With a diverse selection of roles available and various routes to the top of the pile, a position in the public sector allows you actively to contribute to the development and maintenance of the industries that keep Britain’s heart beating. If you’re fresh out of university armed with a degree and an insatiable hunger to help society, it’s worth looking into public sector graduate schemes. Here's everything you need to know.
What do typical public sector graduate schemes look like?
A wide range of departments make up the public sector, including roles in education, energy, healthcare, emergency services, transit, social services, waste management, postal services, government and infrastructure.
As a result, a public sector graduate scheme can adopt various forms, but in the vast majority of cases you’ll be required to develop skills on the job, shadow more experienced public servants, and interact with members of the public.
Many public sector roles are geared towards strengthening society in some way, be it on a local, regional, or even national scale. Schemes require attentiveness, diligence and spirit, regardless of whether they are associated with Human Resources in the NHS or technology-based roles in the Secret Intelligence Service. Take a closer look at the top five graduate schemes in the public sector for more details on the types of opportunities available to recent graduates.
The eclectic nature of the public sector inevitably means that there are inconsistencies across starting salaries, but the average wage for somebody with an established role in the public sector is currently around £37,000.
There are many different career paths you can take in the public sector and there is often an opportunity for immediate progression and advancement after completing a public sector graduate scheme. Many of these projects involve a lot of on-the-job training from the very beginning, with clear, unobstructed paths to permanent positions once the schemes have ended.
Teach First is one example of a particularly popular public sector graduate scheme, offering aspiring teachers the chance to develop their skills quickly and effectively to open doors to all kinds of education institutes.
The National Graduate Development Programme also work alongside councils to train graduates to develop local government knowledge, subsequently steering them into a related career position once the two scheme years are finished.
Meanwhile, if you want to make an impact at a national level, the Civil Service Fast Stream has produced some terrific career.
There are some big names in the public sector that thousands of employees are proud to work for. These include the National Health Service (NHS), Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), MI6, MI5, The Metropolitan Police, The British Council, The Civil Service, and the Department for Education.
Departments you can dip into
As long as you’re committed, enthusiastic, and driven, you’ll be able to pinpoint the role in the public sector that’s perfect for you. There are so many to choose from, you will probably find that you’re a little spoiled for choice.
What an ideal candidate looks like
The ideal candidate for a public sector role often depends on the particular area of the industry they wish to engage with. For example, embarking on a career in the SIS will require some tech talent, whilst chasing a role in administration will require strong organisational skills.
As there is no prototype for the “ideal” candidate in the public sector given the varied nature of roles available, it is true that any person applying for a position in a related industry must be determined, strong-willed, and most importantly of all, passionate about what they do.
The people who work in the public sector actively shape the world we live in. If you want to be a part of this industry, it’s crucial for you to really care about your career and acknowledge its significance in society. Learn more about the skills and qualities you need for the public sector.
Learn more about getting into the public sector
Interested in a career in the public sector? Browse Bright Network's Public Sector & Government Career Path Guide and discover how to start your career in the public sector.