400 'safe' positions in civil service lure 15,000 applicants
THE civil service received over 37 applications for every one administrative officer post it advertised recently, according to finance minister Simon Hamilton.
There were 15,000 applicants for the 400 jobs, a sign he said that the civil service is seen as a good, comfortable, safe and secure organisation to work in.
Asked whether the higher wages generally commanded by civil service jobs also made the post popular, Mr Hamilton said the factor may have been partly to blame.
He put the premium paid to public sector workers over those in the private sector – which had expanded to 45% at the end of last year compared to 17.8% for the rest of the UK – down to the fact the economy here barely grew during the Troubles.
"The reason we have that imbalance is because the economy wasn't functioning properly for years," he said.
But he said the issue is being addressed and will be looked into further if it is draining the private sector.
"Pay levels (in the public sector) have in part been addressed through pay freezes," he said.
"It's a difficult challenge as you've got so many people with contracts.
"But if we were becoming gravelly concerned that this was having a negative effect on the private sector then of course we'd have to do something about it."
His comments follow criticism from business groups that high public sector wages are draining talent from the private sector.
Mr Hamilton said if that's the case then he will make sure the talent is exploited further.