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Is the Public Sector ‘recession proof’?


I have just read a CIPD article claiming that the public sector is at present an entirely ‘recession free zone’. The report continues “While private sector employers are shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs and freezing or cutting the pay of millions of employees, their public sector counterparts are mostly maintaining staffing levels and presiding over relatively generous pay increases”.

Personally I think this statement paints a very glamorous picture of how the public sector is coping with the economic situation. It’s hard to ignore the fact that many private sector employers are shedding their workforce but there are plenty of examples of local authorities announcing cuts and I am receiving calls daily from public sector HR professionals concerned about the stability of their departments.

However the article goes on to deal with the more controversial issue of public sector pay, suggesting that this should be capped. Whilst I understand the moral argument, I can only see this causing longer term problems, especially around recruitment.

In my opinion the public sector has never had a better opportunity to engage their private sector counterparts than now, especially at executive levels. In the years I have spent working with the public sector it would be fair to say that it has been unfairly viewed as the poorer relation. Clearly we need to question people’s motives for their sudden interest but if managed effectively, the public sector now has a fantastic talent pool to connect with. They can only do this however by being able to pay competitively and, perhaps even more importantly, retain. Capping salaries will not make this any easier.

Of course this is only my opinion and I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

Here’s the full link:

Lee Burman

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