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Public sector reigns supreme as job vacancies in other sectors drop

Record levels for public sector recruitment: +51% in public sector professional roles this year

  • Biggest increase in technology: +138% increase in demand for Tech Management roles
  • Management Accounting & Digital Marketing are also growth areas within Public Sector
  • Third of public sector professional roles based in London
  • Regions hire aggressively: Vacancies increase in the North (+42%), South (+34%), and Midlands (+26%)


There has been a +51% increase in (desk-based) public sector job roles for the first half of 2023, when compared to the same period last year.

If job vacancies continue at the pace that they have, then job volume for professional roles within the public sector will be +35% up on 2022 – making this the only industry segment to see an increase in white-collar / head-office roles this year.

The hiring intelligence findings – from specialist recruitment firm Robert Walters – analyses job vacancies across professional services roles such as finance, HR, legal, technology, marketing, and business support & admin.

Habiba Khatoon – Director at Robert Walters – comments:

“It really is no surprise to see the demand for public sector professionals remain so high in 2023 – in particular due to changing government priorities, evolving legislation, demographic changes putting additional pressure on the system, and the need for specialized skills to keep up with technological advancements.

The recent announcement on the long-awaited pay increase has given the public sector the well-needed positive PR it has required. With a better reputation around job security, generous leave entitlement, work-life balance, and diverse career opportunities – when compared to the private sector – the tide may be turning on where the most in-demand talent may choose to lay their hat.”

Tech Talent in Demand

According to the Robert Walters hiring intelligence report there has been an explosion in hiring for Tech Management roles in public sector recruitment– with volumes up +138% on last year, accounting for 8% of all new professional job vacancies in the public sector in the last quarter.

This is in stark contrast to all other sectors – where across the UK, Tech Management roles are down -59%.

Habiba adds: “Arguably the public sector was slightly behind the curve on digital transformation post-pandemic. So whilst we saw a bulk of tech hiring take place within the private sector in the 12 months following lockdown measure being lifted, this scale of hiring only seems to be taking place now.”

Hiring Continues in Public Sector

Other roles in demand across the public sector include Management Accounting and Digital Marketing – which have increased by +18% and +11% respectively, in the past year.

By region, London remains the largest in terms of vacancies accounting for 32% of all advertised roles - however, it is The North (+42%), South (+34%), and The Midlands (+26%) that have seen notable growth. London has seen a +30% growth in public sector professional vacancies in the past year.

In which sectors has hiring slowed?

  • Accountancy: whilst vacancies in the sector are down by -25% compared to the last year, the tide may be turning with vacancies in Q2 of this year increasing by +9% compared to Q1. Whilst Audit and Tax continue to dominate the hiring front – accounting for 38% and 31% respectively of all roles advertised, it is Financial Accounting that has seen the only real increase of +5%.
  • Banking & Financial Services: Halfway through the year, vacancies are -28% down in the Banking sector compared to last year. Whilst job roles have been down across all areas – we are seeing record numbers of vacancies allocated toward Risk & Compliance, which now equated for 14% of all new hires in this sector. London continues to dominate on the hiring front in spite of hybrid working – accounting for 59% of roles advertised – followed by The North (20%) and the South (19%) and The Midlands (8%).
  • Legal: Within the legal sector, whilst volumes are down -28% on last year – we see pockets of demand for personal injury (+17%) and tax (+1%) specialists. Real Estate remains the largest area of hiring – accounting for 19% of all roles advertised in the legal sector, followed by Litigation / Dispute Resolution (12%).
  • Finally, the fall in vacancies in London is marked, with volumes down 30.5% on last year. As a result, there were more legal vacancies across the North, than in the capital, in 2023 so far. Interestingly, the legal sector seems to be bucking the trend on maintaining roles in the capital. Of all legal roles advertised this year, 27% were advertised as being part/full-time London-based – down from 31%. Instead, vacancies have increased in The North – where 33% of roles were based in the region, followed by the South (31%) and The Midlands (17%).


Habiba adds: “Whilst the decline in roles across professional services may be somewhat disheartening – a lot of this can be put down to the market correcting itself after we saw a record number of job vacancies post pandemic."

"For the most part, many firms have secured the talent that they needed, and now in the face of a rocky economic climate we are seeing a degree of risk aversion play out.”


Find out more information on Robert Walters' specialist public sector recruitment services here.

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