Retention of public sector workers above national average

17 Jun 19

Police officers, nurses, midwives and teachers are most likely to stay in their professions out of the overall UK workforce, according to new research.

The Office for National Statistics’ Annual Population Survey, which analyses the impact of staff retention on the public sector among other issues, revealed that 10 of the 15 largest public sector occupations have a retention rate above the total public sector average.

What’s more, from 2016 to 2017, the UK workforce one-year retention rate – employees that stayed with the same employer or in a similar occupation – was 83%, while the public sector one-year retention rate was 84%.

The police had the highest retention rate in the public sector, with 94% remaining as police officers between 2016 and 2017. Police officers were closely followed by nurses and midwives, and heads of educational establishments. Both occupations had retention rates of 92%.

Primary school teachers were more likely to stay in the teaching professions than secondary school teachers (87% compared with 82% respectively). Further education teachers had a below-average retention rate, with 79% remaining in teaching professions – lower than the retention rates of all other teaching professions. Care workers, and cleaners and housekeepers also had below-average retention rates (67% and 74% respectively).

The report said the data was important because while changing career can lead to exciting opportunities for individuals and while new people can bring fresh perspective to a profession, “when people move on, employers can lose knowledge, experience and institutional memory”.

“Retaining staff, while maintaining a healthy turnover, is important for efficiency,” the report added. “Recruiting and training new people costs time and money. The government invests in supporting the training for many of the largest public sector occupations, which means retaining those staff is important for giving value for money.”

Similar to the trend seen across the UK workforce, the report revealed that most larger public sector occupations saw a fall in their one-year retention rate between 2012 to 2013 and 2016 to 2017. A noticeable fall in the one-year retention rate was seen in public sector care workers, although this could be due to more care workers being contracted to the private sector, the report said.

Heads of educational establishments was the group that bucked this trend. In 2012 to 2013, 82% of heads of educational establishments were retained, with that figure rising to 92% in 2016 to 2017.

The report also revealed that workers aged 35 to 49 years have the highest retention rates in the public sector, followed by workers aged 50 to 60 years then workers aged 18 to 34 years.

Medical occupations had high retention rates for workers aged 18 to 34 years: 96% of nurses and midwives remained, 93% of nurse auxiliaries remained and 92% of doctors remained.

Did you enjoy this article?