Wages and Employment Structure in the Irish Public Sector, NES 2007

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There are strong structural differences in employment between the public and private sector – a fact that is recognised by some, and ignored by others.

The structural differences relate to the types of occupation, education standards, and length of service – all of which affect wage levels. The length of service of those in the public sector tends to be longer – by five years for men and three years for women – than those on the private sector, which affects aggregate wage levels. There is a lower ratio of foreign nationals in the public sector compared to the private sector, and foreign nationals – UK&NI, EU15 and EU15-27 – are paid less in Ireland than Irish nationals.

There is one other factor that brings itself to bear on public sector wages levels, and that is the fact that women are less likely to be discriminated against in the public sector as they are in the private sector. Gender difference in pay occurs in all occupations and professions, and although it still exists in the public sector, the gap is not as wide as it is in the private sector where gender pay discrimination works as a “saving” over the public sector.

In a previous post, I talked about how wages do not determine class, because class is a social relation, not a category. However, an analysis of wages can give us an indication of those social relations, and how they play out within our society. The NES is one such example of this, with an analysis of wages giving us a view of educational standards, and the position of women, in the public sector workforce.

Money is a form of social power. “It is one of our fundamental principles of social organization. Ownership is represented through monetary claims, and the exchange of those claims in the financial markets amounts to the social construction of ownership.” (Henwood, 1997, 11). There is very little which happens in a modern capitalist economy such as Ireland’s that doesn’t involve, or require, money. Access to it, and the amount one has, affects your level of social power.

So, while wages don’t determine your class, wages are the means by which the majority of people attain money, and the amount of money you have affects your level of social power. And the more money you have – through wages or bonuses or speculation or business – the more likely you are to be able to affect national government policy. The less money you have, the less likely you are to be able to affect government policy.

The following facts are of little concern to those demanding draconian cuts in social services – just as the facts about the fault lines in Ireland’s economy were of little concern to them – or the fault lines in the bank bailout in August 2008 were of little concern to them.

For those who are interested, though, here they are.

Distribution of Occupations

The NEC 2007 report contains analysis which makes it very clear that there are structural differences in employment between the public and private sector.

- 11.6% of employees in the private sector were managers, compared with 3.0% in the public sector.

- 46.4% of all public sector workers consisted of professional or associate professional and technical occupations, compared with 13.9% in the private sector.

- 8.1% of public sector workers fell into the sales and other occupations (mainly manual labour) category, compared with 24.5% of private sector workers. (p.10)

wages_01.jpg

There are almost three times as many professionals working in the public sector as in the private sector. Not surprising, as the public sector is, well, a not-for-profit service sector, employing teachers, social workers, doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, osteopaths, radiographers, surgeons, obstetricians, gynecologists, dermatologists, welfare workers, community workers and counsellors, among others.

Education

With almost half of the public sector comprised of professionals and associate professionals, it is not surprising that there is a higher number of graduates within the public sector than in the private sector. This reveals itself in the figures regarding the breakdown of educational attainment in the private and public sectors.

p11_1.jpg

The difference that education makes to one’s employment opportunities and, by extension, wage levels, is revealed by the figures regarding the median hourly rates in 2007 by educational attainment – the median being the point at which half of the sample group are below, and half above.

median hourly rates ireland 2007

The above figures do NOT mean that everyone with a third-level education is getting €23.29 or thereabouts – no more than they mean that the average hourly rate for those with a Jnr. Cert. or lower is €14.35. However, they do show that educational attainment can have an influence on your wage level. These variables need to be factored in when trying to analyse wage levels in the public sector, as 46% of all employees are professionals / associate professionals and technicals – in other words, they are the types of occupations for which a third level qualification is required.

Length of Service

The amount of years you have with your employer affects your wages. On average, civil servants have three years more service than people in the private sector. The level of service is longer for men – on average 14 years – while for women it is ten years.

av_yrs.jpg

In general terms, the spread of wages by age group pans out as such below. These figures are for the entire workforce, not just public sector. The point remains, though, that wages levels are affected by length of service.

earnings-07.jpg

Women in the Workforce

In general, women in full-time employment are paid less than men. The difference widens with service. However, the rate of difference is lower in the public sector than in the private sector.

female_earnigns.jpg

The NEC 2007 provides us with a snapshot of wages and employment at a quantitative rather than qualitative level. And as Tom Geraghty pointed out on Morning Ireland on Thursday last, the main differences between the public and private sector occur at the qualitative level. However, it is possible to observe some of these difference in motion when we look at wages as a “way in” to the structural differences in employment and occupation between the two sectors.

The current focus on the public sector, however, has absolutely nothing to do with the structural fault lines within the Irish economy which led to the collapse of the banking system and the largest single increase in unemployment we have ever seen.

Irish banks did not collapse because the median of women’s pay in the public sector in October 2007 was 93.9% of that of their male counterparts, while in the private sector, the difference was 79.3%.

Ireland’s tax laws and investment strategies – the ones which lacerated our economy – remain, essentially, in place. The vested interests which have destroyed our economy are the ones dictating policy today. It’s incredible, but that’s the situation.

The calls for a cull of 17,500 in the Irish civil service won’t help the economy one bit while the banks and speculators remain insulated from the cuts in public services by a €60 billion guarantee of public money, and while the disastrous investment strategies they pursued – the empty houses and apartments – remain protected by our taxes.

And it is absolutely bizarre to read comments on various Irish blogs from people who have absolutely no access to that bailout, who will be forced to work longer for less, alongside a reduced education and health system, and yet think that their lives will be protected by the people who are using them, and their children, as toilet paper – something to wipe the shit off their shoes with.

Oh well. Here’s another economic plan, on a par with this one as far as dealing with structural problems.

Enjoy.

 

39 Responses

  1. Proposition Joe

    July 20, 2009 10:26 am

    There is a lower ratio of foreign nationals in the public sector compared to the private sector, and foreign nationals – UK&NI, EU15 and EU15-27 – are paid less in Ireland than Irish nationals.

    You fail to address why there’s been so little penetration of the public sector labour market by suitably qualified migrants.

    Could it have anything to do with the highly restrictive hiring practices and artificial barriers to entry that have long been cheer-led by the PS unions?

    For example, the restriction of the vast majority of promotional opportunities to serving members of the public service. Because in the unions eyes it just wouldn’t be fair to allow an open competition for these posts that external candidates (Irish and foreign) in mid-career could apply to.

    Similarly the foot-dragging over recognition of foreign qualifications and the use of proficiency in the Irish language to discriminate against foreign applicants, even when there is absolutely no on-the-job usage of Irish.

