Headlines: June 25th, 2012

Public sector employers are struggling to recruit and retain senior staff. They face increasing problems as skilled individuals shy away from the sector as the impact of the cuts is felt and the image of the sector wanes.

These are the top line findings of the annual Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development/Hays Resourcing and Talent Planning survey of more than 500 employers.

Recruitment of managers and senior level staff within the public sector is a particular problem. 38 per cent of public sector organisations surveyed reported that it was especially hard to fill vacancies at manager and specialist levels and a further 19 per cent reported problems with finding candidates for senior manager and director level roles. Pay freezes coupled with a perceived reduction in benefits as a consequence of pension reforms may be responsible, as 43 per cent of public sector employers cited pay as one of the reasons for their difficulties.

The public sector was also almost three times more likely, 24 per cent compared to 9 per cent, than private sector services to report that the image of the sector was a problem in terms of attracting new recruits. This comes as large public sector employers are reporting more vacancies compared to this time last year.

Alongside recruitment, retention of employees has also been an issue, with two-thirds of organisations reporting problems. Despite on-going austerity measures, retention challenges appear to have particularly increased in the public sector, with managers and professional level staff reported as the most difficult to retain. 40 per cent reported this as an issue compared to just 25 per cent in 2011.

Rebecca Clake, Research Adviser at CIPD, said: “Headlines focus on high levels of unemployment and public sector cut backs, 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.”

She added: “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.”