Make a difference


By Rob Whiteman, CIPFA CEO

There has never been a timelier moment to embark on a career in the public sector. The COVID-19 pandemic took us all by surprise and sent shockwaves through the sector like nothing we had seen in our lifetimes.

Local businesses and communities are suffering amid the economic fallout of the pandemic. Unemployment has never been higher, and local authorities are facing greater financial difficulties than ever before as they continue to provide vital services to their local areas.

In response to the crisis, frontline workers such as NHS staff, care workers and police officers have responded heroically to the new challenges that they have been dealt. Behind the scenes, public finance professionals have also offered incredible support to ensure that money is managed effectively and public services are delivered to those who need them.

The work that we do in the public sector is both rewarding and, yes, heroic. The individuals who work in public finance have the responsibility of managing the deployment of resources to support the vulnerable. In many respects, public finance professionals can also be considered key workers.

If your career goals are rooted in making a difference and helping the people who need it most – now is the time to work in public sector finance. The impact you could make on the lives of the most vulnerable has never been greater than it is right now. As public finance professionals tackle the aftermath of COVID-19, there is so much that can be brought to the table by bright, new minds with a fresh take on how to get things done.

Finance professionals are needed in all areas of the public sector. You might choose to embark on a career in health sector finance by undertaking an NHS Professional Accountancy Apprenticeship. This crucial role is the backbone of public financial management to ensure the fight against COVID-19 continues resiliently.

Housing is another area of focus for the public sector, and one that is crucial to helping those in need. Even before the pandemic, the UK was facing a housing crisis. CIPFA's data shows upwards of 17 years to work through. With so many families facing evictions and homelessness in this country, the need for public finance professionals to work in and in support of the housing sector is high.

Another group of frontline responders who keep our communities safe are police officers and firefighters. They too need dedicated public finance professionals to manage their resources and ensure that they have the equipment to carry out their vital duties.

The co-ordination and hard work exhibited by members of the public sector to fight this pandemic has been nothing short of incredible. In a short time, we were able to respond with speed and resolve to change our ways of working to fight COVID-19.

If you are considering a career in the public sector, now is the time to do so. You have the opportunity to make a lasting impact on local communities at a time when so many are struggling. The shockwaves that are being felt around the sector will have an impact for years to come, and the decisions that we make now will change people's lives. You could be part of the next generation of public finance leaders that not only fought through the aftermath of COVID-19, but also shaped the future of public service delivery,

This article first appeared in PQ Magazine.

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