17 November 2005 | Anusha Bradley
Public sector buyers are "happy" in their jobs and are closing the pay gap with the private sector.
Those were the findings of a survey of 3,000 public sector buyers by recruitment firm Hays Purchasing, in association with the Society of Procurement Officers in Local Government (SOPO).
Respondents cited a higher salary, more interesting work and extra responsibility as factors prompting their last career move. Two-thirds said they would recommend their current employer.
The research found heads of procurement have seen their wages rise by 17 per cent in the past year to an average of £58,412. This is 10 per cent higher than peers in the private sector who earn around £52,992, but lower than the average of £61,500 in manufacturing.
The survey also found the national average salary for buyers in the private sector was only £1,500 above public-sector peers. Pat Law, national director for Hays Purchasing, said the difference was now "less of an issue" and was negated by better working conditions.
"The survey blows away the perception about working in the public sector. People are realising it is more interesting than working in a bank, for instance."
SOPO chief executive Peter Howarth agreed: "You're doing something for the social good." But he said more experienced staff were needed and consultants came at "considerable cost".
The study also examined working conditions alongside salaries and 90 per cent of respondents felt they have enough time to spend with family and friends and 88 per cent enjoy flexible working hours - highlighted as a critical factor when considering a new job.
More than 75 per cent of buyers work an average of a day and a half overtime a week, but nearly 80 per cent of those said it was their choice.