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High-Level Management & Leadership In Demand For The Public Sector

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? If you’re planning on studying for a qualification in management and leadership, you’ve probably got your eyes fixed firmly on a senior business managerial role.

When you’re checking out the jobs market, do you head straight for the business managerial section? Next time you’re looking, be sure to check out the public sector appointments. The chances are, you’ll find plenty of tempting roles. What’s more, it’s pretty much standard for these jobs to require a “recognised management qualification”.

The reality is that a qualification such as the Extended Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership opens doors to careers in areas you’ve perhaps never even considered. If you’ve got management aspirations, there are some reasons why the public sector could very well be a fantastic arena in which to fulfill your potential.

The chance to work for the largest ‘company’ in the country

There’s no getting away from the fact that the public sector is big business. You only have to look at the effects of the recent US federal government shutdown for a taste of what happens when a large chunk of it is no longer there. An estimated 800,000 workers found themselves on involuntary unpaid leave while politicians sought to agree a short-term budget to keep the government funded beyond the fiscal year-end.

A federal system in the US means that actually the majority of public sector workers over there are state rather than federal government employees. Reaching the ‘fiscal cliff’ meant the closing of national parks and even NASA caught the headlines. What the shutdown demonstrates though is how important the public sector is to the economy as a whole. This shutdown is estimated to have cost the US economy $24bn.

The worlwide austerity of the last few years means there’s been plenty of doom and gloom in the headlines.The reality is that compared to most countries the percentage of the workforce employed publicly is fairly standard: although the US only employs around 9% of their workforce in the public sector, Australia manages 16%, Russia weighs in with about 23%, where China’s government provides more than 50% of their working population with a job!

Looking at Europe, the public sector is responsible for employing around 20% of the working population in the UK, 30% in both Germany and Italy, rising to 35% in France. On a purely mathematical basis, wherever in the world you live if you’re confining your job ambitions exclusively to the private sector you’re quite possibly ruling yourself out of a fifth of all available jobs.

The public sector is a huge global employer (image: www.happensingreece.com)

Interested in managing change? The public sector is the place to be

Nothing ever stays the same. Politicians, economists, company CEOs: they all seem to be talking about change. Guiding an organisation through a period of flux and re-structuring demands a special skill-set. A private company is ultimately accountable to its shareholders and the overriding objective is to maximise profits, whereas public servants are accountable to the community – and the taxpayers. Both sectors rightly reward good managers!

Managers in the private sector have to be able to show that they’re ready and able to make the changes that are necessary for the company to reach its full potential. This is why the Management of Change module is an integral part of the Management & Leadership Diploma. It equips students with the ability to identify what needs to be changed within an organisation; how to plan effectively for change and how to successfully implement the change process.

With many governments still struggling to keep public borrowing down, virtually all departments in the UK have been undergoing a streamlining process in the face of budgetary controls. More than ever, managers in the public sector are expected to have specific training in areas such as project, operational and people management and in leadership as a whole – skills traditionally more associated with the private sector.

Are managers in the public sector ‘happier’?

There’s more to work than simply picking up a pay cheque at the end of the month, right? The popular image (up until recently at least) was that if you were a manager in a private company, you’d expect to earn a higher salary than someone with a similar role in the public sector. The public sector on the other hand could offer you greater job security (and even a pension!).

In the UK, you’ll still find that the public sector is the place to be if pension benefits are high on your list of priorities – although changes to the police, National Health Service (NHS) and education schemes suggest that in the long term these benefits might not be quite as attractive as they have been in the past. Against this, it’s worth weighing up the value of the annual bonuses, healthcare discounts and other perks that often come as part of the package if you take up a managerial role in the private sector.

A poll last year suggests that a sense of pride in working in public service – as well as overall ‘personal fulfillment’ was holding up well among public sector workers – despite the current economic pressures.

These high levels of job satisfaction might be due in part to the fact that the ‘customers’ (i.e. ordinary members of the public) seem to be relatively content with the service they’re getting. There is also a degree of security that just isn’t available when you are working with most private companies.

Management Options in the International Public Sector

Being a high-level manager in the public sector can allow you to work in intensely rewarding environments. You don’t have to stay in your home country; the global economy brings global opportunities throughout society.

The range of worthwhile management posts available in international organisations is on the increase: a glance at the jobs pages of The Economist shows opportunities to work in organisations like UNESCO, WHO and the G24.

Plenty of scope to develop a high-level management career where you can really make a difference.

Would you consider using your managerial skills in a public sector role?

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