Workers are being trapped in career silos because they don’t believe they can cross sector or industry boundaries, according to data published this morning from the Hays Career Outlook Survey.
The survey reveals employers across both the public and private sectors are unable to recognise the transferable skills that might help them to identify potential candidates who are capable of supporting their growth plans.
The survey reveals the majority of employers believe previous experience in the same sector is important. Whilst only just over a third (38%) of public sector employers say previous public sector experience is important, over half (56%) of employers in the private sector deem previous private sector experience to be important in potential candidates.
And 15% of private sector employers say that experience in commercial work is an essential competence of any prospective candidate. Over half of private sector employers (51%) say a lack of direct experience would prevent them from hiring someone from the public sector, while over a third (39%) cite a lack of transferable skills.
Charles Logan, director at Hays, said: “These findings highlight that workers believe they cannot move between sectors and that employers aren’t always able to understand or give credence to transferable skills. By over-emphasising the value of previous same-sector experience, employers could be missing out on talented people and motivated workers. It is particularly concerning in industries where there is a shortage of skilled professionals and employers may need to consider candidates who have the necessary competencies but may not at first glance be the perfect match.”
Public sector workers confessed they also struggle to move into different areas of the public sector, although this is disputed by their employers. More than three quarters (78%) of candidates say it is difficult or impossible, and 75% say they have not been encouraged to consider this as an option despite the job cuts.
But 62% of public sector employers say they have encouraged workers to look elsewhere in the sector, either through official training routes like secondments or through the application process itself. More than half (51%) cite a lack of transferable skills as the main reason why they would not hire someone from another part of the public sector.
Andy Robling, public services director at Hays, added: “Whilst the disparity of organisations under the public sector banner makes it difficult to generalise about the ease with which people should be able to move, the sector should be doing all it can to retain top talent during these challenging times. For example, the NHS is currently grappling with local commissioning, which is something local government is already well used to and there will be skilled professionals who could support this change. Line managers and HR teams must assess a candidate’s skills objectively, keep an open mind and prevent assumptions from clouding their judgement when hiring.”
A third of private (33%) and public (35%) sector workers would prefer to continue their careers in a mix of the two sectors and not restrict their career options. Just over a third (36%) of public sector employers say people in their organisation view the private sector as a more attractive career option, and private sector workers report that people are keen to stay in the commercial world when they move on.
But the vast majority (81%) of public sector workers say they are quite or very well-equipped for a career in the private sector.