The government's spending cuts create recruitment problems for public sector organisations as people "shy away" from the sector, a new report warns.
The image of public sector employment is being hit, particularly at senior level, a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)claims.
The survey of more than 500 employers found that four out of five reported difficulties in filling vacancies over the past few months.
The biggest increase in recruitment and retention problems was in the public sector, especially at managerial and senior levels.
Recruitment of managers and senior level staff within the public sector is a particular problem.
Thirty-eight per cent of public sector organisations surveyed reported that it was especially hard to fill vacancies at manager and specialist levels and a further 19 per cent reported problems with finding candidates for senior manager and director level roles.
Pay freezes coupled with a perceived reduction in benefits as a consequence of pension reforms may be responsible, as 43 per cent of public sector employers cited pay as one of the reasons for their difficulties.
Pay freezes coupled with a perceived reduction in benefits following the government's controversial reforms may be responsible, said the report.
The public sector is three times more likely than private firms to report that its image is a problem in terms of attracting new recruits.
Rebecca Clake of the CIPD said: "Headlines focus on high levels of unemployment and public sector cutbacks, but those stark statistics mask an ongoing struggle for employers to find the skills and experience they need to drive their organisations forward.
"This is a particular issue in the public sector where, now more than ever, they require talented and experienced individuals at senior levels of the organisation to help steer them through times of change.
"The image of the public sector is putting off some new recruits.
"This, coupled with widespread pay freezes and pension reform, makes jobs in public sector organisations less and less appealing to those individuals who have the skills required for the vacancies."