  2. Conor McCabe

    July 20, 2009 10:33 am

    “Could it have anything to do with the highly restrictive hiring practices and artificial barriers to entry that have long been cheer-led by the PS unions?”

    Well, the answer there is no. I would have thought it was blindingly obvious. Oh well. Again, there are structural differences between the public and private sector. For example, we don’t have that many restaurants, shops, and hotel workers in the civil service, whereas a good proportion of foreign nationals work in these areas. Similarly, the Irish government doesn’t build houses with civil servants. Have you not noticed?

  3. Proposition Joe

    July 20, 2009 11:35 am

    Ouch, Conor, you’d really want to watch that stereotyping of foreign workers.

    Many are capable of much more than working in low-skill service positions and building houses. I did specify “suitably qualified” in my original post.

    If you had a bit more exposure to the wider productive economy, you’d know that the software industry for example is absolutely chock-a-block with highly qualified engineers from the former Eastern bloc, India and China.

    These guys are not just acting as chai-wallahs, they’re fully integrated participants in the knowledge economy.

    You may be surprised to hear that as well brick-laying & plumbing school there are also universities in Poland, producing graduates as good as the Irish grads that have flocked to the public sector in recent years.

    Yet outside of the health service, these highly qualified migrants have little or no penetration of the lucrative public sector labour market.

    So I ask again, could it be because they are actively excluded from participation in order to protect the promotional opportunities of existing public servants?

  4. Conor McCabe

    July 20, 2009 11:42 am

    “Ouch, Conor, you’d really want to watch that stereotyping of foreign workers.
    Many are capable of much more than working in low-skill service positions and building houses.”

    Oh right. Do you mean something like this, then?

    http://dublinopinion.com/2007/07/18/work-and-nationality-in-ireland-census-2006/

    There are structural differences in employment between the public sector and the private sector, and that affects studies based on aggregates. There’s nothing unusual or controversial about that statement of fact. You want to ignore it. Fine. I’m not surprised.

    “So I ask again, could it be because they are actively excluded from participation in order to protect the promotional opportunities of existing public servants?”

    And I tell you again. The answer is no.

  5. Proposition Joe

    July 20, 2009 12:05 pm

    Causes and effects, Conor, causes and effects.

    Well we know they are structural differences in the public sector, the question is why this particular structural difference exists.

    Leaving aside the building sites and sandwich bars, its clear that foreign workers have made significant inroads in professional grades in the finance and ICT industries. Yet these inroads are notable by their absence in the public sector excluding health.

    The point is that you present the lack of foreigners as your very first justification/explanation for public sector wages being higher.

    I would contend that the lack of foreigners is not a cause of PS higher wages, but rather an effect of restrictive hiring practices.

    And it is this inflexibility and exclusionary practices that cut to the core of why PS wages are higher.

  6. Conor McCabe

    July 20, 2009 12:15 pm

    “The point is that you present the lack of foreigners as your very first justification/explanation for public sector wages being higher.”

    No I don’t. That ridiculous. Now you’re not even bothering to read what I am writing.

    “justification/explanation”

    Well, make up your mind, will you? This isn’t a tale of two cities. Which one am I doing? A justification for something is quite different to an explanation of something.

    “Well we know they are structural differences in the public sector, the question is why this particular structural difference exists.”

    I give reasons why there are structural differences in the article. Do I have to cut and paste where I do that because you can’t be bothered reading a post that’s more than 200 words long?

    “Causes and effects, Conor, causes and effects.”

    I don’t even know what you are talking about there. however, I’m giving a relational analysis, not a causal one, and I would have thought that was pretty obvious as well.

  7. Conor McCabe

    July 20, 2009 12:38 pm

    Prop, one more thing:

    “Leaving aside the building sites and sandwich bars, its clear that foreign workers have made significant inroads in professional grades in the finance and ICT industries. Yet these inroads are notable by their absence in the public sector excluding health.”

    Leaving aside? You’ve missed my entire point about wages and aggregates in the NES.

  8. Ciarán

    July 20, 2009 12:48 pm

    Eh, Joe have you worked for, or in, a third-level institute recently? More specifically, in ANY research department of same. If you have, then, you know your first comment above is, to put it politely, untruthful. If you haven’t, then, you’d be surprised at just how many non-Irish work there as fully integrated employees.

    Ditto for the health services, as you grudgingly acknowledge. You’d be living in a different country if, when you visited your local hospital, you didn’t encounter non-Irish nursing and medical staff.

    Finally, whole swathes of the public service are, by necessity, closed to non-Irish citizens. The military, gardai, diplomatic service, civil service. for instance. That’s a feature of virtually every coherent state on the planet.

  9. Hugh Green

    July 20, 2009 12:55 pm

    Leaving aside the building sites and sandwich bars, its clear that foreign workers have made significant inroads in professional grades in the finance and ICT industries. Yet these inroads are notable by their absence in the public sector excluding health.

    If this is true, I’d suggest that an important factor here is the nature of work in these industries. Entry-level positions in these industries often require the ability to speak more than one language, for instance. Also, many of the jobs are held by foreigners because at the time of recruitment they made up the majority of applicants; in many instances there were simply no Irish people with the necessary qualifications and prior experience to fill them (I happen to know this because I’ve recruited for them).

    If the public sector had an accounts payable, procurement or technical support department that required workers who spoke French, German or Polish, do you reckon the proportion of foreign workers there employed would be the same as in other areas?

  10. Proposition Joe

    July 20, 2009 2:05 pm

    @Ciarán

    Eh, Joe have you worked for, or in, a third-level institute recently?

    Actually I did, but a long time ago when the IoTs were still called RTCs. Before getting my nice permanent postion I had to pass an entirely spurious Irish proficiency test. While I winged this no problem, but there were foreign temporary wholetime lecturers for whom this test was a *major* hurdle. Totally without justification of course, as neither students nor staff ever spoke a word of Irish in anger.

    If this particular barrier has been done away with since, then I applaud the IoTs for doing so. But it never had anything to with preserving the Irish language, rather it was all about restricting who could get onboard the gravy train.

    @Hugh

    If this is true, I’d suggest that an important factor here is the nature of work in these industries. Entry-level positions in these industries often require the ability to speak more than one language, for instance.

    I’m not talking about low-level tech support or call centre jobs.

    Rather I mean senior engineering positions, where the lingua franca is American English at all times.

    I doubt if there’s a software lab in this town without a guy called Sergey cutting code like its going outta style, and he’s not there for his fluency in Belorussian. Similarly there hardly a accountancy practice without a Magdelana or two, and she’s certainly not there for her ability to pronounce Lech Wa??sa.

    The reason why experienced and qualified foreigners are successful in the knowledge economy is that recruitment is open and competitive at all levels, based on actual skills alone and not some spurious requirement to have earned one’s stripes as a clerical officer.

  11. Hugh Green

    July 20, 2009 3:18 pm

    In 2006 nearly two-thirds (63%) of workers in service enterprises for Computer and related activities were employed by 190 enterprises with a turnover of >€5m, out of a total of 4,436 such enterprises. (Source: CSO). So the importance you attach to the relative success of foreigners in ICT -because of the supposedly different practices in that industry by comparison with the public sector- cannot be discussed without reference to these 190 enterprises, which includes the major multinationals. And it is true that there are lots of foreigners working there. Why? Because they met the demand for labour at the time. Are they all engaged in software engineering? ‘fraid not – many, if not the majority, are involved in what you describe as ‘low-level’ jobs. Do any of the foreigners employed by these firms hold more senior positions? Yes, unquestionably so. Could this scenario be replicated in the private sector? No, because of the different nature of the work. It’s what they refer to in the business as an apples-to-oranges comparison.

    The reason why experienced and qualified foreigners are successful in the knowledge economy is that recruitment is open and competitive at all levels

    Many of the multinational firms have internal job postings before the jobs get posted externally, and they allow applications from employees in other countries. So many appropriately-qualified foreign workers are able to take on more senior positions. If you’re already in the firm you have a much better chance of getting recruited for another position within the firm. Not now, of course, since they’re turfing people out on the street and replacing them with workers in India and China. That’s the joy of open competitiveness for you.

    Anyway, here’s the ‘open’, ‘competitive’ private sector for you:

    Mr Fallon said a level of favouritism was creeping in among employers towards job applicants of obvious Irish background as the economy worsens.

    “Heretofore the pressure on the labour force was to take available people to meet the demands of the economy for staff, whereas now we have a surplus of candidates.

    “Is it the case that people are going back to in-group thinking and saying right, we’ll go with the familiar option.”

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0507/breaking4.htm

  12. Proposition Joe

    July 20, 2009 4:14 pm

    @Hugh

    Organizations that apply overtly discriminatory hiring practices tend suffer in the long run as they allow some of the best candidates to go work for the competition.

    I’m not arguing that there’s some sort of hands-across-the-border altruism rife in the private sector, more that sophisticated companies will always week to hire the best in their own self-interest.

    Of course this rational behaviour is all predicated on the recruitment being done by organizations that are actually exposed to competitive pressures.

    The effect will be less pronounced in small and/or backward companies where a short-sighted manager may well prefer to hire his compatriots into low-level positions, as demonstrated by the ESRI study you quote. Given the low-ish skill level required, there is less to distinguish candidates and less risk of letting the best guy walk because you don’t like the look of a patronymic.

    But the PS unions are explicitly saying that their members are not comparable to low-level private sector workers, due to their elevated level of qualifications and experience.

    So in order to compare apples-with-apples, we must concern ourselves only with profressional grade recruitment. Now I think you’re over-stating the importance of internal transfers within multi-nationals from the operations in countries that supply the bulk of our well qualified migrants (former Ost-bloc, India, China and maybe the UK). Many if not most of these guys must have been recruited directly into the Irish operation as the MNC simply would not not have had a comparable operation in the home country.

    So we have a cadre of foreign workers who come to Ireland and got a job and presumably a work permit once here. They get jobs where being a foreigner is no advantage, i.e. their mother tongue is not an issue. They meet the demand for labour at the time, as you put it. But at the exact same time there’s also a huge demand for labour in the public sector, so much so that a full 70% of new jobs for females since 2000 have been in this sector. So we must ask the question as to why the foriegners are singularly unsuccessful in competing for those jobs, outside of the health service.

    Another way of looking at it would be to consider why this trend is reversed in the health service. Could this be a result of the fact that unusually for the public sector, many HSE practitioners come in via agencies or on temporary contracts? Non-consultant doctors are generally on rolling 6 or 12 month contracts right up to their 40s. They are recruited directly at senior levels, without having to have had time-served for years in Ireland.

    Then compare the smorgasbord of nationalities on the frontline with the ethnic makeup of the HSE adminstration and management cadres. Do you notice a higher incidence of ginger hair and freckles in the latter? Now why might that be? Anywhere we see restrictive hiring practices, we tend to also see disproportionately few foreigners. And vice versa.

  13. Conor McCabe

    July 20, 2009 4:30 pm

    “But at the exact same time there’s also a huge demand for labour in the public sector, so much so that a full 70% of new jobs for females since 2000 have been in this sector.”

    What are you talking about? One of the largest growths in female employment by sector for much of that period was in sales.

    We’re talking about almost 240,000 women between 2000 and 2008, and you’re making out that around 167,440 of them ended up working in the public sector? For those figures to be accurate, it would mean that there was a MINUS amount of women working in the Irish public sector before 2000!

    Proposition Joe, I don’t know what you are teaching, but I hope it’s not stats.

  14. Proposition Joe

    July 20, 2009 6:51 pm

    @Conor

    I was quoting (possibly mangling) a George Lee-ism that in the course of the boom, 70% of new female entrants to the labour-force went into the public sector whereas a similar percentage of male entrants went into construction.

    The statistical anomaly that you think you see in figures can I think be somewhat accounted for by considering the replacement rate in the public service. IIRC natural wastage runs at about 12k per annum in the public sector, maybe a tad more pre-Benchmarking I. So adding the net increase in overall numbers to the replacement of leavers and retirees, we’re talking approximately 140k being recruited in the public sector over the period. Most of that growth was in health and education, and most of those jobs are hoovered up by women.

    Then you also have to consider the disproportionate numbers of females who go on job share, career breaks and maternity leave, only to be replaced other females. At a guess there are in the 5-10k wholetime equivalents opening up per annum in the latter category alone (given the disproportionate numbers of females of child-bearing age in the cohort).

    Or maybe George was wrong, or I mangled the statistic in the quoting.

    But the point still stands. By any measure, there was massive recruitment into the public sector over the period.

  15. Conor McCabe

    July 20, 2009 7:47 pm

    Sorry Prop, but those figures are bullshit, and if they come from him, George Lee is blowing it out of his ass.

