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Change management in Public Employment Services Greg Ashmead presenting at WAPES World Congress

Change management in Public Employment Services

9th World Congress of the World Association of Public Employment Service (WAPES). An article by Miguel Peromingo, WAPES Secretariat

More than 50 representatives from public employment services across the globe gathered in Seoul in June 2012 to discuss change management and how it affects the delivery of employment services. WAPES members, together with international organizations and private partners, focused on how their services need to adjust to the changing world of work in order to better meet customer needs.

Discussions focused on five principal aspects of change management: 

  • Change will always be with us: it affects how we organize our structures, our people, and how we support our clients. In order to remain one step ahead, employment services need to remain focused on their core service offer. The trend globally sees jobseekers getting more individualized coaching and employers demanding a more reliable skills supply pipeline that matches their needs.
  • Value for money increasingly drives change management. How to get a “bigger bang for your buck” is becoming a more important criterion to assess the effectiveness of taxpayers’ investment in public services. In times of austerity this can result in straight-forward budget cuts.
  • During the financial crisis, a number of public employment services have proven their ability to deal with rising unemployment, increased vulnerability of (young) job-seekers, a global skills shortage and a shrinking budget. Exploiting good practice and devising evidence-based labour market strategies means that measuring cost-effectiveness is becoming a standard way to design new approaches for service delivery.
  • The way you manage information during a period of change matters: it requires adopting an end-to-end view of the jobseeker journey rather than splitting it into silos. Jobseekers undergoing a transition on the labour market need job advisors who understand their life situation as a whole in order to get the help that they need. Modern media play a crucial role in delivering comprehensive information ‘packages’ for jobseekers, particularly for young people. The use of social networks and the fact that more and more clients and public employment service staff are able and ready to acquire virtual competency and multi-tasking skills increases the speed of information flows and the need to quality-assure them.In many parts of the world, however, a lack of IT skills and infrastructure remains a very real challenge for jobseekers. Understanding the barriers that ‘IT exclusion’ creates for jobseekers is thus also an important consideration when managing information.
  • Successful change management needs to be measured properly rather than simply claiming that change in itself is successful. Questions like “what has improved?” need to be asked. Globally, public employment services are increasingly putting into place different evaluation systems to assess the impact of internal reorganization and effectiveness of services. The Seoul Congress called for a more flexible use of performance measurement that respects members’ diverse, sometimes even opposing, labour market measures rather than trying to standardize or abolish the range of different approaches.

In the latest WAPES members’ survey, 70% of respondents said that they plan major changes in their service delivery within the next two years. Over half of the 89 members have been doing so over the past two years, e.g. by intensifying the significance of public-private partnership in their policy mix.

The public employment services’ readiness to change and cooperate with other stakeholders seems to be stronger than ever. WAPES will showcase how public employment services are taking their share of responsibility in the modern world of work in a series of short articles. These will cover a number of important topics, including mobility of skills, technological development and long-term unemployment.

View a summary of the WAPES World Congress, including Ingeus’ presentation.


WAPES logo The trend globally sees jobseekers getting more individualized coaching and employers demanding a more reliable skills supply pipeline that matches their needs. ”