The Public Sector refers to any organisation that is owned by the government, for example, the National Health Service, The Armed Forces, Civil Service and the Emergency Services. It also includes government agencies such as the National Audit Office, local government and the BBC.
Most graduate jobs that can be found in the private sector are also available in the public sector. For example you can be a Graduate Accountant within the NHS, a Graduate Engineer in any of the armed services and all Public Sector organisations require graduates in support functions such as Human Resources and Marketing.
According to the Office for National Statistics (another government agency) around 20% (1 in 5) people are employed in the Public Sector in the UK, so there are plenty of graduate jobs to choose from!
Organisations in this sector are at least partly funded using public money, for example taxation, although they may raise funds in other ways, such as via the licence fee for the BBC or from charitable donations.
You may be surprised to read that figures produced by the Office for National Statistics in April 2009 show that average weekly salaries in the Public Sector (£539) are higher then those in the private sector (£465), and the gap between them is growing as Public Sector workers demand pay increases in line with or above inflation while many private sector workers have had any increase at all.
The perception of working in the Public Sector is varied; some people see it as a well paid career, with good benefits, work/life balance and security. Others see the sector as slow moving, reactive and overly bureaucratic. For some people it will be a good fit for their lifestyles, for others it may be frustrating and reduce creativity and entrepreneurialism.