    First of all, since when does replacement = growth? That’s a political piece of rhetoric, not a statistical analysis. And you were talking about new jobs with the 70%, not replacement recruitment.

    not only that, you were talking about 70% of the increase in women working in Ireland from 2000 to date – well the latest figures from the CSO track the years 2000 to 2008, and they put the increase at 240,000. And the breakdown in those figures puts the increase in female employment across the occupational board, with one of the largest increases happening in sales and sales-related occupations – the one part of the economy where the public sector has almost a nil presence.

    For example, with regard to the 2002 and 2006 census, 158,209 more female workers in Ireland.

    Of these…

    There were 8,711 more managers and executives (private sector).

    There were 20,382 more female officer workers (private sector).

    There were 20,013 more female sales employees (private sector).

    There were 9,970 more female business employees.

    There were 11,648 more female medical employees – including doctors, nurses, dentists, vets, etc (both public and private sector).

    There were 4,412 more female primary school teachers.

    There 2,373 more female secondary school teachers.

    There were 4,259 more female local and central government workers – a broad grouping that includes judges, clerical officers, fire service officers, and health and safety officers.

    There were 776 more female guards, and 56 more female soldiers and commissioned officers.

    There were 34 more female train workers, and 541 more post office workers.

    So, out of 158,209 female workers who constituted an actual increase on 2006 from 2002, 2.69% went into public sector clerical work, while 4.29% found employment as primary or secondary school teachers.

    Even if we assume that every increase in health was a public sector job – and remember we’re including GPs, dentists, and vets here – it still only works out at 7.36% of the increase in female employment.

    So, what are we looking at here? 15-17%?

    The population of the State increased by 322,645 from 2002 to 2006. A figure of around 8.23%

    We’re looking at private sector employment accounting for around 80-85% of female employment growth from 2002 to 2006.

    So, 70% of ALL female recruitment accounted for by the public sector?

    My arse. The point doesn’t stand. It’s bullshit. Typical right-wing bar-stool rhetoric from Lee.

    The link below is to a bit of a basic analysis I did last year, and while the figures are for total employment increase, and based on sectors rather than occupations, hopefully they’ll give a bit of a picture of the type of recruitment we had during those years.

    http://dublinopinion.com/2008/06/29/job-creation-in-ireland-a-census-analysis-1991-2006/

  16. Hugh Green

    July 20, 2009 9:59 pm

    I think you’re over-stating the importance of internal transfers within multi-nationals from the operations in countries…

    I’m not over-stating it, just stating it. More important for me is the simple fact of internal job postings and how this contradicts what you were saying about recruitment being open and competitive. In many instances in these firms it isn’t. And it may well be in the firm’s own self-interest, as you describe it, to keep it that way.

    So we must ask the question as to why the foreigners are singularly unsuccessful in competing for those jobs, outside of the health service.

    Well, you’re holding up two other industries for comparison: ICT and Finance. And you’ve chosen to narrow work in these industries to a narrow subset: senior professional roles. Why do these industries employ more foreigners? The fact of supply meeting demand is the obvious answer, but there are additional considerations – a) both sectors use internationally recognised qualifications, or qualifications that can be easily homologated, meaning that the applicant with the list of qualifications most apt for the particular job will be most likely the one who gets it; b) there are fairly standard job specifications for such jobs, and as such experience working in one firm, regardless of where it is based, will make it easier for you to get a job in another; c) standard job specs mean more people are likely to apply. None of a), b) nor c) applies for highly skilled public sector jobs, with the possible exception of frontline health services.

    I don’t think you’ve managed your apples-to-apples comparison yet. It may even be impossible, since, for example, a senior software engineer doing work for the public sector is most likely in the employ of a private firm with a government contract.

  17. Proposition Joe

    July 21, 2009 8:23 am

    @Hugh

    The key point about internal transfers is that MNCs facilitate this practice as part of the search for the best possible candidate. It is done primarily in the organization’s own interest, with the happy side effect that an internal secondee might also fullfill their ambtition to travel or whatever.

    Contrast this with the public sector situation where internal candidates are rigidly preferred primarily with the individual’s interest at heart, despite this preference weakening the organization as a whole.

    Internal transfers in MNCs are not some sort of conspiracy to keep the outsiders out and the insiders happy. The same cannot be said of restrictive hiring policies in the public sector.

    Now the reason I concentrate on finance and ICT is that I have direct personal knowledge of both sectors, not so as to cherry-pick some atypical out-lier sectors. Now I take your point on baord that qualifications in these areas tend to be more standardized. But we have to ask the question as to why this is. Is it because software engineering and advanced accountancy are unique amoung professional skills? Or is it because the universities and professional bodies have made an effort to standardize so as to facilitate the mobility of labour, thus giving employers the widest possible choice of candidates?

    Could the same approach be applied to public administration? Outside of Craggy Island, I’d contend that it could. Most of the supposed uniqueness in the Irish public administration is manufactured, for example the use of Irish as barrier to entry when little actual work is done through Irish outside of the afore-mentioned department and a very small number of very specialized roles (drafting legistation through Irish for example).

  18. Proposition Joe

    July 21, 2009 8:32 am

    @Conor

    70% is no doubt on the high side of wrong, but I don’t think its an order of magnitude out as you contend.

    Assuming for example that 2006 was typical of the period, during which “60% of the new jobs for women were in the public sector dominated areas of health, education, public administration, and defence” according to RTE’s (probably Lee’s) analysis of the CSO figures.

    Perhaps the key confusion here is around new jobs versus new entrants to the labour-force?

    In any case, I think we’ve strayed somewhat from the main point.

    Which is the startlingly low integration of foreign workers into the core public service, outside of health. Only 1% for the year in question above, despite broad success throughout the rest of the economy (10.7% for the same year).

    In any functioning labour market, a large influx of suitably qualified candidates will tend to act as a limiter on the rise in wage rates. My contention is that the core PS was kept artificially immune from such competitive pressure, through restrictive and inflexible hiring practices.

    The results are two-fold: higher wages obviously, but also a lower quality public service than could have been the case, had the talents of those available foreign workers been fully leveraged.

  19. Conor McCabe

    July 21, 2009 8:53 am

    “70% is no doubt on the high side of wrong, but I don’t think its an order of magnitude out as you contend. ”

    Excuse me?

    Proposition Joe, I’ve given you evidence, the least you can do is give me some evidence to back up what you’re saying. If private sector employment doesn’t account for 80-85% of all growth in female employment from 2002 to 2006, the least you can do is give me the counter-evidence to back that up.

