Employment services

The basic mandate of Public Employment Services (PES) is to facilitate the adjustment of firms and workers to changing labour market conditions. PES are usually the primary government institution responsible for implementing a variety of active labour market programmes. In times of economic crisis, the fundamental employment services of registering individuals for unemployment insurance (where it exists) and providing job search assistance to unemployed workers is intensified. PES may also be tasked with delivering special programmes to assist displaced or retrenched workers, to support public works programmes or to work with enterprises to access training services or adopt public support for work sharing and other means of averting mass layoffs.

The ILO conducts assessments of national employment services which result in concrete recommendations to improve their capacity to deliver and monitor the impact of active labour market programmes. Given recent international trends in the growth of private employment agencies and the outsourcing of public services, the ILO also supports new ways for public and private agencies to work together.

The ILO’s focus in the area of employment services is to:

  • support the reform and modernization of public employment services
  • promote the appropriate regulation of private employment agencies
  • promote cooperation between public employment services and private employment agencies
In these efforts the ILO works in close partnership with the World Association of Public Employment Services (WAPES) and the International Confederation of Private Employment Agencies (CIETT).

What's new

  1. CD-ROM: Key Resources for Employment Services

    01 April 2011

    This CD-ROM is a compilation of core publications on Employment Services.  The publications have been grouped into five major areas: i) Public Employment Services (PES) and their role in a changing labour market; ii) PES responses to economic downturns and post-crisis situations; iii) Private Employment Agencies and their regulation, monitoring and enforcement; iv) Career Guidance; and v) Conventions and Recommendations.

  2. Public Employment Services Responses to the Global Economic Crisis

    10 November 2009

    This paper compiles information on the contributions of national public employment services in countries in every region to respond to the employment impact of the financial crisis and illustrates the important role these institutions serve in the labour market.

  3. A guide to worker displacement : some tools for reducing the impact on workers, communities and enterprises. Update March 2009

    01 March 2009

    The Guide presents possible strategies for averting layoffs and promoting business retention by communities, enterprise managements and workers’ associations. A discussion of early warning networks is also presented, stressing the importance of monitoring and rapid response mechanisms such as retraining to ensure worker adjustment and economic renewal.

Key resources

  1. Minute Guide for Young Jobseekers

    10 October 2007

    The minute guide is a felf-help resource written specifically for young jobseekers.  It is intended to support youth in making informed decisions about their career prospects and job options by providing user-friendly access to information about the job search process.

  2. Guiding Youth Careers: A handbook for those who help young jobseekers

    10 October 2007

    The handbook is designed to assist trained professionals, parents and peers in advising young jobseekers in their career and job search, particularly new graduates, school leavers and unemployed youth.

  3. Guide to Private Employment Agencies: Regulation, Monitoring and Enforcement

    01 May 2007

    This Guide provides guidance to national legislators in drafting legal frameworks in line with ILO Convention No. 181 and Recommendation No. 188. It is rich in many examples of country legislation from both developed and developing countries.

  4. Career guidance. A resource handbook for low- and middle-income countries

    04 April 2006

    This is an essential guide to developing effective career guidance systems, career information, organizing service delivery, staff development and improving governance and coordination.  In addition, it also provides the first detailed users guide to career guidance sites on the world wide web that will be invaluable to policy-makers and professionals looking for interviewing guides, vocational assessment tools, competency standards for counsellors, and much more.

  5. C181 Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997

    19 June 1997

    Convention concerning Private Employment Agencies
    (Note: Date of coming into force: 05/10/2000).

  6. C88 Employment Service Convention, 1948

    09 July 1948

    Convention concerning the Organisation of the Employment Service
    (Note: Date of coming into force: 08/10/1950).