What is the Public Sector in the UK?

What is the Public Sector in the UK? 1280 853 TCLRec

What is the Public Sector in the UK?

Nearly 6 million people work in the public sector in the UK. When you consider that there are just over 33 million people employed in the United Kingdom you begin to understand just how big the public sector is. But besides accounting for some 18% of all jobs in the UK, exactly what is meant when we say “the public sector”?


According to the Oxford Dictionary, the public sector is that part of the economy that is under the control of the government either directly or indirectly, including:

  • Healthcare (more specifically the NHS)
  • Public education
  • Refuse collection
  • Civil service
  • Public housing
  • Defence
  • Police
  • Public transport
  • Infrastructure
  • And more…

The public sector can be loosely broken down into two main components: local government and central government, with the central government employing almost twice as many people as local governments.

Can Anyone Work in the Public Sector?

Any UK citizen with the appropriate skills is eligible to work in the public sector, although there is a high degree of specialisation within many public sector jobs.

Some of the largest public sector employers are:

  • The healthcare sector: The National Health Service alone accounts for nearly 1/3 of all public sector jobs in the UK. Those jobs range from paramedics to doctors, nurses, administrators, maintenance personnel and countless other positions.
  • Social care: Social care encompasses social workers, elder caregivers, probation officers and others tasked with overseeing the wellbeing of those in need.
  • Law enforcement: There are currently more than 140,000 individuals working full-time in law enforcement in England and Wales alone.
  • Education: Nearly half a million people work as teachers or teaching assistants in primary, secondary and higher education institutions in the UK.

Public Sector Employment Opportunities for University Graduates

The Civil Service is the main public service employer of people with Bachelor’s or Graduate Degrees. Agencies and departments that hire large numbers of such individuals include:

  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • HM Treasury
  • Government Economic Services
  • Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
  • Government Legal Profession
  • Government Statistical Service
  • National Crime Agency
  • SIS and MI6
  • Security Service (MI5)

Other notable public sector employers include the Armed Forces, the Bank of England, the BBC, the National Audit Office, The British Museum and the Financial Conduct Authority.

What You Can Expect When Seeking Work in the Public Sector

  • Public sector jobs tend to offer good working conditions.
  • There are usually lots of public sector jobs available throughout the UK.
  • Public sector employees’ average salary is in line with comparable private sector employees.
  • Depending on the job in question there may be strict eligibility requirements.
  • Some public sector jobs offer the opportunity to work abroad.
  • Most public sector jobs provide training and experience that can be useful in the private sector.

Contact Triumph Consultants Ltd

If you are considering work in the public sector get in touch with the experts at Triumph Consultants Ltd. We have many years of experience placing contract, interim, specialist and permanent personnel into public sector positions throughout the UK.

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