The public sector includes everything from working as a kindergarten teacher to being the president of the nation. So in a sector as broad as this, where do you start planning a career?
Firstly, you need to understand exactly what the public sector entails and why you’d want to work in it.
What is the public sector?
The public sector generally includes all organisations run by the government or funded by tax-payers’ money. This includes government departments run by ministers, municipal offices, state hospitals, service-delivery organisations, and even some charity (non-profit) organisations.
For purposes of this article, however, we will focus primarily on work that is directly related to government.
Why work in the public sector?
People often end up working in the public sector because they happened to be qualified for the jobs that were available. There are, however, also definite reasons why you might actively seek a career in the public sector.
These reasons include:
- An opportunity to do work that helps society:
Working in the public sector means that you will be working for the public. Your job will either directly or indirectly affect the communities around you. Working in the public sector therefore gives you an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to society and to help improve the lives of others.
- Job security:
Job security is often a big bonus when it comes to working in the public sector. In the private sector, employment can be unstable, especially in times of economic uncertainty. The public sector is much more reliable in this context (although it also doesn’t mean that you will be guaranteed job security). It is, however, unlikely that entire government departments would be shut down without arrangements being made for employees to be transferred.
- Employment benefits:
Working for the government means that you will receive certain basic benefits that you won’t always receive in the private sector. These basic benefits generally include pension and medical aid contributions.
- Opportunities for career growth and professional development:
Unlike in many small companies in the private sector, there is always an opportunity to work your way up the ranks in the public sector. Who knows, you may even be able to become a Department Head one day!
Planning your career path
The public sector accommodates all types of professionals – from advertising agents to research psychologists. If you have a professional skill set, you will most likely be able to find work somewhere in the public sector. Just remember that some skills are definitely more in demand than others.
You can also build a career focused specifically on governmental and administrative work, which will give you the skills you need to advance your career to a managerial position in the public sector one day.
If you are serious about starting your career in the public sector, you will generally need a formal qualification, as well as the vocational skills required for the type of work that you plan to do.
Oxbridge Academy offers a range of public sector courses and qualifications that you can complete via distance learning. These include:
Oxbridge Academy Skills Courses
National Qualifications (N4-N6)
Public Management (Accounting)
Public Sector Accounting
Click on the link to see the full course list: Public Sector Courses
Together with formal training and qualifications, you might also benefit from cultivating a number of skills that will help you succeed in the public sector. Click through the slideshow below to learn more about these skills:
Level of employment
Depending on your level of training and experience, both within and outside the public sector, you will be able to qualify for different levels of employment.
If you are studying your public sector qualification via distance learning, you can already apply for an internship to begin gaining valuable experience.
Here is what you can expect:
- New graduates without experience will most likely start with a low-paying entry-level position.
- New graduates with work experience might start in a higher paying entry-level position, or even a mid-level position.
- Professionals with a broad skill set, a qualification, and relevant experience might secure a more senior position, possibly even a managerial one.
Level of government
South African government is divided into 3 levels. The higher you go, the more influential your office or department will be, the more responsibility you will have, and the more prestigious your job will be.
At national level, for example, you will be dealing with problems and policies that affect the whole country. But then again, if you work at the municipal level, you will be working more closely with the people in your community, enabling you to help them more directly.
The three levels of government are:
- Local (Municipal) Government
- Provincial Government
- National Government
Place of employment
It is also important to consider your particular place of employment, as there are many governmental agencies, departments, branches, and institutions that differ widely in what they do. At national level, you might work as a financial administrator for the Department of the Presidency, or you might work as a translator for Parliament.
Here are a few examples of government departments that you can work in:
- Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
- Arts and Culture
- Basic Education
- Co-operative Governance
- Economic Development
- Public Enterprises
- Science and Technology
- Social Development
- Trade and Industry
Each of these departments has a variety of offices, committees, and affiliated organisations in which you might be employed.
Where to find work
Government departments regularly advertise vacancies in newspapers. But you can also look at online job listing websites such as Career Junction.
Departments often also advertise job vacancies on their own websites. You can find all the departments that are currently advertising jobs online here: List of Departmental Websites
Start your career the right way
If you are interested in a career in the public sector, then you might want to start by getting the right training. Oxbridge Academy offers an easy solution for students who want to get qualified without having to sacrifice the time and money needed for full-time studies. Click on the button below to learn more: