back to article UK biz prejudiced against public sector staff

The Coalition government's hope that the private sector will soak up staff laid off from the public sector took a blow today from a survey showing more than half of UK businesses would not employ people from the public sector. A survey of 500 firms by the FT and Barclays Corporate found 57 per cent said they were not …


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  1. Jay Jaffa

    Thoughts from a person-centred transition facilitator

    It's hardly any surprise - can you imagine actually hiring a former public sector worker?

    As a profitable private enterprise, we don't actually have any roles for a "person-centred transition facilitator"or an "ambient replenishment controller and regional head of services, infrastructure and procurement" (AKA shelf stacker and caretaker).

    We'd have to make up jobs that aren't necessary, double our HR team to deal with their "duvet day" requirements and increase the size of our legal dept. to manage their gripes.

    I'd suggest we ship them all to China - a hearty dose of reality awaits ...

    1. Dave Gregory
      Thumb Down

      Dear sir,

      May I suggest that you spend a while working in an understaffed, underfunded, high stress environment, such as that which I and many of my public sector colleagues do, and you might just realise that what you are typing is a torrent of ill-informed, prejudiced cow excrement.

      Thank you.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Dose of reality...

      @Jay Jaffa You're the one who needs a dose of reality. I work in the private sector and know a number of public sector workers. They work harder, longer and are under much more pressure than anyone I know in the private sector. They're also paid a lot less.

      You're obviously in a nice cosy world. In the real world people haven't got time to surf the net browsing the Reg, even over their lunchbreak.

  2. drifta

    Doesnt suprise me

    Anyone who has tried to get anything done via the council is generally met with jobsworths and people who have no idea what they are doing. I wouldn't employ ex-council staff and I doubt most people would...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Doesnt suprise me

      Given the years of crap buggy code that microsoft has foisted on me, one might assume that I would consider ALL MS staff as unable to spell the word TEST let alone do it.

      However when hiring, I look through the CV's, and actually select based on total background and experience, and not just the last job, or one particular employer or sector experience.

      I've found that I end up with good, productive, dev team as result.

      Managers that don't leave their personal pre-conceptions at the door, are letting down their staff, and damaging the bottom line.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Short Sighted

    Having worked in both Financial Services and the Public Sector, I can personally testify that most IT staff in Fin.Serv have it easy, and are not pushed to greater creativity in developing solutions.

    Any local government IT worker has had to learn how to create bricks without straw, and they handle a greater range of issues every week than a similar post in financial services.

    For example one UK insurer complained that it had 14 claims systems, at a unitary council just down the road, the environmental health it team (usually around 10 people on staff), had to hold up over 70 applications, some of them serious safety implications, and keep up with the avalanche of new legislation comng out HMG.

    Employers who look at industry rather than skills and experience are short sighted to say the least.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      AC, whose side are you on?

      Typical for the council to hold things up... If it was private enterprise it would get on with the job of complying.

  4. Douglas Lowe

    How does this survey make sense?

    The only information of value that can be taken from this survey is that private companies wont be creating jobs as fast as the government is sacking public service workers. Asking companies if they would employ ex-public service staff strikes me as such a poorly defined question, with no situational context, that the statistics are meaningless noise used to back up a newspaper article with predefined conclusions.

    What a waste of time and effort - this would never happen in the highly efficient private sector would it.

    Oh, hang on a second...

  5. Anonymous Coward


    I too have worked in both private and public sectors and from my experience in public sector work, which ended about 7 years ago, the types of people seemed to polarized. There were some staggeringly talented people with knowledge of IT that would wipe the floor with anyone but they were told to keep it under wraps by dimwitted management types who didn't want to rock the boat. Just stick to the brief. you're told. Get the job done, go home, come back next day. Repeat and rinse until pension day arrives.

    Due to this prejudice some very talented people are going to be missed simply for taking a job in the wrong place.

    1. MinionZero

      @don't rock the boat & same in all businesses of all sizes

      @"keep it under wraps by dimwitted management types who didn't want to rock the boat. Just stick to the brief. you're told. Get the job done, go home, come back next day. Repeat and rinse until pension day arrives."

      I've experienced this in the private sector as well, (time and time again), its not just public sector, it affects all businesses of all sizes. It occurs more often in larger corporations (simply due to more people in large corporations and so more with this pattern of behaviour and they can hide more effectively in large corporations). These management types thrive in corporations from middle management to upper management and they are far more interested in playing office politics like rearrange departments to give them more power, than actually getting the work done. They are also very good at blaming everyone else for their own mistakes, whilst always being up the front to say its their idea, when things go well.

      I strongly suspect there's an element of that in this news about bosses reluctance to take people from the public sector, because they wouldn't want to hire office politics type people and larger corporate like organisations suffer from office politics types who thrive in that kind of corporate environment.

      Unfortunately in business, (whatever business) you find these types. You even find them in smaller companies, but there its even worse, as they can often be the boss! ... Then you really are in trouble, because nothing you do will ever truly give you a return on investment, because the boss is always determined to say its his actions and not yours that makes the differences. (But then that allows the boss to say, no you're not getting a pay rise, whilst they are happy to fill their pockets with the profits from your efforts).

      When they say "Just stick to the brief" what they really mean (though their two faced words) is that they don't want you to stand out. They want you to be compliant to their rule over you. Rock the boat and you are first out the door the next time redundancies come alone. Rock the boat and you don't get promoted. (They think, why give you any power when they fear you will seek to question them even more in the future, with your new found power). They only want "yes" men. People who do what they are told. That isn't what's best for the company, its what's best for them.

      If you haven't already guessed, the people who behave like this are the Narcissistic Personality Disordered people (NPD) in society. Their actions show how self interested and two faced they are and they will seek ways to undermine you, whilst they really enjoy having the power of being superior over you. (Its why they are so effective in fighting to the top in politics). :(

      Its also why business is so difficult, because every company is up against some ruthless companies with Narcissistic bosses, just as every department head in large organisations has to fight against some Narcissistic department heads, who seek to undermine and sideline them, to gain more power over more people. It doesn't mean all managers are Narcissistic, but the most powerful ones are far more often Narcissistic. The office politics power games they play are not in the organisations best interests, its in their best self-interests. Corporations or government organisations, it makes no difference, a minority of the population are playing these games (for their own gain) and we are all up against their hidden battle against us. Its why business is so difficult. :(

      Its also a sobering thought when looking for a new job, to try to avoid these type of people in the future. Not that easy as unfortunately a lot of bosses are like them. Worse still, no sooner do you find a good boss (if you are lucky) and then you unfortunately find ruthless bad bosses in other companies seeking to undermine and wipe out their business (so you then have to think about updating your CV again, ready for your next redundancy notice). :( ... and so the cycle continues ... unless you are very lucky. :(

      p.s. as you can tell I feel strongly about this. Its partly because like these poor sods in the public sector, my CV is now back up to date again as well, so to speak! :( ... still once again my current bosses (just like previous bosses) will walk away with millions in their pockets, so it won't be a total loss! :S ... The drink icon, as I need one after thinking about all this!. :(

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Peanuts anyone?

    Seems about right; pay peanuts and don't be surprised what you get. Low rates compared with the private sector with little chance of following a technical specialism, e.g. not everyone wants to be a manager.

    It's astounding that there's no IT-specialist civil-service grades. Vets, economists, lawyers, but not IT specialists. Oh, of course, that policy was set by a SFB manager.

    Managers need to learn their place: without techies they can't "achieve results through the efforts of others". The private sector's learnt this, why can't the public sector?

    1. Dave 3

      Public sector is not underpaid

      IT may well be a separate case, but on the whole, public sector workers are not paid less than private sector workers. If anything, they're paid more.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Public sector is not underpaid

        One might suggest that "the tax payers alliance" is not exactly an unbiassed source of information.

        Having had to run an IT team in the public sector, I just had to accept for a fact that my main vendor would poach my staff, once I had them trained up, as they could offer far more money (30%+), plus a company BMW.

        It was in someways a back handed compliment to the staff selection and training.

        The only two weapons I had in the staff retention arsenal, was I could offer a wide range of interesting stuff to work on, more so than at a software & consultancy shop, and I looked after and supported the staff .

