We must avoid the growing UK Public and Private Sector Apartheid

Speaking at the sixth annual Harvey Nash-sponsored Business Breakfast Lord Digby Jones called for moral courage in the UK public sector to remedy years of inefficiency in public service delivery, and to uphold the UK’s standing as a global economic leader and vital trading partner.

“Government needs greater connectivity, commitment to deliver on promises, and courage to push through promised reform, to steer the country on a determined path to economic recovery,” said Digby, emphasising the importance of securing and nurturing ‘frontline jobs’ whilst reforming back-end operations in public sector organisations.

Lord Jones’ address, which attracted more than 300 delegates, despite the capital being thrown into chaos by the London Tube strikes, was clear in its key message to Government:

“In the private sector, the customer always comes first. In the public sector, the public comes a poor second, often to vested interest, resulting in a Government that is sorely disconnected from the people it is meant to govern,” added Digby.

He called for three fundamental steps on the path to the recovery and well-being of the country’s work and business environment:

  • A slimmed-down Government that embraces private sector-style efficiencies and creates ‘productive’ jobs with clear, beneficial outputs
  • A new, simplified business and income tax regime that will support the UK’s position as an attractive place for skilled workers and for conducting global trade
  • The creation of a UK knowledge culture that emphasises skills acquisition and successful application of these skills

Recognising the plight of thousands of middle managers whose careers are now in flux because of the recession, Lord Jones also offered the following advice:

  • The recovery will not be uniform, but most sectors are reporting that the backslide appears to have stopped. If you are employed, stay the course and think out-of-the-box, in preparation for the upturn.
  • If you have suffered redundancy, there is no better time than now to re-skill and retrain.
  • MBA programmes have recently come under scrutiny, but there is still much to be gained from embracing advanced learning opportunities.
  • As with any training, simply acquiring new skills is not enough: knowledge workers must also apply these skills with deep pragmatism and the ethos of wanting to ‘do a job well, versus ‘getting credit’.
  • Network: even if you are not a natural networker, the connectedness –to potential employers and the broader, global market – presents valuable opportunities to gain perspective and plan for the future.