    If you don’t want to accept the facts, that’s fine. But, let’s be clear about this. you’re rejecting the evidence, and you’re not putting forward evidence for a counter-argument.

    And as for the “assumption” that 2006 was typical, I don’t understand the logic of what you are saying.

    I give you an analysis of four years, and your reaction is to say, well, I’ll reject 2002 to 2005, and instead I’ll say that 2006 is typical of all the years – even though we have the aggregate figures for the years you are rejecting – and we can make assumptions about 2002 to 2005 (even though we don’t have to, because we have the figures). And the assumption is that the public sector accounted for 60% of all growth in female employment (which it didn’t, as the actual figures show).

    But, even with that, even when you look at the figures for 2006, you just go back to RTE and George Lee and their spin on those figures. (public sector “dominated.”)

    Also, you say this:

    “Perhaps the key confusion here is around new jobs versus new entrants to the labour-force?”

    Yet, the RTE spin you link to, states this:

    “A total of 76,800 new jobs were created in Ireland in the 12 months to February this year, according to the latest official numbers from the Central Statistics Office. This represented an increase in employment of 3.8%… 60% of the new jobs for women were in the public sector dominated areas of health, education, public administration, and defence.”

    you’re not even reading the stuff you’re citing.

    You are consciously rejecting facts in favour of assumptions.

  20. Proposition Joe

    July 21, 2009 9:38 am

    Conor, you’re going down a rabbit hole with this 70%.

    That was an off-the-cuff illustration of the massive demand for public service labour in the period of the boom. Turned out to be a mis-quotation of the original source, which itself was questionable. The assumption that 2006 was typical was based on the loose notion that there should no particular reason for public sector recruitment to spike in 2006 as compared to previous years. But now that I recall there was a general election in 2007, I guess that year could have seen an anomalously large PS intake given the Fianna Fáil clientelist tendency to buy votes with patronage.

    In any case can you at least accept that the state was one of the largest employers of new female labour-force entrants during the boom?

    The question is why those females tended overwhelmingly to be called Blaithín or Clíodhna and not Magdalena or Olga.

    Perhaps part of the answer lies in the patronage system mentioned above. Foreign workers are not automatically entitled to vote in general (as opposed to local) elections. This provides the incentive for the political establishment to collaborate with the unions in the maintenance of a rigid insider/outsider model. I recall Bertie explaining once that he was against open recruitment to medium and higher grades, as it would be unfair to the lower grade officials in his department taking night courses to improve their promotional opportunities.

    Imagine, having to compete for advancement? The notion that the better candidate should get the job (who also would have attended day or night school) was naturally considered secondary to a preference for promoting the insider.

    So we have mutually reinforcing incentives here. Restrictive hiring tends to inflate wages, keeping the unions on-side. These practices also maximize the return on the patronage out-lay made by the political establishment.

    The losers are of course the outsiders, who suffer a public service of lesser quality and greater cost while being shut out from the employment opportunities.

  21. Conor McCabe

    July 21, 2009 10:29 am

    “In any case can you at least accept that the state was one of the largest employers of new female labour-force entrants during the boom?”

    No. I don’t. For the silly reason that the facts show otherwise.

    “That was an off-the-cuff illustration of the massive demand for public service labour in the period of the boom.”

    I love how you’ve phrased this: the off-the-cuff remark is wrong, while the erroneous assumption it illustrates still stands.

    for what it’s worth, here are figures for employment growth by NACE sector (rev.2) from Apr-jun 06 to Apr-jun 07. CSO – http://www.cso.ie/statistics/empandunempilo.htm Drops are in brackets.

    Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing – (-400)
    Industry – 5,100
    Construction – 18,000
    Wholesale & Retail Trade; repair of motor vehicles and storage – 15,100
    Transport & Communication – (-700)
    Accommodation & food service activities – 5,800
    Information and communication – 700
    Financial, Insurance and Real Estate Activities – 6,800
    Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities – 7,900
    Administrative and Support Service Activities – 8,000
    Public Administration and Defence; compulsory Social Security – (-100)
    Education – 5,200
    Human Health and Social Work Activities – 9,800
    Other NACE activities – (-1,900)

    total increase from Apr-Jun 06 to Apr-Jun 07 = 79,000

    Proposition Joe, there was an actual DECREASE in public administration employment from 2006 to 2007 – yet you have the civil service commission opening the floodgates as patronage.

    In terms of RTE’s opinion piece, which you cite:

    Growth in health, education, public administration, and defence = 14,900.

    That’s around 19% of employment growth accounted for by public service “dominated” sectors – leaving 81% growth accounted for by jobs in the private sector.

    Now the breakdown of those private sector jobs is a story in itself, but you keep on asking me to drop all the evidence and accept your erroneous conclusions.

    for this to be true:

    “the state was one of the largest employers of new female labour-force entrants during the boom”

    we have to accept that the 19% growth in public service “dominated” sectors accounted for 60% of all growth in female employment.

    Even if every single one of the 14,900 new jobs in these sectors went to a woman, that would mean out of the remaining 64,100 new jobs in the private sector, only 9,934 went to women. It’s ridiculous.

    The evidence isn’t there for what you are saying.

    I mean, there’s an actual, recorded, DROP in public administration employment in the year preceding Apr-Jun 07, and what do you see?

    “The assumption that 2006 was typical was based on the loose notion that there should no particular reason for public sector recruitment to spike in 2006 as compared to previous years. But now that I recall there was a general election in 2007, I guess that year could have seen an anomalously large PS intake given the Fianna Fáil clientelist tendency to buy votes with patronage”

    A recorded drop in public administration jobs becomes in your eyes “an anomalously large PS intake.”

  22. Conor McCabe

    July 21, 2009 11:00 am

    with regard to the RTE figures on 2006-07 employment growth.

    Construction was large, but RTE has is accounting for 73% of all growth in male employment.

    So. 18,000. Let’s say all are male.
    That gives us 24,657 new jobs for males.

    The public service “dominated” figures gives us 14,900.

    So. 14,900. Let’s say all are female. (60% of all growth in female employment according to RTE.)

    That gives us 24,834 new jobs for females.

    So. That’s 49,491 new jobs created, assuming that all construction jobs were male, and all public service “dominated” jobs were female.

    Where does that leave the 23,509 other jobs? Some kind of RTE third sex we don’t know about?

    Even when we give 100% totals of male and female to construction and public service, the figures don’t add up.

  23. Proposition Joe

    July 21, 2009 11:12 am

    Again you confuse trends in total employment by sector with the destination of new entrants, failing to take replacement rates into account. So for example, a steep decline in male participation in a sector like education, where men were previously well represented, requires that an overwhelming percentage of new entrants be female (replacing the retirees who would be more evenly divided between genders).