        1. Dave 3

          How about the office of national statistics?

          The Taxpayers' Alliance used public data sources, you're free to check them.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More Nigel Numpties on the dole

    Business has enough problems without having to soak up government's leftovers.

  8. Richard Jones 1

    No Real Surprises

    Think about what will happen. The council will go through a simple process, only slightly modified between different councils.

    1) Which will cause most public impact, think about firing them first to make a point?

    2) How hard would it be to replace them if the money is subsequently found, if hard retain, if not fire?

    3) Do they bring in money or cost money, if revenue generating or supporting keep, otherwise fire them.

    4) Who do we not want.

    Business and even some councils recruit on a similar process;

    1) Do we need more staff?

    2) What can this skill set do for us?

    3) How much value can they add?

    3) Can we afford them?

    If asked,

    "Would you like someone else's rejects?"

    most people would say


    as a first reaction.

    Ask the right question get a good headline, time will be the only way to find out if the displaced staff have a market value

    Get the CV right, present yourself in a good light, show how you deliver value and your future will be rather brighter.


  9. Anonymous Coward

    No difference between Public Sector and Private Sector

    People are people - they will behave with integrity or not, according to their personality rather than where they work.

    Remember, this country has been brought to its knees financially by the private sector. The bankers etc all have been rewarded very handsomely for their incompetence (or whatever)

    1. Dave 3


      This country has been brought to it's knees by the previous government overspending for the past decade. The bankers just provided the tax revenue.

      Over the same period the Australian government paid down their national debt.

    2. Andy Hall

      Re:No difference between Public Sector and Private Sector

      I have to agree with Dave 3 - the best description of this I have heard can be seen here:

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Dumb but true

    Unfortunately this level of thinking is actually quite typical of UK business - which explains a lot. I've heard that certain companies bin unread any CV that has those deathly phrases on it.

    It's very much a 'kick the cat' ideology, the concept that even these 'business people' have failed in the international marketplace, they are at least better than 'public servants'.

    The reality is that those schooled in the techniques of government are far more skilled at multidimensional management than the typical UK business type - balancing ten things at once is just tickover. I've known many than have jump ship for the commercial world, and almost universally they have done well and reported back "its easier and better paid".

    Frankly, given the stuff-up the cons are making of these cuts, I'd expect the sharper businesses to be buying in well connected staff to position themselves from the wealth of outsourcing that will hit when people realise they've sacked the people they need to make things work. While there are time servers, they are the ones most likely to be in the civil service to the bitter end.

  11. creepytennis

    Culture shock works both ways

    Having worked in both public and private sectors, there are some extremely talented people in both, and a similar number of clock-watchers.

    However, it's definitely true to say that the culture, outlook and personalities you find in each sector are very different. If we do see a mass exodus of former public sector workers to the private sector, the new approaches which they bring are likely to benefit business in the medium to long term.

    Of course, quite a lot of people who have become comfortable in their private sector roles will be challenged by these people and their ideas. Perhaps that's the real reason that they don't want to hire them?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And this is news?

    Overpaid, underworked jobsworths with extreme negative attitudes - not really surprised the private sector don't want 'em.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      what experience do you have to make that claim?

      I assume that you actually have some evidence to back this up which makes it unique compared to, say, the banking sector

      Or did you just cut and paste it from The Daily Mails website

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Herp derp - AC @13:48 21/2

        Oh right - so the only private sector is financial?

        First hand experience of dealing with them and with other private sector workers.

        Check the Audit Commission's report on absenteeism in the public and private sectors.

        See the difference?

        Those who can, do.

        Those who can't, teach.

        Those who can't do or can't teach get a job for life with the public sector.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    too true

    I got this treatment from a combination of a recruitment agency and a consultancy whose name begins with M and got taken over last year.

    They also asked quite a lot of questions about my age which I would have thought were illegal these days

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Nearly right

    Not equipped to work for us

    Should read

    Not equipped for work

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some contributors really or to get out more and meet their neighbours...

    Or they are benighted Sociopaths.

    FFS these people are like ones you come across everyday. Most are regular human beings. Without doubt a small percentage will be ill equipped technologically and attitudinaly to cope with Private Enterprise but most should be able to get on in the corporate sector.

