Headlines: May 18th, 2005

Only half of public sector workers feel they are valued at work and two out of three of them believe they are not being given the chance to live up to their potential in the workplace according to a new survey of 3,000 employees by the online learning specialists, SkillSoft.The study found that only 54 per cent of public sector workers feel they are valued compared with six out of ten in the private sector. Two thirds think that they could be doing better in their career.

The study also shows that a large proportion of public sector staff believe they are being discriminated against at work. Of these, 63 per cent say the discrimination is because of their age – 34 per cent say this is because they are too young and 29 per cent because they are too old. A fifth of respondents think their manager does not like them and 17 percent think their managers are worried that staff might be after their job.

More positively, public sector employees are more likely to receive encouragement in their career with two thirds saying their employers encouraged them to develop their skills. That compares to just 56 per cent in the private sector. Public sector workers also get more opportunities for career development. Almost two thirds reported they had access to internal courses compared to just over a third of their opposite numbers in the private sector. Almost half of people working in the public services have opportunities to join external training courses, again many more than in the private sector where the figure is just 29 per cent. Similarly, while 57 per cent of public sector staff taking part in the survey said their employers allocated no time in the working day for their professional development, the figure in the private sector is higher at 70 per cent. Private sector firms, though, are less likely to expect staff to undertake training in their own time.

The findings suggest that if employers were prepared to meet employees half-way and allocate learning time at work, 83 per cent of public sector workers would be prepared to reciprocate by spending some of their own free time on training.

Kevin Young, the managing director of SkillSoft, said it was good to see that employees were being encouraged to develop their skills but it was clear from the study that there were still a large number of people who were not being given the opportunity to live up to their potential at work. “Just consider the productivity gains that could be achieved if the public sector stepped up their commitment to training,” he said.