Private or Public Sector: Which Sector Suits You Best?

By Career Savvy

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For our economy and communities to run smoothly we need both the private and public sector to offer sufficient levels of employment. But how do you know which sector will suit you best? Whether you’re looking to get your first step on the ladder or you’re changing careers, there are of course pros and cons to consider. The truth is, it depends on what is more important to you and your personal preferences as some of the pros below may be a con to someone else. To give you an idea of which sector is best for you, check out our comparison below. 

Private Sector
Pros:

  • More flexibility: There are more opportunities to change jobs in order to find a company culture and working environment that suits you. If you don’t get on with your current boss and/or colleagues, you can simply look elsewhere for the same role in a business that is more suitable. Furthermore, hours are more or less decided by the business owner rather than dictated by a strict governing body.
  • More jobs: Due to the number of businesses that make up the private sector, there are far more job opportunities available. In 2013, the private sector accounted for 80.9% of jobs in comparison to 19.1% in the public sector.
  • Better progression: In general, it is easier to both receive a pay rise and progress within a company in the private sector. This is due to salaries being more negotiable and such decisions being made by managers of individual companies rather than a higher authority.

Cons:

  • Less benefits: Companies are not instructed on what benefits to supply their employees with, therefore it entirely depends on the generosity of your employer whether you receive a good benefit package. If holidays, retirement payments, etc. are important to you, then it may be harder to find your perfect job within this sector.
  • Tough competition: Many private sector jobs require a minimum qualification of a degree which means that there are less opportunities for those who don’t possess one. There’s also a lot of competition once you’re employed, therefore you have to be constantly aware of the likelihood of losing your job.
  • Stressful environment: This high level of competition and constant demands to meet deadlines means the working environment can be very stressful. You’ll need to have the ability to deal with obstacles quickly and effectively.
     

Public Sector
Pros:

  • Stability: There is always a demand for public sector jobs due to the service they provide to the community and organisations being backed by the government, so jobs are more stable.
  • Benefits: Although some speculation has occurred over the state of public sector pensions, the fact these roles offer guaranteed pension schemes is a plus. According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, public sector benefits are on average still 14% higher than comparable private sector benefits.
  • Working environment: Not only are you rewarded by the feeling of helping the community every day, but the environment is less competitive than the private sector. Your work can genuinely make a difference to the world around you which leads to a fulfilling career.

Cons:

  • Slow growth: Whether you’re promoted in the public sector largely relies on years of experience rather than your skill and aptitude in the role. Therefore it can take longer to work your way up to senior roles.
  • Salary: Starting salaries are often lower than private sector jobs and with it being harder to work your way up via a promotion, it could take some time before you receive a raise. Pay rises are dealt with across the board for positions, not simply decided by the employer like in the private sector.
  • Routine: This may not necessarily be a con for many, but public sector jobs are far more rigid than those in the private sector. Your job will often involve repeating the same duties each day with perhaps little variety. For those who prefer more diversity in their work life, this sector would be less suitable.


Before making your decision about which sector to work in, consider the above advantages and disadvantages of each as well as thinking about the values that are most important to you. Are you looking to find a role that’s rewarding and stable? Or do you prefer working towards deadlines and earning a high salary? To increase your chances of finding the best role for you it’s important to be clear about exactly what it is you’re looking for.

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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