Most Wanted: Public Sector Careers

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The popular Public Sector offers graduates the chance to "do more with less", according to one graduate.

A recent study by reveals a large number of UK graduates are interested in taking on big issues facing the country, with fifteen per cent of the nation's university-leavers choosing to pursue a career in the Public Sector.

While the number has declined by two per cent over the past ten years, the figures released by the independent graduate job board still indicate a pronounced interest in the sector amongst graduates. One recent graduate, Ben Coates, finds his career serving the public rewarding and dynamic.

"The public service aspect of my role is a real motivator," Ben says. "Knowing that I am helping to solve issues that the country is facing, or to support the running of vital public services, really does make me want to come to work."

Ben studied Human Resources Management at Northumbria University and joined the Civil Service Fast Stream Programme in September 2014. Part of his role involves working to bring more graduates into the Public Sector.

"I have just finished my first 18 month placement working for Civil Service Resourcing, a cross Government expert HR service run from the Cabinet Office," he says.

"I worked on the team that ran the early talent programmes for Government, so apprenticeships, graduate programmes and internships. I had a really varied role covering recruitment, talent, coaching, diversity and a number of other areas."

In his time with the Civil Service, Ben has seen how the Public Sector empowers graduates to battle big issues facing the country. Within his first month, Ben found himself working on a multimillion pound project.

"In my first month I had a request from the Head of the Civil Service and the Minister about how best to implement specific projects on social mobility. About a week later, I found myself writing a submission advising how best to spend about £52 million and thought, this is crazy!"

"I got the opportunity to manage a number of people, to run large scale projects, and provide briefing and submissions to senior officials and Ministers, including personally briefing the Permanent Secretary face-to-face."

Ben first chose a career at the Civil Service because he thought the roles offered unique opportunities.

"The reason I went for the Civil Service was because when they came to my university to talk about the programme, the roles sounded really interesting," he says.

"With most of the private sector companies who came to promote their programmes, the roles were largely the same, for example Marketing, HR or Finance."

Ben argues that at the Civil Service graduates get to work on real projects.

"You get to work on real life issues that you hear about in the news, whether it's dealing with immigration in the Home Office, HS2 in the Department for Transport, preparing for the Budget in the Treasury or running Job Centres out on the front line."

While the Civil Service supports the elected government of the United Kingdom, civil servants are required to remain politically neutral in order to do their work without bias. Ben says graduates sometimes find it difficult to adjust to this requirement.

"There are a few things to get your head around but the main thing is impartiality. This means not expressing personal political views in public and working to support the government of the day, regardless of your own views."

Another requirement for working in the public sector is financial accountability. Ben says graduates must keep in mind it's the taxpayer's money they are using.

"Business expenses exist as you would expect for a big organisation, but you always have to be conscious that it is taxpayer's money you are spending. This means always looking to get the best value for money."

"You also don't get some of the perks of some private sector companies, (so no free coffee in meetings) but again, this is about how we best spend public money."

While the Public Sector is sometimes accused of being a soft option, with slow work rates and high levels of bureaucracy, Ben says he has not found this to be the case.

"Like any really big organisation, there are different cultures and working environments in different areas, however, I have to say that I have been really impressed with the work ethic and high levels of performance of the people working here."

Ben says the challenge of working in the public sector is to work smarter and use less resources.

"It's not the pressured, ridiculous hours of some of the banking industry, but it's no easy ride. The hours are manageable and there is a good culture of making sure you get a good work/life balance, but it is hard work."

"The pace can be incredibly fast and we are always under pressure to do more with less."