    What this survey is really saying is "If these folks want a job - and they probably will - don't expect a pay rise to come into Private/Corporate sector. We will take you on if we can use you to drive down wages...) Without market expansion, most businesses have the necessary numbers of UK folks to manage nicely. No need for more workers unless they are cheap, fearful and fit in. "Welcome compliant ex Public Sector employees."

    As with any redundancy all the folks that go wont be 'crap', they'll just be the surplus who cannot be integrated.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Dear AC,

      "Some contributors really or to get out more..."

      Did you mean that they OUGHT to get out more?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yes, well spotted.

        I realised after I'd sent it

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some nutters on here ...

    The next people I interview will be asked about their attitude to public sector workers.

    I doubt anybody above would have the gall to answer honestly in an interview. Actually I doubt that any of the whiners above are actually in a postion to interview anyone. Maybe they feel threatened. Bless.

    (For what it's worth I've found the laziest, most complacent workers in the insurance industry - would this make me biased against anyone coming from that background ? No)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: Honest answers in interview


      no fucker answers honestly in an interview. Neither the interviewer nor the interviewee - they both give the answers they think the other wants to hear. On the rare occasion these answers coincide with the truth it is done so by the fickle finger of fate rather than conscious design

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: lies catch up with you

        I would far rather find out I was the wrong person for a position during the interview phase than three months in.

        I have an approximately 80% success rate at £100k (+/- £20k) positions. so I'll stick with my technique thanks.

  17. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Pay now for handouts from the previous government

    This is true and inevitable - most ex-public sector workers will be pre-judged as undesirable candidates in the private employment.

    The reason here is objective - the previous Labourast regime has created a huge number of meaningless make-work jobs in order to bribe the electorate into voting for them. People employed in those positions would have become used to being paid a lot for doing not so much. There is no place in private business for employees like that.

    The people spoiled by government employment will have to seriously readjust their attitude and their opinion of themselves before they will be able to compete for private employment.

    The IT sector will actually have it easier than most as even if you maintain systems that don't produce any value for the economy you still need the skills to maintain those systems. But community support paperclip bending and unbending officers will face a serious problem...

  18. Anonymous Coward

    It's not unusual

    Going back a few years, there where a lot of job working on these new financial instruments, and only people who had previously worked on them could possibly understand them (I thought this a rather big headed view at the time)

    Year later, world economy in the tank, due to the "complex financial instruments", it turns out the banks where playing at reinsurance (very simple Re at that), with out any of the reinsurance regulations or safeguards, and if they had hired a BA with reinsurance knowledge, they would have been screaming about the exposure and lack of controls.

    This just demonstrates that "anti-" the other guy is not just limited to sector v sector, but also occurs within a sector.

    As a BA I have to say I have encountered far to many people that have an over-inflated view of how unquie and complex their own job is.

  19. James Marten

    Just one example...

    I don't need to do any more than point to the story adjacent to this one on your front page:

    "Passport office loses applications"

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Ref: Just one example.

      Obviously never work (they always remember the one time you drop the ball, not the other 9 times you dug'em out the sh*t, or that it worked 99% of the time)

      The public sector tends to have it's fumbles broadcast, where as private companies get it swept under the carpet. (we seriously need disclosure laws introduced to improve security)

      I can personally name a Large UK Financial Services company that managed to fail to pay income tax on the pensions it was paying. the result a very rushed project to fix the glaring hole, a cheque from the company to the tax man paying it's customers outstanding tax bill, letters to the customers explaining they had previously paid all the tax, but from next month they would have to pay it.

      NOTHING in the Daily Mail or FT.

      Something to bear in mind is that most of the big system foul ups have been done by private sector IT shops working on the tax payer dime, and most of the trully stupid ideas have come from the big (private sector) consultancy firms, under the heading of improvements.

  20. Raymondo B

    Corporate wasters

    How I hate these cocky corporate types! There's some first class staff in the public sector who could be very high earners in the private sector if that was their thing. But instead they want to help society rather than pay off greedy shareholders! Grrr....

