The opportunities for employment in the public sector in South Africa are both varied and extensive. Often, when seeking employment, the potential for security, training and career options within government positions are overlooked in favour of the more glamourous and possibly higher paid jobs in the private sector. However, there is a great overlap of disciplines from one sector to another – and what you expect to be exciting and motivating in the private sector, you may find equally rewarding in government.
Making a choice
The interesting thing about government opportunities is that the range is so large – and that it applies to all levels of government, from national to provincial to local. The primary difference between those seeking private sector careers and those ready to explore the public sector, is generally a divide between a preference for business dynamics or having a strong sense of community.
Before you choose between these two sectors, let’s look at what the fundamentals are of each, so that you can evaluate yourself against the pro’s and con’s of dedicating your life either way:
- Both sectors offer extremely broad career opportunities.
- Both sectors offer good training and career mobility.
- Higher wages may be found in the private sector but there is job instability due to market fluctuations, management capability, business strategy, competition, etc.
- Whereas you may expect lower wages with government, you may also find greater job security over time.
- In a private job, your responsibility is always to the good and advancement of the company as a whole.
- Within government responsibility is broader, and covers both to your employer and society at large.
- While business is hard-edge profit focus, government has to be about service. Making that kind of difference can be game-changing for people’s lives and have far-reaching effects.
If your intention is to high fly, and you want freedom to choose greater diversity – and you’re not afraid of the often lethal cut and thrust of the business world – then you would no doubt be happier making your mark in a private company. However, if you do care about making a real difference that will impact on your community and the future of the country as a whole, then you might prefer to choose a career in government. Whichever you choose, investing in your career is not much different from investing in the financial market: you have to have to equip yourself with knowledge and tenacity.
Careers in government
From taking up the stance of a politician and MP, to the array of administrative posts within government, to the opportunities within state-owned enterprises and health services, libraries, the police force, education – through to construction, transport, recreation, community development, cleansing, and street sweeping, there is literally a job to suit every aspiration and level of education. If the purpose to serve is never lost, then government truly holds the trump card for job satisfaction.
Some specific areas worth investigating offer an extraordinary amount of choice: Infrastructure development; Agriculture; Mining and beneficiation; Manufacturing; Green economy; Tourism. And Parliament itself can attract with a range of services that require passion and dedication:
- Administrative and procedural support
- Secretarial and administrative support
- Library and research services
- Legal drafting and advisory services
- Language translation, reporting and interpreting
- Building facilities management and catering
- Human Resources, Technology, Communications, Financial Management services.
Why government careers can uphold values and vision
Parliament is always under scrutiny. And that goes for all areas of employment throughout the sector. Good standards are set up for daily measurement to keep your eye on the ball and your motivation high:
Vision: An activist and responsive people’s Parliament that improves the quality of life of South Africans and ensures enduring equality in our society.
Mission: Parliament aims to provide a service to the people of South Africa by providing: a vibrant people’s assembly that intervenes and transforms society and addresses the development challenges of our people; effective oversight and participation; and an innovative and efficient parliamentary service and administration.
Values: Professionalism; Openness; Teamwork; Accountability; Responsiveness; Integrity.
Just like a company brand that must uphold its values and commitments to keep customers happy and ensure a sustainable, positive image, so too must government be aware of maintaining its services to those who have put their trust in it to do so. When you contribute to that drive and that energy, then truly you are ensuring not only a better future for yourself, but also a better future for your country.