    Also you seem to have narrowed “public service” to include only “public administration”, which only covers a minority within the wider public sector.

    In any case I think the CSO figures are a bit too coarse grained to really definitively establish what was going on with female employment. For example it shows a 9.8k increase in “Human health and social work activities” but fails to do any break down between frontline practitioners and back-office HSE staff. The former group are recruited very openly, whereas the latter are not.

  24. Conor McCabe

    July 21, 2009 11:34 am

    “In any case I think the CSO figures are a bit too coarse grained to really definitively establish what was going on with female employment.”

    Well you were happy to use them for your 60% female employment growth argument before I pointed out what nonsense those assumptions were.

    “Also you seem to have narrowed “public service” to include only “public administration”, which only covers a minority within the wider public sector.”

    Wrong. I have not narrowed “public service.” In fact, I make it clear that I am using RTE’s definition of “public service dominated”. The point about public administration is one you raised, not me. You were saying that public administration jobs were used as patronage. Well, where are the jobs then?

    “Again you confuse trends in total employment by sector with the destination of new entrants, failing to take replacement rates into account.”

    Excuse me? That’s just silly. ALL the figures you have quoted have been based on increases in employment, not replacement/adjustment in employment. Where did RTE say that the figures were replacement/adjustment? Here, let me quote it again:

    “A total of 76,800 new jobs were created in Ireland in the 12 months to February this year, according to the latest official numbers from the Central Statistics Office…. With almost 1,500 net new jobs per week being created in Ireland over the past 12 months, today’s numbers from the CSO represent more good news about the economy…. Specifically a whopping 73% of all the new jobs for men were in the construction sector, while 60% of the new jobs for women were in the public sector dominated areas of health, education, public administration, and defence.”

    Where is it dealing with replacement/adjustment? If 60% of women went into the public service between 2006 and 2007, and 73% of all males went into construction, what new sex is making up the figures for the growth in jobs for the rest of the economy?

    Whatever your problem is with the public service, Prop, it’s obviously personal, because any time you’ve tried to back up your points with actual evidence, it falls down like the pack of cliches it is.

  25. Proposition Joe

    July 21, 2009 12:04 pm

    Nothing personal at all, Conor. I’ve benefited handsomely myself from the largesse of the state, so I’ve no reason at all to be bitter.

    However any personal benefit I may have received doesn’t stop me from considering the underlying reasons for higher public sector renumeration.

    On this thread I have set out a couple of these factors, specifically restrictive hiring practices and political patronage.

    If you can lift your ideological blinkers for a minute, you might want to consider these and other factors such as rigid demarcation and monopolistic service provision.

  26. WorldbyStorm

    July 21, 2009 8:56 pm

    Got to say Prop Joe, you couldn’t be more wrong as regards the openess to hiring non-Irish in the third level sector. There’s no Irish speaking issue that I’ve come across in over a decade of working there myself.

    And you haven’t actually offered anything that one could call ‘proof’ for your contention that restrictive hiring practices or worse still political patronage play any part in these matters. Indeed the studies I’ve seen not least Dermot Keogh’s one of the Irish CS in particular points to how little part such patronage played (in part due to the legacy from the UK CS) and there’s small reason to believe it’s changed since he wrote that. As regards the employment of vast numbers of non-Irish or new Irish it’s hard to know whether you’re being entirely serious in your contention.

    As regards ideological blinkers, it’s also hard to understand that statement. I haven’t seen anything that Conor has written that might suggest he cleaves to a static CS. If anything what he writes points to the enormous complexity of the CS/PS and how it is far from the parodic characterisation of it as composed of penpushers and timeservers and is instead an activist and dynamic entity.

    By the way, as someone who worked for 10 years in an MNC, I’m not at all convinced by what I’d consider an idealised view of recruitment practices. The idea that positions are open externally before internally is certainly not the experience I had. Internal promotion worked much as one would expect. Indeed recruiting in was far from the norm, not least for obvious reasons when one considered human capital accrued through experience.

  27. Conor McCabe

    July 22, 2009 12:13 am

    Prop.

    So, no actual facts or figures then? you’ve had a full day and the best you could come up with was an RTE article you googled which has more holes in it than Dillinger.

    “any personal benefit I may have received doesn’t stop me from considering the underlying reasons for higher public sector renumeration.”

    Why not? all you’ve shown here today is how you are quite capable of stopping yourself from considering the facts of the matter.

    You were quite willing to use the CSO until it was shown that the facts contrasted with your opinion. Then you dropped it.

    you were quite willing to use RTE and George Lee until THAT was shown to be quite wrong as well.

    you have even misquoted me, and the comments you are talking about are here on this page! how can you misquote something that all you have to do is scroll up to re-read?

    Your points are weak, ill-thought out, and completely lacking in empirical evidence.

  28. Proposition Joe

    July 22, 2009 7:53 am

    @WorldByStorm

    We’re talking about two quite different models of political patronage. I suspect you had in mind the individualized model that’s rife for example down in the Law Library, where barristers with the right political connections are shown preferment in terms of lucrative state work and appointments.

    However the “genius” of Bertie was to realize that this model would never scale beyond relatively small numbers of clients. Hence Fianna Fáil developed a system of mass patronage, where generalized preferment is shown to a large group of state insiders, at the expense of the outsiders. The patronage isn’t expressed in preferment for entry-level appointments, as you rightly point out there are structures in place to keep this relatively honest at least for the lower grades. Rather its expressed in terms of generous pay rises and other beneficial conditions (internal promotions, allowances, early retirement etc.) for the in situ public service. The exchequer surplus feuled this mechanism and the partnership and benchmarking schemes provided the conduit.

    The FF mantra was to spread the love and the votes will takes of themselves. And as we saw in 2002 and 2007, those votes certainly did. In both those elections, the Labour Party (which should arguably be the natural home of the PS vote due to the union connection) did abysmally. One suspects those votes didn’t go the PDs.

    On the MNC recruitment issue, the point is that their recruitment choices are generally made in the organizition’s own interest. This rational behaviour is forced on them by competitive pressures. Internal candidates may be preferred, for very good reason, but external candidates will be recruited if the benefit of doing so outweighs the cost and risk. Contrast with the public service mid/high-level recruitment practices whereby a certain percentage (often 100%) appointed to certain grade must be sourced internally.

