The Government's spending cuts are creating recruitment problems for public sector organisations as people "shy away" from the sector, a new report warned today.
The image of public sector employment is being hit, particularly at senior level, a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) revealed.
The survey of more than 500 employers found that four out of five reported difficulties in filling vacancies over the past few months.
The biggest increase in recruitment and retention problems was in the public sector, especially at managerial and senior levels.
Pay freezes coupled with a perceived reduction in benefits following the Government's controversial reforms may be responsible, said the report.
The public sector is three times more likely than private firms to report that its image is a problem in terms of attracting new recruits.
Rebecca Clake of the CIPD said: "Headlines focus on high levels of unemployment and public sector cutbacks, but those stark statistics mask an ongoing struggle for employers to find the skills and experience they need to drive their organisations forward.
"This is a particular issue in the public sector where, now more than ever, they require talented and experienced individuals at senior levels of the organisation to help steer them through times of change.
"The image of the public sector is putting off some new recruits. This, coupled with widespread pay freezes and pension reform, makes jobs in public sector organisations less and less appealing to those individuals who have the skills required for the vacancies."
Dave Prentis general secretary of Unison, commented: "It is hardly surprising that senior staff are shunning the public sector. With the latest research suggesting 880,000 public sector job cuts by 2017, why would people risk taking a job that might be the next victim of the Tories' cuts? Why would they accept years of having their pay frozen when they can get better pay and bonuses in the private sector?
"If the public sector continues to be a toxic employer - shunned by senior managers and specialists - the quality of services will drop. It is time the Government recognised the impact of its damaging attacks on the public sector and started investing in vital jobs and services."