The public sector covers local councils, the NHS, government departments, the police, fire services, housing associations and the civil service. Careers in this industry are all about working for the public, everything we do is influenced in some way by the people who work in the sector: when we take out the recycling, when we pay tax, when we show our passport at the airport or when we drive down a road. If you have an enthusiasm for politics, policy issues and current affairs – and just wanting to make a difference in other people’s lives – then this could be the industry for you.
Civil Service jobs
Working as part of the Civil Service can be one of the most exciting and rewarding ways of working within central government departments. Civil Service employees help the government to manage and administrate public services, and to develop and implement its policies. These workers are employed within central government departments, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Ministry of Defence.
Careers specifically within local councils are responsible for local services such as housing, recycling, traffic control and community centres. Working in this environment allows people to play a more direct and active role within a very specific area. Often these employees actually live in the same council area in which they are providing services to, and this allows people to develop a direct connection with the valuable work they are doing.
The NHS is the largest employer in Europe and the fifth largest in the world (over one million employees), and understandably employs many people for tons of diverse roles, including administrative, IT and other support roles, as well as doctors, nurses and other medical staff. There are 45 local police forces in the UK, and three special police forces – like the Serious Organised Crime Task Force – so there are plenty of opportunities in this area.
Many careers in the public sector are very different to the typical nine-to-five office job. Careers in the armed forces, police forces, or emergency services can be some of the most exciting, dangerous and hands-on jobs in the world. They require specialist technical and physical training, and have such a huge influence on people’s lives in the UK and across the world.
Public sector apprenticeships
School leavers wanting to work in this sector could do an Intermediate Apprenticeship (Level 2) in business and administration (Police), customer services (local council) and explosives storage and maintenance (British Army).
They could then do an Advanced Apprenticeship (Level 3) in areas like business (Civil Service), communications (British Army) and public service operational delivery.
For those with a good set of A-level results, or those who have completed Advanced Apprenticeships, there are Higher Apprenticeships in digital technology and project delivery (Civil Service), technology (MI5) and public services.
School leavers could also look at the public sector-related courses on offer at further education college and university.