a tense few months in the lead up to the May general election. No one quite knows where (and more to the point, when) the government anti-public spending axe will fall.  One thing is certain: it will fall. The three main parties have been promising (threatening?) these ‘necessary’ public sector cuts in a bid to scoop up support from the private sector: thinly-veiled attempts to persuade voters that this is the best move for the economy. And who knows, maybe it is -in the short-term. Although I can’t help feeling that a slightly better move would be to freeze bonuses (and maybe even freeze the pay) of those big earners in the financial sector. Take the cream from the fat cats, says I.

And as if the imminent cuts weren’t enough to strike fear into every public sector workers heart, the media seems to be on a mission to paint the public sector in the most blackest of terms. Stories of failing children’s services and senior officials losing confidential data abound. We need to put this in perspective: many public services are over-stretched, yes, and it is clear there does need to be a major shake-up in specific areas (especially children’s services) but it is the nature of news organisations to report the unusual stories, the shocking stories, the stories of incompetence and negligence, not the success stories (unless particularly unusual or ‘feel good’). And there are success stories within the public sector. A lot of them. We at Jobsgopublic work regularly with a vast range of councils up and down the country to improve their recruitment systems and show them how to utilise talent in candidates from all backgrounds. We are working hard to improve things within the sector and we are succeeding. And as I mentioned in a previous blog, the public sector remains a great sector to be involved in. There will be cuts, but this is the case across the economy in all sectors. And while the public sector is going to be hit hard (no doubt about it), salaries are still higher in many areas when compared to the private sector and there are generous retirement packages. And there are still jobs going: hundreds of them. If you don’t believe us, look here. At the time of blogging, we have currently 1,084 live job vacancies available. This number is highly likely to increase as 2010 picks up speed.

It occurs to me that all this pessimistic talk in the media around the public sector has become something of a trend. But I wonder how much of this pessimism is going to be self-perpetuating. What came first after all: the chicken or the egg? So don’t let all this media pessimism and scare mongering de-motivate you in your job search.  Ride the internet waves and browse public sector job boards in the UK. Not just ours (although we’d love you to come back and maybe even apply for a few jobs!) but everywhere. You’ll see there are huge numbers of public sector jobs out there for a wide range of levels. In fact, record numbers of graduates are starting out in careers in the public sector, according to a November survey carried out by the Higher Education Careers Service Unit. Why? Because these graduates know it’s the place to be in the future. So whether you are just starting out, moving sectors or if you’ve been working in the public sector for years: take heart.  There are jobs out there - you just need to find the right one.