Careers in Public Sector, Politics and Development - CV Plaza

Careers in Public Sector, Politics and Development

Overview

Are you interested in politics and current affairs?
Do you want to make a change in your community and on a wider scale?
Then a career in the Public Sector, Politics and Development could be the right option for you!

Professionals working in this sector are striving to improve the lives of their citizens and possibly change national and international policy. Every aspect of their jobs, in some ways, is directly connected to a government policy or law.

There are plenty of opportunities in this sector ranging from becoming a politician or government official to leading development projects and dealing with community issues.

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Specific areas of work

This sector can be divided in the following three key job areas:

1) Elected Representative

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Within all the national governments and majority of international organisations sit elected representatives who are chosen by their people to represent them in government.

In the UK they are based in Westminster (MPs) and there are also elected representatives from many different countries in the European Union Parliament (MEPs).

This role is a respected position within politics with many politicians working towards becoming elected representatives one day. It is is obviously something which an individual has to work very hard for and involves numerous areas of governance ranging from taxation and economics to health and transport.

2) Policy Officers and Advisers

diplomacy

Policy Officers and Advisers tend to be based in large international organisations such as the United Nations and the European Union and offer specialist advice to an elected representative or nations who are currently working on up and coming policy.

They are normally specialists (often with a PhD) in a particular area.

Policy Officers and Advisers may also work for national elected representatives such as an MP, however, the issues they support are likely to be smaller cases, such as transport or health as many of the large national laws have already been developed and established.

3) Administrative and Research Support

Elected representatives often have large administrative and research systems based in either Westminster or their constituency office, in many cases they are responsible for the running of the office including organising meetings and responding to emails, phone calls and letters.

Research support is often based on working on campaigns or elections to ensure that the elected representative has all the relevant and up-to-date information they require.

Education and qualifications

For entry-level positions, trainee and apprenticeships a candidate is expected to have 5 GCSEs A*-C.

Should a candidate wish to enter the sector at a higher level, such as a graduate scheme, they will be expected to obtain a degree at 2:2 or above. A degree in Politics, International Relations, Public Relations or Economics would support a strong application.

Note: Even though employers do not request a specific discipline, they will expect the candidates to have an active interest in politics and are increasingly looking for relevant work experience; whether that is achieved through a part-time job, a sandwich placement year or even summer internships.

Skills and personal attributes

  • Communication skills: Professionals in this sector are often appealing to members of the public and looking to gain their support, therefore they must be able to communicate with people effectively in order to get their points across.
  • Written skills: When an individual first starts out in this sector they will often be asked to carry out research, write speeches or respond to correspondents, therefore their written skills must be excellent to ensure their tasks are carried out in a professional manner.
  • Political knowledge: It is vital in this sector that professionals are up to date and have a clear understanding of the political system they work in. Without this an individual would struggle to work within this sector.
  • Analysis: Carrying out analysis is a massive part of this sector and as such is an extremely important skill to have. Individuals may be asked to analyse anything from press interviews and articles to large amounts of data.
  • Attention to detail: As the jobs in this sector are public-facing it is important to pay close attention to detail in order to ensure that no damaging mistakes or blunders are made in public.
  • Working under pressure: This is a high pressured environment, especially during campaigns and elections and thus professionals must be prepared to work under pressure and respond to any issues effectively, swiftly and in a professional manner.
  • Organisational skills: As this is a very busy sector it is vital that all professionals are extremely organised to ensure all tasks are carried out and completed effectively.

Pay and benefits

Depending on what area of this sector an individual will chose to work for, will depend on their pay. A breakdown of the pay is as follows:

  1. Elected Representative: An MP in the UK is paid £74,000 per year and this salary increases with seniority, for example by achieving a Ministerial position.
  2. Policy Officer and Advisor: Staring salary of £20,000 – £27,000 per year, with experience an individual can expect to earn up to and in excess of £40,000.
  3. Administrative and Research Support: Starting salary of £15,000 which may increase to £28,000 with experience.

Note: An individual’s salary may change based on location with many receiving the London living wage.

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Likes and advantages

  1. Working at the heart of politics: Working within this sector really does provide individuals the opportunity to work in the heart of politics and witness national and international change first hand.
  2. Opportunities available: Being involved in the public sector and politics exposes individuals to influential people on a regular basis, and in some cases gives them the opportunity to become more influential themselves. Gaining experience and networking are two great ways to make progress in one’s career.
  3. Location: This sector is often based in political hubs around the globe and gives individuals the chance to work and live in places like London, Brussels and Washington DC.
  4. Variety: So many areas of society are affected by new and changing policy that by working in the public sector and politics it gives individuals the chance to work on a variety of issues from health, transport and education to global development and aid.
  5. Rewarding: In many cases there will be an end result; be it the outcome of a successful campaign or a document highlighting the findings of a two-year long research.

Challenges

  1. Late Nights/Long hours: During busy periods, such as elections or campaigns, professionals are expected to work long hours and are often expected to work weekends, and this may include attending social or charity events.
  2. Admin Work: When individuals first start working within this sector, they often fall into the role of an assistant and as such may be involved in a significant amount of admin work. As an individual gains more experience their responsibility will increase accordingly.

This sector has been hit hard by recent cuts introduced by the UK government to save money and improve efficiency in the public sector.

According to UNISON, the public service union, the government plans to slash grants to councils by a total of £11.3 billion by 2015/16 with devastating effect on councils and their operations.

It is estimated that more than 500,000 council workers have lost their jobs since 2010.

The future looks uncertain for employment in the public sector and securing a long-term job in the current climate has become even difficult than before.

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    OVERVIEW

    • SALARY RANGE
      £15.000 – £75.000
    • ENTRY
      Degree and Relevant Work Experience
    • WORKING HOURS
      37 – 45 hours per week

    SKILLS PROFILE

    • Specialist Knowledge
      Having technical knowledge of Politics, Development and/or the Public Sector
    • Organisational Skills
      Methodically running different projects and meeting deadlines
    • Interpersonal Skills
      Excellent interpersonal skills to communicate and interact with others
    • Project Management
      Exceptional project management skills to manage, inspire and lead a team
    • Numeracy Skills
      Dealing with numbers and doing basic calculations
    • Caring
      Being caring and considered about all the citizens under one’s responsibility
    • Diplomacy
      Using diplomatic techniques to move others to action or to gain agreements

    JOB DESCRIPTIONS