Digital Solutions for Employment Services
Employment services constitute a core element in the integrated approach to employment promotion. They fulfil an essential role by providing an effective link between the demand and supply of labour. This can encompass services that offer professional orientation, prepare target groups for entry to the labour market and match job seekers and job offers. However, it is not always guaranteed that the most relevant target groups will use employment services. This is particularly true for services that are provided offline in areas that are not accessible to specific target groups, or services that are not presented in an attractive and solution-oriented way. Large sections of the (future) labour force lack guidance when making training and career choices and a considerable skills mismatch can therefore be observed. At the same time, the predicted structural changes in the labour market with respect to increased digitisation have not yet fully been reflected in the design of employment services. Digital solutions for employment services can help to broaden access to these services provided that they are offered in an attractive way and aimed specifically at their respective target group while also reflecting our increased digitisation. Ultimately, digital employment services contribute to establishing a better link between demand and supply in a constantly changing labour market marked by persistently high unemployment rates, particularly among the youth.
The development and implementation of digital solutions for employment services require the involvement of a broad range of stakeholders, including institutions that provide employment services:
- Public employment agencies are very interested in providing employment services that ensure outreach to their target groups and are attractive to these groups.
- Schools are increasingly considered important players in providing professional guidance, and digital elements are of particular importance to the target group of school students.
- Educational institutions, such as vocational education and training (VET) schools and universities, also play a critical role in providing professional guidance, by supporting their future graduates to find the right jobs or advanced training opportunities.
- Business associations can offer digital employment services as part of their service portfolio for their member companies.
- Private service providers are typically spearheading technological development and offer the most innovative digital solutions.
- Likewise, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) can provide a broad range of employment services and these typically address vulnerable groups.
- The above-mentioned players can also form multi-stakeholder networks (such as ‘employment councils’) that aim to provide harmonised employment services in a specific region or sector.
The digital element requires the involvement of additional stakeholders, such as:
- IT service providers, who are essential for the development, testing and implementation of digital solutions.
- IT think tanks, which should be involved in the preparation stage. These can be student IT labs or innovation hubs where brainstorming on innovative and out-of-the-box solutions and
approaches can be pursued.
Digital employment services address the following target groups:
- school students with an interest in exploring various career paths and their parents;
- graduates with an interest in finding a job or in further training opportunities;
- job seekers and those re-entering the labour market who need guidance;
- companies providing job opportunities.
Less can be more: effective digital tools do not necessarily need to encompass a comprehensive scope, target groups or approaches. In some cases, they can be even more effective if a seemingly ‘small’ but concise idea is transformed into a digital tool.
Outreach to target groups can be the primary objective of a digital solution: digital tools do not necessarily need to cover the entire spectrum of professional guidance and career counselling, but can be designed as a means to reach specific target groups, to then guide this group to other (non-digital or digital) employment service tools and instruments.
Digital solutions for employment services cannot fully replace personal counselling and support: it is important clearly to define the needs, capabilities and circumstances of the respective target groups for specific employment services, and to identify which processes can or cannot be supported by digital tools.
Meeting an intrinsic need is key to building effective digital tools: the most effective tools (in terms of high demand from target groups and high access rates) are those that meet the user’s interests; have a clear and urgent demand and are not provided by other similar tools.
Duly reflect recent labour market trends and information: when developing the concept for digital employment services, it is crucial to understand recent and predicted trends in the labour market.
Smart marketing of digital tools is at least as important as the quality of the content/technological functions: experience shows that digital tools that have developed and implemented marketing concepts that were in line with the identified needs of the users and target groups show higher access rates.
Avoid duplication and fragmentation and seek synergies: digital tools are becoming popular and employment stakeholders are increasingly opting for these solutions. When considering the development of digital employment services, it is highly recommended to map similar or complementary initiatives.