  21. Anonymous Coward

    I am surprised

    working in a FTSE100 company - there is just as much bureaucracy as in the government department I left, however that is over a decade ago. I must admit private sector does it better - i didn't think you could find companies worse than used by HMG, but the private sector found them

  22. Anonymous Coward


    This is utter drivel, and I expect most people's experience at dealing with phone answering jobsworths has coloured their entire perception of public servants.

    I work as an IT Manager in local authority controlled schools, my pay is significantly less than what I would get in industry for the devices and users supported and the fact that any IT failure stops at my door (the LEA internet goes down, try explaining to 80 teachers why they can't show YouTube to the kids).

    What I find offensive is that I have chosen a career path that allows me to use my skills to help educate the next generation, and I resent that because of this I am now grouped into the "overpaid, underworked jobsworth" category.

    IT technical staff in schools work exceptionally hard, have a working knowledge of an exceptionally large range of technologies and devices and are paid in relation to those in the private sector exceptionally little. IT Manager of a large secondary with ~120 staff over 1200 kids you'll be on your own, or possibly with one technician on a wage usually under £28k.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm not surprised

    On the odd occasion I've had to deal with public service employees at the pointy end, I've failed to come away with any sense of competence, instead seeing people who seem to go to their job every day, go through the motions and never take any pride in what they do. I dread dealing with the NHS at any level (and, based on experience of simple things like repeat prescriptions at our GP practice, I dread ever being seriously ill). Likewise, I don't ever want to be unemployed again after having to deal with the Department of Work and Pensions for a short time.

  24. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "Financial mathmatics"

    Where space is not just curved. It's bent.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From experience of both

    I've worked in both and they're both mixed - some extremely hardworking and competent types in the public sector, but not all. Exactly the same in the private sector - and when I left the public sector I was thinking how lean the private sector would - its not and appears to be no better than the public sector - espescially in large companies. I just think in that some cases the private sector businesses are missing a trick.

    1. Dave 3

      Public sector productivity gets worse over time

      "I left the public sector I was thinking how lean the private sector would - its not and appears to be no better than the public sector "

      That observation doesn't seem to match the facts:

      "According to the ONS, public sector productivity fell by 3.4% in the 10 years from 1997 — compared with a rise of 28% in the private sector over the same period."

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And this is why

    UK Business can go fuck itself...

    Sorry, had to say that, but having had to deal with both sets here (incompetent 'ex-council' staff through to arrogant MBA wielding prick 'captains-of-industry-and-master-of-the-universe' types) I've fairly strong opinions on this.

    The public sector has as much real talent as the private sector, and both sectors have their fair share or drek (e.g. hello there, agency IT staff!) , but as various other comments have stated, the public sector dirty laundry tends to get aired a lot more. Some people choose to work in the 'public sector' as they have a misguided idea about life, they don't realise it's truly all about making money, not personal happiness or 'giving back to the community' they were brought up in (or any other sort of emotional sentimentalist socialistic claptrap.)

    The problem I have is this 'superior' attitude is far too common in the business community in Britain, if someone is capable of doing the job, what the hell does it matter where they were previously employed? I'm sorry, but this stinks of the same good old British attitudes coming to the fore...'old school tie'..'Oxbridge' ..etc. etc. etc.

    From recent experience, we've picked up a number of specialist staff from various 'private sector' companies, foisted upon us, I hasten to add, by a personnel Dept that believes that ex-private sector staff are best, and one that really needs to learn to read between the lines when dealing with CVs (also one that needs to involve someone from the technical side when it comes to interviewing these sods, this is now in hand). Best example from recent months, one character tasked by a project manager to do a job to a pre-existing spec tried to both change the spec and then proceeded to tell the project manager how to run the project..y'see he used to work for one of the 'big' companies, he obviously knows more about these things than we do..needless to say, he's no longer with us.

