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Tue 29th Jun 2010

Disillusioned Workers Seek Medical Secretary Training

Recent employment figures have shown that increasing numbers of workers are choosing to move from the private to the public sector due to the current economic climate. As a result, many

secretaries are undergoing Executive PA training or medical secretary courses in order to enter into the NHS, according to one expert.

The Office for National Statistics' labour market report, released on April 22nd, revealed that the number of people in public sector employment in December last year was 5.78 million, an increase of 15,000 compared to September 2008.

By contrast, the number of employees working for private companies stood at 23.6 million in the last month of 2008, a drop of 13,000 from September last year. The largest falls in the number of available jobs occurred in the finance and business services sector, where employment levels fell by 102,000.

Rise In Public Sector Bonuses.

Meanwhile, average earnings, excluding bonuses, were up by 3.8 per cent year-on-year in the public sector during the three months to January 2009, whereas private sector wages rose by 3.1 per cent. Furthermore, when pay incentives were included in the figures, average wages rose by 3.7 per cent for employees in publicly-run organisations, but were down by 0.5 per cent for workers in private firms.

Responding to the figures, John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said there had been an "extraordinary" impact on private sector earnings.

"Bonuses have virtually died a death in the private sector this year as employers cut costs and staff try to hold onto their jobs," he explained.

Mr Philpott predicted that private sector earnings could experience a "marked slump" in the coming months due to price deflation.

With current statistics showing a trend towards reduced pay and a lack of job security within the private sector, it is not to wonder that employees are considering taking medical secretary courses in order to qualify for a profession in the public sector.

Medical Secretarial Training.

Keith Wymer, of Pitman Training in London's High Holborn and Notting Hill, explains: "We're hearing from a lot of general or team secretaries, particularly from the banking sector, who are so disgusted at what their bosses have done that they're considering retraining to move as medical secretaries into the safe haven of the NHS."

"The problem for these men and women is that you need to understand medical terminology, including prefixes, suffixes and plurals, relating to conditions," he suggests.

"Imagine getting a detail wrong in a referral letter which resulted in the wrong condition being treated," Mr Wymer adds.

"Also, a bit like the military, each medical specialism has its own way of setting out letters and documentation. If you can't type letters in the traditional format, you risk miscommunication," he says, highlighting the need for jobseekers to take typing courses in order to gain the necessary knowledge. Therefore, it is important that people undergo medical secretary training in order to qualify them for the job and to give them a better chance of securing employment.

Mr Wymer asserts that Pitman Training's medical secretarial courses address all the necessary knowledge required to make the move from private sector employment to an NHS position.

Sarah Van Der Heyden, public policy adviser at the CIPD, has also stressed the importance of upskilling during the recession and for the future. "It's not just about the current climate, it's building flexibility and being able to adapt to change over a longer period as well, so that you are prepared for any other economic climate," she said.

Personal Development.

"It is worth taking personal responsibility to develop, both for yourself and for your business, and for any change that may happen in the future as well," Ms Van Der Heyden stressed.

Derek Smart, chair at the Association of Executive Recruiters, has also suggested that qualifications and experience will be important for jobseekers as employers expect more from candidates.

"I think probably they are setting their sights higher as there are a lot of quality people out there," he said, which perhaps highlights the importance of gaining new qualifications to gain an advantage over other applicants. "They are certainly going to be upping the ante and looking, quite rightly, in a much more bullish market as far as candidates are concerned, and they will be expecting to find better quality. Their sights will be upwards," he explained.

Steven Harris, director of education at the Association of Business Executives, echoed these comments, concluding that qualifications can give a candidate the edge in a competitive jobs market.