No one could be unaware that the public sector has been forced to take some eyewatering budgetary cuts in the government’s quest to bring down the UK’s deficit. But contractors working for umbrella companies or through limited companies may be unduly pessimistic if they believe their future work opportunities in the sector are about to dry up.

According to a new report by and the CEBR, the public sector will still need to fill 2.5 million job vacancies between now and 2015-16. The report also suggests that up to £2.5 billion in savings could be made by the public sector by altering its employment practises over the next five years. In particular, the report recommends a switch away from the habit of advertising vacancies internally – public sector job openings should instead be posted online so that organisations gain access to a broader pool of talent. High calibre candidates can be attracted more efficiently if all vacancies are advertised on the website jobs boards of public sector agencies. HR personnel should also be trained in how to maximise the advantages of using online channels, which is an exceptionally cost-efficient means of advertising jobs as well as being transparent.

Acknowledging that the public sector headcount will undoubtedly need to contract in the wake of the government’s austerity programme, the CEBR’s Managing Economist, Richard Greenwood, maintained that “natural churn” will ensure that recruitment activity would need to continue. Provided the sector can make the savings suggested by the CEBR through online recruiting, productivity can rise even though costs fall. There will still, it seems, be a demand for flexible, highly skilled contractors in the public sector despite the swinging of a very large budgetary axe.

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