Government Jobs and Private jobs: Is there a choice?

Government Jobs and Private jobs: Is there a choice?: In 2016 when central government approved the recommendations of 7th Pay Commission, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant called it a positive step that will reduce the gap of pay between the salary of a public sector employee and a private sector. Kant told the Economic Times that,”(the) salaries in government have an edge over the private sector, at least in the first 10 years of experience. Although remuneration in the private sector is still more attractive at senior levels, the 7th CPC has perhaps made the task of wooing talent from government even more difficult.”

Government Jobs vs Private Jobs

This statement reopened the debate between the positives and negatives of a government job and private job then, and the debate is surviving even today.

The debate revolves around the potential of a job to fulfill the ideals of psychological and financial needs of a human being. It is often debated that the financial needs like wages and salaries, good working conditions, retirement benefits and security of job are more or less provided by the private sector. While the psychological needs like nurturing of creativity, job satisfaction, self-esteem and recognition are fulfilled by private sector jobs.

This option of choosing between the financial and psychological needs is what drives the big debate. But according to a noted theorist Abraham Maslow, the mission of a life is fulfilled only when there is a balance of both the needs in a job.

Employees today are seeking these needs in their jobs and this is what ideally should be looked at. Following is a limpid description of the reality of key areas in both government and a private job.

What that would come every month: Salary

Like a private company, even the public sector is divided according to the onus of managerial position- lower order, middle order and higher order. Lower level positions i.e. the entry-level positions in a government job are lucrative in comparison to a private job whether it is a driver or an accountant. The government pays you more than the private counterpart. But the thing about government job is that a good percentage of your salary is cut every month as part of a transfer to the Provident Fund, which one can use in times of need or post-retirement. This means that at the end of the day, in hand salary for both government and the private employee is almost same.

But this also means that a private employer does not enjoy as much privileges and rewards as a government employee. (Refer the Perks and Allowance section)

But when it comes to higher positions in a central/state government job like the ones on Secretary or Cabinet Secretary level, than the private counterpart earns way more than the government employee. According to a study by IIM Ahmedabad in 2016, the highest position in a government job will pay around 2.5 lakhs per month while a CEO of a private firm would earn nothing less than 10-12.5 lakhs per month.

Perks and Allowances

In central government jobs, the employees receive as many as 196 allowances and benefits including the essential ones like medical benefits, maternal benefits and pension after retirement. But there are many other exquisite allowances that government employees on higher managerial ranks or those posted in unfamiliar geographical locations receive. These are allowances like the Books Allowance (to buy books), Briefcase Allowance (to buy briefcase), Bad Weather Allowance (when the weather at the posted location is not well) and the Family HRA Allowance (that allows the employee to retain the last inhabited house where posted).

In comparison to this, most of the firms in the private sector offer substantially lesser benefits to its employees. Though multinational and larger scale companies offer medical insurances, rent allowance and family allowance and benefits most of the private companies choose to remain out of this ambit. Big names like Google, for instance, are known for offering nutritious food, healthy workspaces and many more benefits to their employees.

With time though there has been change in that perception of the private employers, but government job weighs more on the scale of offering the extra perks.

How secure is my job?

In terms of job permanency, traditionally it has been believed that a government job is most secure. This is why there has been upsurge in the number of people applying for a government job, a fact evident from the 30 lakh applications received for recent SSC CGL exam. Similar, figures are evident in case of UPSC jobs (Union Public Services Commission) or State Service Commissions. In September 2015, 23 lakh candidates applied for 368 peon positions in Uttar Pradesh with many of the candidates being MBAs and PhD holders. The reason why these people were willing to earn 20,000 per month instead of opting for a position that is more reputable is that government job is more stable.

This inclination has probably been propped up because of the recurrent trend of pink slips being handed to private employees post 2008 global financial meltdown.

Thus this has been feared that the private sector depends on the global financial environment and government sector is not. But this belief has recently been challenged with the growing inclination of government outsourcing its work to private entities. The central government outsources positions like data-entry operators currently and plans to expxand it other senior positions.

Call for Self-actualization

The biggest deterrent for s person to opt for a private job is because it encourages one to perform to their full potential. And good performance is often complimented with salary hikes, rewards and so on. Though government under UPA regime introduced performance monitoring mechanism it was merely cosmetic.

In terms of creativity and self-satisfaction, the good news is that government jobs are no longer monotonous and typical. With the introduction of various think-tanks like Niti Aayog and sub-centres under Ministries for niche research like digital expansion, culture promotion, and so on, the government has begun the process of recruiting employees based on their skill-set.

Thus government jobs are no longer limited to Professors, Scientists and Bureaucrats, other upbeat professionals are also welcome in the various government department. For instance, there are posts like Assistant Director of the Forensic Audit department for which the candidate needs to be a Chartered Accountant, Company Secretary, Financial Analyst or an MBA Degree holder. This means that this gives him/her an opportunity to use their skill set in an effective manner. Another job is of a Commercial Tax Officer for which the candidate needs to have a background of Economics or Business Studies. Government jobs like these can be secured by attempting an exam conducted by UPSC.

According to the data shared by Reserve Bank of India, Government sector employs 17.61 percent of the workforce in the country while the private sector employs 12.04 percent of total workforce. This surplus of employees in public sector vis-à-vis private sector has been maintained since the very beginning but the gap has reduced substantially since 2008.

This changing landscape of public and private sectors has reduced the earlier disparity between the two sectors. This is a hopeful period for the younger prospective employees of Young India.

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