Public-sector workers 'lack skills for private sector'

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As hundreds of thousands of public-sector employees face losing their jobs after the Comprehensive Spending Review, a leading recruitment company has warned that many such workers are ill-prepared for a move into business.

Hays says more must be done to ensure that newly jobless public-sector workers have a clearer understanding of what skills and experience is needed to make the transition to the private sector.

According to the survey of 1,435 public-sector workers and 348 employers, 85 per cent of candidates coming from the public sector are considering seeking work in private businesses, says Hays. It concluded that they will need professional support if they are able to find work in what remains a very challenging environment.

Among employers, more than 90 per cent of those surveyed go as far as to say that public-sector experience is "not very important" or "not important at all" when hiring staff. This may come as a shock to the third of workers who believe their public-sector background puts them at an advantage, says Hays.

Some 22 per cent of public-sector employees fear their background will put them at a disadvantage in the private sector, says the research. Their fears may be well-founded, with 46 per cent of company bosses saying that previous private-sector experience is very important when hiring.

"Many public-sector workers face an uncertain future," said Mark Staniland, the managing director of Hays Career Transition Services. "To make themselves attractive to the private sector, candidates must understand how their skills and experience are relevant."

A clearer picture on how many public-sector jobs will be cut is likely to emerge this week, after the Government has outlined its spending review.