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SME employers willing to hire, but not from the public sector, research shows

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Small businesses are set to hire new staff in 2011, but are unwilling to hire ex-public sector workers.

According to a survey of SME employers by utility price comparison website uSwitch, 22% of small to medium business enterprises (SMEs) intend to hire new staff but just 2% of them would actively seek to recruit public sector workers.

Almost a quarter of small businesses would hire a public sector worker if there was no one else for the job. One in 10 would not hire a public sector worker whatsoever. The news comes as redundancy in the public sector is expected to increase in 2011, with impending cuts on the NHS, councils and the military.

The survey reveals a widely spread perception that public sector industry has developed 'over-indulged staff with unrealistic expectations of the work place'. More than half (55%) of SME owners believe public sector workers to be unrealistic in their expectations about pay, holidays and employment terms, and only 11% of those questioned considered public sector workers to be as productive as their private sector counterparts.

SME owners also perceive public sector workers to be incompatible with their businesses - just 6% think that a public sector worker would fit in well with their company, a worrying indicator of the level of hostility public sector workers may find when they are looking for employment. Despite this, almost three quarters (72%) of SME owners expect their business to grow or at least retain its size.

James Constant, director of uSwitchforbusiness, said: "The Government is pinning its hopes on the private sector being ready, willing and able to offer employment to redundant public sector workers.

"What it hasn't grasped is that employers view public and private sector candidates very differently. "Small businesses need workers that can fit in quickly, hit the ground running and add value to the bottom line - what this research shows is that there are grave doubts as to whether public sector workers can meet this demanding brief."