    I know some people in the private sector who have a policy of 'only hiring graduates', fine, its their decision, and there's plenty of the buggers loitering around out there to choose from, 'tis a pity they've not chosen well and I then have to put up with their gripes about how their schedules are slipping etc etc. (We have a number of new graduates as well, they're ok, do reasonable work, but gods, are they slow at producing, even for the simplest of tasks)

    Final bit of the rant/spiel,

    I have a lot of dealings with people who are unemployed, it appals me some of the skills these people have which are being wasted (hopefully one less, as of last week I've set the wheels in motion to get one guy employed by us asap after seeing examples of his designs and finished products)

    I know people with over a decade of 'commercial' programming experience under their belt who are out there driving bloody mini-cabs as they can't get programming jobs. The same applies to a number of trades, science and engineering. I know people, highly skilled in their chosen fields of study, who work in jobs where their talents are not being utilised in any way at all.

    I also know an idiot-bastard-son of a director of a private sector company whose only role in life was to crash expensive cars and to rip the bottom out of daddy's yacht whilst out sailing the thing drunk , needless to say he was on the company payroll as a manager, sans qualifications of any sort. I should now add that this private sector company, under this most excellent management, went titsup, and was bought over by a.n.other company. Pity, it had been in their family for almost 100 years.

    Hire on ability, not on bloody prejudice.

  27. Syntax Error

    Same Old Prejudices

    Nothing new here. You have inefficiency and jobsworths in all industries public and private. Council workers are particularly picked on because people don't like councils.

  28. Scorchio!!


    Public sector employees tend to have a different work culture, and it does not match the private sector. Condemning the private sector to adopt public sector standards could be dangerous. 'Nuff said.

  29. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    So what have we learned?

    Some public sector staff are *very* good.

    Some public sector staff are *very* bad.

    Ditto for private companies.

    And it's *difficult* to tell the good from the bad.

    CV's should be read *very* carefully. Especially for long spells of "paid leave," IE suspension.

    Managers either can't spot rubbish staff or can't manage to *do* something permanent about them. Reasons range from being a friend (Or as one such "friend" put it in conversation "I can get away with murder as I lick the managers a*s") to "I'm scared of the union. "

    This suggests a generation of gutless incompetent managers who feel threatened by their competent staff, lack the backbone to fire incompetent staff (*all* public bodies have a discipline and dismissal procedure. It can range from quite reasonable to stupidly drawn out in the case of teachers in the UK) and welcome "friends" who are actually the biggest threat to their job they will find.

    There's *plenty* of prejudice to go round. If you're not sure you're prejudiced ask yourself would you be *this* doubtful about employing them if they had a *different* background? If not then your looking at their background, not the person you met or the CV you read.

    A suggestion.

    Make sure an IT line manager attends the interviews. Stick to a standard set of questions and *most* of all set up *practical* test of the finalists.

    Nothing too time consuming or complex but something some one with the level of experience they *claim* to have should find straightforward. You're hiring someone on their ability to *do* something, not tell you how good they are at doing it.

    Incidentally no one has mentioned how staff become institutionalized and unable to accept change. In a different context Jeff Greason of Xcor Aerospace said he'd never heard of anyone who'd "grown up" in the cost plus world of big aerospace being successful in a new space business. They could not accept that there is no reward for *effort* only results. He put the bar at which they became unfit for commercial companies at around 10-13 years in.

    Have I missed anything?

  30. James Marten

    Even if one is just as bad as the other...

    ...the public should be entitled to expect a *far higher* standard of service from the public sector as from a private company. Why? - because in most cases the public sector enjoys the advantage of a legal compulsion to use their services, or to pay money for them even if you don't use them at all.

    If you don't like the way that a particular bank or its management works, for example, there is no compulsion to have an account at that bank - or at any bank at all. Same for a supermarket, oil company or airline. But if you think that your local council or HMRC are worthless and inefficient, or its chief is paid too much, that's tough - there is no option but to continue to stump up your tax, under penalties up to and including prison. Backed up with infinite legal powers which will be used against you with no hestitation.

    The public sector needs to realise who, and by what means, pays its wages.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    public sector/ private differences

    Based on many years private sector (major bank) and only a little public sector.

    Public sector "gold plates" legislation, over interprets, over delivers, uses it as a basis for more box-ticking exercises. Private sector lead plates it so it sinks without trace. Take Portable Appliance Testing. We did it once. No equipment failed (including some relative antiques) - a waste of time and money as well as being disruptive to normal work. Subsequently we took the risk of not repeating. In my Public sector exposure PAT was annual and expensive (and never found any fails). Similarly COSHH - we did one massive exercise reporting on what kind of soap in the staff toilets etc - concluded that unilever or whoever were probably not trying to poison us and doubtless we still have folders neatly filed away, gathering dust, never to be used again - or updated. Not cost effective, barely relevant to office workers.

