Public Employment Services and the Future of Work – What innovations are likely to remain after COVID-19 pandemic?

On 14 September 2021, the International Labour Organization (ILO) organized a training webinar for senior managers and staff of the employment centers in the North-West and Ural Federal regions, Russian Federation. The webinar was devoted to the international experience of reforming Public Employment Services. This was the second in a series of webinars within the framework of the large-scale retraining programme, launched this year by Rostrud.

News | 14 September 2021
The webinar programme was built around the 2021 ILO flagship publication “The Public Employment Services and the Future of Work”. A training manual prepared for the CIS regional network for youth employment.

The Public Employment Services are cornerstone institutions to provide tailored support and cushion effects of unemployment spells in the times of economic downturns; as it happened during the COVID-19 employment crisis. Invited experts from Slovenia and Austria spoke about their country experiences on reforming and revamping the roleof the national public employment services. They shared  practical experience on the change the employment services delivery model in their countries, including the digitalization and the institutional reorganization of employment services.

Nina Pozderec from the Public Employment Service of Slovenia, highlighted the challenge of adjusting services, reallocating staff and multiplying the channels for delivering services. These channels include: providing information via phone, call-centers, e-mail, ESS web page, online portals or via post office. Simultaneously PES developed  new self-service tools and multiplied the modalities for labour counselling. “Our services are digitalized, but not completely, and personal identification is still needed for those who registered online. Our staff was partly re-allocated to other tasks such as providing information via Contact Centres. The staff had to adjust quickly to the new work conditions, digital services and teleworking”, she said.

What innovations are likely to remain? According to Nina Pozcerec, these are online workshops for jobseekers, online registration and electronic unemployment insurance claims. However, face-to-face counselling is now on the rise again. For employers services like online job vacancies presentations, speed dating and online job interviews will stay.

According to Julian Hiebl, from the Public Employment Service of Austria, the  pandemic has affected particularly young people and women because women  are predominant in the  hard-hit sectors like catering, tourism and retail, At the same time, women carry an increased burden on child care and home-schooling obligations. As part of the response package, Austria allocated more funds on boosting women employment and reinforced programmes encouraging their return to  professional life – especially after maternal leave.

As far as  youth labour market is concerned, Austrian PES is reinforcing apprenticeship programme and the intense skills worker qualification opportunities. To support  school-to-work transition, students are regularly invited to visit career information centers and to take professional orientation tests.

The event was conducted within the project “Partnerships for Youth Employment in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)”, Phase II, a public-private cooperation initiative between the ILO and a Russian company LUKOIL.