Bridging public sector skills gaps with untapped talent pools

If you’ve seen my LinkedIn profile, you will see that over the past few months I have been in various places speaking to some of the loveliest Jobs Go Public clients. Although the towns are different, the conversation has been the same: the struggle to attract new talent.

Now, I love the public sector. In fact, both my parents worked for the sector, so from a very early age I knew my local council did more than just bins and potholes.

However, in this generation when you leave school, college, or university you don’t think “oh, how about my local council?” when you’re looking at a career. Unlike the private sector, the public sector isn’t loud enough about how wonderful it can be to work in and the marvellous things organisations do in their communities. 

What can we do to bridge skills gaps?

In a volunteering capacity I am an Enterprise Adviser and a School Governor. As a result, I'm regularly engaged with schools talking about careers. After all, our young people are our leaders of the future.

From schools’ perspectives they need more organisations to get involved and talk to their students, offering work experience and apprenticeships, and showcasing their industry.

I remember from speaking to a careers advisor when I was at school that it was Uni or nothing. There might have been a slight mention of an apprenticeship, but I knew I didn’t want to be a mechanic or electrician (however that would have been beneficial in later life!).

Most careers leads in schools are teachers, so mentoring students on careers isn’t their main job. If you think of a teacher, many have never actually left school, from being a student themselves to work experience, to being back in the classroom as a teacher.

Supporting our schools

As a parent who has attended my fair share of school trips, I know how incredibly hard teachers work, the patience they have, and the lack of resources available. So, I can appreciate that careers advice in schools can be one dimensional.

This got me thinking, if educators need more support with careers guidance and the public sector have many skills gaps, should the public sector be more involved with careers programmes in education?

Is this an untapped talent pool that local government could be utilising?

I understand that there may be time constraints and a need to hire urgently. However, if you’re building your talent pipeline then having these conversations with education leavers before they graduate could create a guaranteed source of talent for years to come.

Many private sector organisations already do this in various hard to fill job areas such as planning and building control. According to the Commons Library, there were 740,400 people participating in an apprenticeship in England in the 2021/22 academic year.

One way in which local government can engage with this demographic is to participate in a T-level programme. You can find out more about this fantastic new scheme in our webinar with United Colleges Group.

So, are there any other untapped talent pools that they public sector can be turning to as well?

Well, yes there are. 

Discover new sources of talent

At a recent East of England Local Government Association (EELGA) event I attended there were some great conversations about schemes working with veterans, prison leavers, and refugees.

Here are some examples of schemes that your organisation should be considering:


Ex-forces personnel often possess skills such as organisation, timekeeping and discipline. They will also have degrees, qualifications or accreditations, and have practical experience in subjects like engineering which are easily transferrable for similar roles in the public sector.

For inspiration, check out the Network Rail Military into Rail programme.

Prison leavers

Kier Group’s Making Ground programme creates employment opportunities for prisoners, giving them a second chance. Did you know that 1 in 4 people of working age in the UK have a criminal conviction?

What’s more, research by the Ministry of Justice demonstrates that a former offender is 9% less likely to re-offend when in steady employment.

Changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act in 2023 greatly reduce the time window after serving their sentence in which people with convictions are legally required to declare them to potential employers. This enables prison leavers back into work sooner, offering greater opportunity for rehabilitation.


Many refugees in the UK face the barrier of not having their qualifications recognised in the UK. This means that some refugees who do find jobs will be working in a lower paid role than they really have the skills for.

Organisations like the Refugee Council work to support and provide guidance. They provide training, careers advice and workshops. They have partnerships with companies such as Ikea, where some of their clients completed an 8 week paid work placement.

Let us support you...

Of course, there may be hesitation from organisations to hire refugees due to the lack of qualifications or the need for risk assessments.

However, with the British Chambers of Commerce reporting that three-quarters (73%) of UK organisations are currently experiencing skills shortages, recruitment remains one of the top challenges facing employers.

There are organisations already reaping the benefits of utilising untapped talent pools. These benefits include:

  • Improved diversity and inclusion
  • Increased productivity
  • A more skilled workforce through providing training and support.

At Jobs Go Public we work with a range of public sector organisations, offering workshops, supporting at Careers Fairs and connecting candidates with meaningful opportunities. For more information, contact us today!

Get in touch

Let us know how we can support your recruitment activity and contact us today.


See all posts