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Some 330,000 people are expected to lose their public sector jobs over the next four years due to the government's cost cutting measures. Whilst the private and the public sectors have many similarities, the perceptions the sectors have about each other could limit the ability of ex-public sector employees to quickly return to the labour market thereby risking longer term joblessness, according to a new report published jointly by staffing agency Hays and the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).
In the report entitled 'The Challenges of Transition: from Public to Private', the LCCI and Hays have identified six critical steps to ensure the successful transition of the workforce from the public to the private sector:
1. Encourage better understanding - Coaching, mentoring and peer-support schemes for public sector workers prior to, during and after transition to the private sector should be encouraged. These would increase the retention of new employees and also enable the private sector to identify the skills available in the public sector.
2. Incentivise the private sector - The government should subsidise recruitment and training costs for private sector employers who hire public sector employees. One option would be to adapt the Redundancy Action Scheme in Wales, which gives employers a contribution to salaries and training if they hire someone who has been made redundant.
3. Identify regional skills gaps - Local Enterprise Partnerships and recruiters should work with Trade Associations and professional membership bodies to identify the skills shortages that will be created by future job vacancies and look at how former public employees can fill those gaps.
4. Review on-boarding procedures - Private sector employers should review their onboarding (induction programmes for new employees) in anticipation of recruiting people from the public sector to ensure successful transitions.
5. Enhance existing support programmes - Public sector employers should be more proactive in their support for workers facing the prospect of redundancy, with practical job-seeking and career planning programmes specifically designed to equip them for the private sector.
6. Promote self-reliance and resourcefulness - Public sector workers should be encouraged to work with recruiting experts who understand both the private and public sector and can provide free advice on CVs, job applications and interviews.
Mark Staniland, Director at Hays, commented "as the government cuts begin to take effect there is a growing pressure on the private sector to create new jobs. There is no doubt that public sector employees have many skills in need right across the private sector. However, it is unreasonable to believe that transferring a large proportion of the workforce will not need specialist help to progress smoothly. The government must act now and put provisions in place to support the workers and both sectors need to work together to make sure the skills available are used to their full advantage."
Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive of the LCCI, said "we hope this report will make a meaningful contribution to this important debate, which in turn will help get people in to new jobs while giving a shot in the arm to the London and UK economies. In the months to come there will be many talented individuals from the public sector coming on to the job market which is a great opportunity for employers looking to bring in new skills and ideas to their business."
"There are some common misconceptions that the private and public sectors share about each other, but we are confident with the right support and the right attitude from both employers and employees any perceived differences can be overcome to the benefit of all concerned."
Tom Hadley, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation's Director of Policy and Professional Services, commented "this is an important and increasingly pressing issue. The transition from public to private sector creates a number of challenges, some real, some perceived. In most cases there is a gap, not a gulf. Recruiters can play a major role in bridging this gap and helping individuals make the leap of faith that working in a different working environment entails."