Job security in the private sector vs. government jobs

Do employees in the private sector have a better chance of loosing their positions than government officials in the same positions or is job security not an issue? No, employees in the private sector have a 50% better chance of loosing their jobs than the government employees.

Many people start their careers in a government department. Entry level jobs are more readily available and the government positions have always been known as the safe career option with more job security.

This is mainly due to the fact that government is responsible for the labor acts and laws - hence they have to adhere to them.

In most countries the labor laws state that:

  • A percentage of new employees have to be appointed each year.
  • Employees in the same position for a certain amount of time have to be promoted.
  • A certain part of the budget has to be spent on training staff.

Government departments also have to give more attention to labor unions and their demands. In general, even if an employee doesn't deserve a pay increase everybody receive a yearly increase. This type of job security lacks in the private sector.

Seen in the light that most of the government departments are not profit orientated, the chances are very slim that any employees will be retrenched or dismissed due to restructuring or downsizing, although during long slumps or economic depressions large scale retrenchment also hits this sector.

In the private sector however, job security is more based on performance.

These are mostly listed or privately owned companies with one purpose in mind, namely to show a profit at the end of the financial year. Dividends need to be paid out to shareholders, who in most cases started the companies from scratch with a lot of blood sweat and tears. They have no tolerance for dead wood and want their companies to run like a well oiled machine. If this means streamlining the company and getting rid of the drift wood they will do so without hesitation.

Private companies also prefer employees that fit in with the company's culture, vision and mission and will without hesitation get rid of employees who don't make the grade.

If employees want a pay increase they have to work for it and salary increases are based on the individual?s performance as well as the profit margin the company showed for that financial year.

Even if you perform well, the changes are that if the company goes through a slump and budget cuts have to be made even top performers are at risk. Obtaining job security in this sector entails hard work, good networking and effective communication.