  29. Proposition Joe

    July 22, 2009 8:06 am

    @Conor

    You’ve adopted diversionary tactics throughout this thread to avoid addressing the substantive issue.

    As I said before, the exact percentage of female new entrants to the labour force who went into the public sector isn’t the issue here. Any reasonable commentator would agree that there was massive demand for public sector labour during the boom. Taking the net increase and the replacement rate, this as I said would be in the ballpark of 140k freshly-minted public servants (not counting job sharing, career breaks and maternity/parental leave). It would be ludicrous to contest the simple fact that the state itself was one of the biggest recruiters in the land throughout the boom period.

    The point, as I’ve repeatedly stated, is how few foreign workers have penetrated the core public service outside of health. As far as empirical evidence is concerned, I have posted the numbers for 2006: 10.7% across the broad economy, 1% in the core PS.

  30. Conor McCabe

    July 22, 2009 8:40 am

    “You’ve adopted diversionary tactics throughout this thread to avoid addressing the substantive issue.”

    Are you for real? I’ve given you facts and analysis, while all you’ve offered as a counter is bar-stool rhetoric.

    At one point you even rejected the empirical evidence of job growth from 2002 to 2006, in favour of your own assumptions!

    “It would be ludicrous to contest the simple fact that the state itself was one of the biggest recruiters in the land throughout the boom period.”

    That flies in the face of all the empirical data.

    The private sector made up 80-85% of all employment growth.

    “As far as empirical evidence is concerned, I have posted the numbers for 2006: 10.7% across the broad economy, 1% in the core PS.”

    you didn’t post anything. you misquoted an RTE report, and when that was pointed out to you, you said that the figures could be a “george-Leeism” alright.

    when I posted figures which contradicted the RTE report – figures from the CSO which give an indication of 80-85% of job growth from 2002to 2006 as taking place in the private sector – you then went on to say that, in fact, the RTE report deals with replacement/adjustment figures. Your quote:

    “you confuse trends in total employment by sector with the destination of new entrants, failing to take replacement rates into account.”

    your empirical evidence, the RTE report, says nothing of the sort. you just made that up.

    So. any time I bring actual evidence to this, you reject it in favour of your own bias and beliefs.

    you have yet to offer even one shred of evidence to back up your claim that “the state itself was one of the biggest recruiters in the land throughout the boom period” when the evidence points to between 80-85% of all job growth happening in the private sector.

    This is my favourite, though:

    “As far as empirical evidence is concerned, I have posted the numbers for 2006: 10.7% across the broad economy, 1% in the core PS.”

    Prop, you didn’t post those figures, I did.

  31. Proposition Joe

    July 22, 2009 8:58 am

    @Conor

    “Prop, you didn’t post those figures. I did.”

    No, I did.

    Have a look back through the thread. I think you’ll find the following was posted by me:

    “Only 1% for the year in question above, despite broad success throughout the rest of the economy (10.7% for the same year).”

    The source I took those figures from is here.

  32. Conor McCabe

    July 22, 2009 9:10 am

    My mistake. you did indeed. I thought you were using the figures I had listed from the CSO, but you’ve posted the link to the source just now, so now I see where you’re getting them from.

  33. Conor McCabe

    July 22, 2009 10:06 am

    Prop, you said that I’m avoiding the issue, but from the start you haven’t engaged at all with my post. Instead, you said that my post didn’t deal with “why” there weren’t numbers of foreign nationals in the public service – except there are, and they work in numbers in areas such as tax and social services and health and education, but, for your purposes, health and education don’t qualify as public services, but yet they DO qualify for you as public service when it comes to wages and aggregates and recruitment- and for your argument that the reason why wage levels in the public service were so high was because of restrictive hiring practices. I pointed out to you that, as my post shows, there are structural differences between the public and private sector, and these structural differences affect studies based on aggregates. No matter. you continued with this line of argument, offering nothing in the way of actual qualitative evidence except bar-stoolisms.

    you then made other statements, again having no relation to the substance of my post, which argued that the public sector was the largest recruiter during the boom. That is completely and utterly wrong. It isn’t the case at all, but where the public service DID recruit in numbers, it was in the areas of health and education – two sectors with noticeable numbers of foreign nationals working in them, and the two areas which you have EXCLUDED in your definition of public service with regard to your fantasy recruitment bar on foreign nationals in the public service.

  34. Tomaltach

    July 22, 2009 11:11 am

    There is an element of flame throwing in this thread, or at least the way I read it the temperature is a few degrees above the norm. That is not to at all to say it has generated more heat than light.

    I come equiped with no mountain of figures (so I hope Conor doesn’t blast me off the stage immediately!). Nevertheless, I’ll deliver my tuppence worth.

    I feel that Conor is right that private sector recruitment ran way ahead of public sector in the boom. Yes the public sector grew strongly, but to say as Prop does that it grew ‘massively’ is to push it beyond what the figures would seem to sustain. I have no ideological position on public service numbers : I am definitely not in favour of ‘shrinking’ government for the sake of it, nor would I claim that all services or even most should be provided by the state. Frankly, I don’t care who provides essential services as long as it is of high quality and, as far as possible, available to all citizens.

    I think the government tackled some issues in a genuine way, such as extra special needs and better ratios in deprived areas. Also there is no doubt that additional recruitment in health allowed extra levels of service to be provided (waiting lists did start to come down). On the other hand I cannot say that the proliferation of agencies was always justified. In short – the swelling in public service numbers during the boom was, in my opinion, mostly positive, but, in terms of numbers, we ought to pay attention to value for money among some of the agencies.

    On the subject of hiring. Well, I know that in the IT sector there has been very significant recruitment from abroad (out of necessity of course, but who is pretending here that any organisation, public or private, is or should be some sort of jobs charity). I have worked in a number of companies (large and small, Irish owned and not) and I have been involved in recruitment. I would say, honestly from what I’ve seen, that the process has been very open. In all cases I have witnessed, decisions have been made on ability only. The only place I saw that skewed a little was in France, where some managers had a soft spot for graduates of the ‘grands écoles’. But in Ireland no. I agree with a statement above in the thread that the job specs and skills in this area are pretty much international. I would also say that in my experience the numbers of foreign nationals who come on internal transfers within an MNC is relatively small. Even companies which had active programs in this area (like Nortel networks or TI), the numbers I saw never passed single digits.