    Private sector sacks people for not being able to perform to the required standard. Public sector helps them find another job in the same organisation so they become another manager's problem until the point that they are made redundant with good redundancy package (I know a public sector manager offered redundancy at 52, pension contribution made up to age 60 and 2 years pay as redundancy money - grabbed it with open arms). Screw up badly enough in public sector and enjoy being suspended on full pay.

    As a result of labour Brown pensions policies Private sector finds final salary schemes unaffordable, most have gone. Public sector - little change.

    Private sector - customers get competitive choice. Public - you get what you're given and if you don't like it, tough. Don't complain or next time they'll remember you and the outcome will be worse (hello medical profession).

    Private sector cost saving reorganisation: flatten the management structure get rid of a few high paid staff, freeze on recruiting, no more contractors/consultants. Public sector: employ some high paid consultants to advise where to economise (the role of a consultant is to find out what answer the employing manager wants then deliver that as an "authoratitive independent recommendation"), cut low-paid front line staff because a) lower redundancy cost. b) resultant poorer service will raise public disquiet - which can be blamed on Government cuts c) The bosses making the decisions are hardly likely to get rid of their management buddies (or themselves) d) larger number of jobs cut makes it look as if the managers have delivered - even if the cost saving of binning one manager is more than losing 2 front-line.

    Private sector - poor financial results for the year: salary freeze. Public sector no such commercial pressure. Because of virtual monopoly of public sector organisations unions can hold us to ransom so don't even think about lower than inflation pay rises - and who ultimately pays for those? Those in productive (private sector) employment, providing goods and services that others will pay for.

    Examples - Teachers, we have nearly half a million. Year on year standards decline only to be concealed by exams getting easier and schools choosing the easiest exams and most lenient exam boards. My kids school was quite clear that they were entering kids for one board in one subject because the pass rates were higher. FE college director told me they look at an applicants results and adjust to compensate to correct for an exam board they have found to be over-generous. Don't tell me results are improving because kids are getting smarter, I've seen the workbooks and exam questions - A level syllabus/questions look more like O levels of my day. How many teachers get fired? virtually none. I can remember people being escorted off the premises of my Bank employer for fouling up. We only got pay increases if we had hit our individual targets. The overall annual pay rise was roughly in-line with inflation - good performers got more, poor performers less and repeated poor performance led to dismissal.

    Of course teachers are stressed, consider themselves overworked (they get very edgy if we mention their 9-3:30 working day and long school holidays) and half say they would jump ship if they could find alternative employment (no surprise that they can't - if you were an employer would you want one?). They as a profession have brought it upon themselves. It's been demonstrated time and again that competition, recognition and reward for achievements, discipline, required standards of behaviour and dress strongly enforced lead to success for pupils and a better working experience for the staff. That's how superheads fix schools on special measures. So why don't the others copy that proven effective model?

    Sorry (not very) for picking on teachers, I could do the same for medical professions and just don't get me started on social "workers".

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Note on Jobsworth

    Whilst the private and public sector have jobsworths, (I've had to deal with a number of these in IT Security), but some times they are right.

    A bank IT security admin, bends the rules, and the bank gets taken for £m's

    A council Port Health Officer, bends the rules, and 40 tonnes of carcenogenic food enters the UK food distribution network.

    Then you have the idiot that decides your using too many pens, and now you have to fill in the requisition form to get a birio (this was a UK retail bank), turning a 10p pen into a £1.10 pen with the added admin.

    So just because they stick to the rules doesn't mean they're mindless pencil pushers, they could have your best interest in mind.

  33. Michael Dunn


    Hey, Atonis, this "huge pool of public funds available" means the money screwed out of the pockets of you and me at an ever-increasing rate for which services are continuously deteriorating!

    How many councils have moved to two-weekly bin collections? Here in Crete, for a council tax of about 90p per square metre per year, the bins are emptied every day except Sundays.

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