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Considering a career in the public sector?

Employability Service

Category: Student support services

1 October 2020

Did you know that over 5.4 million employees (1) or put another way, 1 in 6 employed people in the UK work in the public sector? So many opportunities for so many different degrees...

Public sector jobs span a huge range of careers, from central and local government, teaching, NHS, social care, museums and the criminal justice system. In fact, any organisation run by the government and funded by taxpayers’ money can be classed within the public sector, accounting for over 300 different occupations.

Many people want to make a difference and make the world a better place and there are a number of advantages of working within the public sector. The public sector is very inclusive in terms of degree type, so you can move into an area that perhaps you didn’t study during your time at University. Prospects is a good starting place for a sector overview.


Firstly, there is usually a lot of flexibility around the working hours which means a good work-life balance with job sharing and part time roles a possibility.

Training and investment in staff are a priority and many organisations are keen to increase their staff’s potential. Greater training opportunities lead to greater progression and so you can advance your career quicker.

Salaries are competitive when compared with the private sector and there are clearly defined pay bands, certainly something that helps when you start your career and are uncomfortable about negotiating salary!

The benefit packages that come with public sector roles are usually very comprehensive, including a range of discounts and of course a good pension scheme (something that when you are just leaving uni doesn’t seem that important, but will do in time).

Work experience

It is important to gain some paid or unpaid work experience in the job area you are considering, to increase your skills and knowledge.

For example, to be accepted onto the Probation Officer training scheme you need to prove you have had experience of working with vulnerable people. Volunteering with local charities or joining the Police Specials is a great way of getting this experience.

Perhaps you want to join the NHS Management Scheme after graduating? If so, working as a part-time healthcare assistant or in a hospital admin department would be a great idea.

Graduate schemes for final years

A number of public sector graduate schemes are currently open for applications or will be very soon. These are structured training programmes that usually last two years and generally start in September following your graduation. They can often result in permanent positions and give you a strong foundation on which to build your career!

Here are a few examples to look at:

If you're an ARU student, see Graduate Schemes on the Career Centre for support with applying.

If you are interested in working in the public sector and have an idea of the job you would like to do – or want to explore further – email the Employability and Careers Team at [email protected].

By Jen Little, Employability & Careers Adviser

1 Office for National Statistics (ONS) Public Sector Employment estimate, 2019.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.