    I cannot offer conclusive proof that there are certain restrictive practices in the private sector or public service, but I would say it seems that in certain job areas and professions in Ireland there has been a reluctance to remove restrictions on widening the potential pool of recruits. I hasten to add this is not confined to the public sector – but is a situation which develops when a profession or category gain sufficient control over entry to their own profession. The law and medicine come to mind. It took Eu directives in 2005 and 2006 to start pushing the medical profession to begin to recognise outside qualifications. Another example is the guards – who resisted civilianisation as long as they could. The Irish language thing still exists in some areas too, though it seems to be in decline. I know NUIG retains the requirement for most positions. (Tokenism and even most foreigners with a bit of work can pass it, but a barrier none the less). I have no survey at hand which says whether the public service or private sector is the greater offender here. But if I working on the basis that there are fewer opportunities for this kind of control in the private sector, where, a few closed professions apart, most firms are at the mercy market forces, then I would say that these kind of practices are probably more common in the public service. As far as I recall the OECD report said that mobility has very limited across our public service in general and that it was a significant barrier to providing a more integrated service. That is not exactly the same as recruitment of course, but I can imagine that similar organisational and cultural facets contribute to both.

  35. Proposition Joe

    July 22, 2009 11:20 am

    @Conor

    In fairness, all along I’ve been careful to exclude frontline health practitioners from my comments on the ethnic bias in the PS. My own theory is that the atypically open recruitment practices in this sector account for this diversity, though obviously there could be other explanations. Such as the standardization of qualifications (as suggested earlier on this thread) or the artificially limited pool of Irish workers in some areas (e.g. the IMO-promoted cap on the number of doctors trained).

    Now I’m not so sure the education sector would fare as well. It would be really interesting to see an ethnic breakdown of the additional headcount in education.

    Anecdotally one hears that a surprising proportion of star academics lured from abroad under various salary-boosting schemes just happen to be Irish born. Though of course one could put such sentiments down to cattiness. And in any case, the numbers involved are very small in the context of overall PS intake.

    But I would maintain that it’s worth considering the diversity of recruitment into the core PS also. The intake there wasn’t as large as it was for education or health, but it must still have been substantial just to keep things ticking over.

  36. WorldbyStorm

    July 22, 2009 10:59 pm

    @WorldByStorm

    We’re talking about two quite different models of political patronage. I suspect you had in mind the individualized model that’s rife for example down in the Law Library, where barristers with the right political connections are shown preferment in terms of lucrative state work and appointments.

    Important to clarify what one means when one uses a term such as patronage that has a rather specific meaning. Actually I was also thinking of some of the distortions we’ve seen in certain semi-state areas and in one part of the education sector.

    However the “genius” of Bertie was to realize that this model would never scale beyond relatively small numbers of clients. Hence Fianna Fáil developed a system of mass patronage, where generalized preferment is shown to a large group of state insiders, at the expense of the outsiders. The patronage isn’t expressed in preferment for entry-level appointments, as you rightly point out there are structures in place to keep this relatively honest at least for the lower grades. Rather its expressed in terms of generous pay rises and other beneficial conditions (internal promotions, allowances, early retirement etc.) for the in situ public service. The exchequer surplus feuled this mechanism and the partnership and benchmarking schemes provided the conduit.

    Are you suggesting that “generous” wage increases in the public sector – increases that were made after decades of relatively low wages in that sector, and during a time of considerable economic expansion when there was an attrition effect initially on numbers going to the PS as private sector recruitment became more attractive – are somehow unique to this state? I think that’s a dubious contention. As for ‘internal promotions’, early retirement, etc being somehow a proof of this if we look barely a few hundred miles to the east we see much the same structure for the UK PS/CS. Even after benchmarking PS wages were only marginally above private sector wages and I think Conor’s analysis as to why that might occur is fairly convincing.

    BTW On the broader ideological level I’d strongly argue for the extension of whatever benefits there are in the PS to the private sector. But there are problematical aspects of that.

    The FF mantra was to spread the love and the votes will takes of themselves. And as we saw in 2002 and 2007, those votes certainly did. In both those elections, the Labour Party (which should arguably be the natural home of the PS vote due to the union connection) did abysmally. One suspects those votes didn’t go the PDs.

    That’s a rather partial reading of the history. The Labour Party has been notoriously unsuccessful across the history of the state in attracting voters. I don’t believe the the union link made much difference one way or another. The 2002 – 2007 period was unlikely to be any better given that it was during economic good times.

    On the MNC recruitment issue, the point is that their recruitment choices are generally made in the organizition’s own interest. This rational behaviour is forced on them by competitive pressures. Internal candidates may be preferred, for very good reason, but external candidates will be recruited if the benefit of doing so outweighs the cost and risk. Contrast with the public service mid/high-level recruitment practices whereby a certain percentage (often 100%) appointed to certain grade must be sourced internally.

    But that actually makes sense and for a number of reasons. Firstly costs of training and experience are then maximised by the return of seeking internal candidates over external ones. That training, as say in the DFA, is very specific. Secondly it avoids further costs of external recruitment from advertising through to increasing wages in order to attract suitably qualified applicants from the private sector. Thirdly the CS in particular is open at times (dependent on embargoes) to entrants to higher level grades, they then serve their time and work their way through the system but from a better starting point than someone who arrived at the lowest rung on the ladder. There’s a strong argument that that is a good way of managing such things since external arrivees will have different skillsets that may well be of value but they will also inculcate CS values. All of which are very much in the interest of the PS as an organisation.

    But all this points to a basic truth that the Public Sector and Private Sector are not directly comparable across a range of areas and that arguably when the PS attempts to act like the private sector it runs into contradictions. The most obvious is, as we’ve seen in the Health Sector, the necessity for extravagant wages in order to hire and retain staff at higher levels. As it happens I’m a big fan of the US approach of public service as something of value in and of itself, that wages may not be extravagant, although certain aspects of employment will be beneficial, and that this is worth promoting.

    As it happens I’m all for open competitions, although I think that that would raise costs in the public sector, but I’m not at all surprised that people in situ will more than likely get a position. Precisely the same process is evident in the private sector in my experience. As it happens again referencing my experience, the highest mobility in private enterprises appears to be at sales level where staff turnover is considerable from telesales, floorstaff, sales managers etc… in most other areas movement is much much slower. It stands to reason. In those areas I just refrenced we’re often talking about younger people starting out in their careers. Or we’re talking about sales managers and representatives whose experience and connections are readily transferable from company to company (indeed there may even be a premium on that experience as it confers competitive advantage to a company that can recruit them). In mid levels and on into middle and higher management individuals tend to be a little older and a little more willing to remain within an organisation. There is, most definitely, some movement at the top, but often that is rather cosmetic with little impact on the day to day running of a business.