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Public or private sector – where do you fit?

Written by: CIPS Procurement & Supply Jobs
Published on: 26 Feb 2024

From job variety to increased compensation, check out the key advantages of working in the public or private sector for procurement and supply professionals.

Public or private sector - where do you fit?

Wondering whether to pick a procurement or supply chain job in the public or private sector? Unsure if the grass is greener on the other side? Both sectors offer a variety of benefits for procurement and supply professionals, so we’ve highlighted some key advantages of each to help you choose the right fit.

Advantages of the public sector:

Impact: procurement and supply professionals in the public sector often feel they effect real change in the community around them. While many private-sector roles also have positive impacts, being directly involved with public services allows you to feel that you’re instigating change with positive repercussions for society.  

Variety: the direct interface with the public means you can work on a huge variety of projects and contracts alongside a variety of different people, groups and companies on a regular basis. 

Work-life balance: Although this can vary from organisation to organisation, the public sector generally offers the chance to find a flexible work-life balance. Public-sector roles often come with more generous annual leave allowances and role stability.  

Job security: while many public-sector roles and functions were affected by the austerity cuts of the noughties, it’s still generally true that there is greater job security in the public sector. Immense value is placed on the public procurement process, so you may be able to find a role with stability and security in the public sector. While there is always the chance of layoffs, this is probably less likely than in the private sector Long-term benefits, especially pensions, tend to be more generous and predictable in the public sector, enabling you to plan your life ahead.  

Transparent career progression: public- sector activity is often subject to regulation, meaning most organisations will have clear career paths with defined bandings, succession plans and progression routes in place. And these will generally be communicated with transparency. 

Advantages of the private sector:

Competitive compensation: while there are many well-remunerated public-sector procurement and supply roles, procurement and supply professionals in the private sector do tend to receive higher salaries and bonuses compared to their public- sector counterparts.  

Budget flexibility: procurement professionals in the private sector have more flexibility with their budget due to the profit-oriented nature of private organisations. It’s the nature of the market that plans can deviate from the spending guidelines and money can be moved around in-line with business or economic requirements. 

Autonomy: in general, you may find a greater sense of autonomy and flexibility around decision- making in the private sector. Procurement professionals will often feel a sense of ownership and authority over strategic and operational decisions.  

Career advancement: this will, of course, depend on your ambition and drive, but procurement and supply professionals will find great opportunities for promotion and advancement in the private sector. This can be a fast-moving world, with flexible and decentralised processes. The world’s your oyster... 

Dynamic environment: the private sector is dynamic and fast paced, with professionals able to adapt and evolve their strategies, services and products as the market and their customers determine. Private- sector organisations are often at the forefront of innovation, which will suit agile, dynamic personality types. 

Remember, a lot of it comes down to personal preference and your career goals!

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