As the United Kingdom's engineering businesses boom, the number of people seeking jobs within the industry is rising - prompting many trained engineering candidates to broaden their job search from the private to the public sector. Moves into public sector engineering roles offer a number of specific advantages and engineers both at the start of their careers and those transitioning from the private sector should be aware of the possibilities the change can bring.
Public sector jobs take place across a number of organised bodies, which include both central and local government branches. Since national and local authorities are involved in a huge number of engineering projects at any given time, candidates may find work in a variety of contexts, including highways, rivers, waste management, the NHS and the military. Recent flooding problems across the UK highlight the need for skilled engineering staff working in a public setting. Similarly, the rapid increase in fracking initiatives is likely to generate an urgent need for trained public sector employees over the coming years.
Public sector engineering jobs are vital and demanding - and place employees in administrative, academic, practical and highly technical work environments. While every public sector organization presents its own challenges, specific examples of on-going work include the Met Office, where engineers are required to maintain equipment, and NHS hospitals, where estate planning and building management are crucial.
In some instances, the private and public sectors converge - and government organisations contract private businesses to carry out public work. This kind of contracted work includes a variety of building projects, especially highway and road works, where the construction of motorways and bridges forms an essential part of the United Kingdom's infrastructure.
Beyond the sheer variety of engineering roles available, the benefits of working in the public sector are numerous:
Salary: public sector salaries are highly competitive and comparable to those in the private sector. In addition, public sector roles tend to come with generous benefits - and offer graduates higher starting pay grades.
Security: while private sector companies are vulnerable to market shifts and instability, the jobs of public employees enjoy a certain amount of professional protection against closures or adverse financial conditions.
Hours: public sector work hours tend to be less demanding than those in the private sector, which is often highly pressurized and unforgiving. A lot of government organisations offer flexitime work hours and accommodate part time employees or job-share positions.
Training: public sector organisations aim to realize the professional potential of their workforce - and offer industry qualifications and training programmes to their employees - which in turn may open up further career opportunities.
Pensions: guaranteed pension schemes are a substantial advantage of public sector jobs. Public sector pension benefits tends to be higher than those found in private sector roles.
Service: perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of a public sector engineering role - or any public position - is the opportunity for employees to directly benefit their country and their community. Since taxpayer money funds every public sector job, employees affect the people they serve on both a local and national level.
A bright future
Long term, stable work, competitive salaries and a huge range of benefits are making public sector engineering jobs increasingly popular. As a career stepping stone, a public sector role is a chance for engineers of every level of experience to develop professionally and have a direct effect on the community and people around them.
Find out what local authority roles we have available here