Employment services

Employment services promote an efficient development, integration and use of the labour force. Due to the challenges of today’s labour markets, they are grappling with an ever more complex range of issues—from chronic unemployment or under employment to demographic shifts and the impact of digital and technological evolution.

Public employment services are one of the major conduits for implementing employment and labour market policies. Now, more than ever, stronger employment services play an increasingly important role in job matching, enhancing employability, addressing skill mismatches and linking support directly to employers and workers through operating various active labour market programmes.

The emergence of private employment services, where appropriately regulated, offers opportunities for cooperation in service delivery and to increase outreach to diverse groups in the labour market. Collaboration is also established with not-for profit and non-governmental institutions to expand coverage and provide additional services to specific target groups.

The ILO Employment Policy Department offers support to its constituents to:
  • Modernize national employment services and adapt provision to the different phases of the economic cycle
  • Improve responsiveness of national employment services to serve jobseekers and employers with different needs
  • Implement effective labour market programmes adapted to the specific characteristics of regional and local labour markets
  • Promote appropriate regulation and bolster cooperation between public employment services and private employment agencies

What's new

  1. COVID-19: Public employment services and labour market policy responses

    17 August 2020

    Employment services and labour market policies are key to bridging from immediate measures to a job-rich recovery.

  2. Good practices in using partnerships for the delivery of employment services in China

    9 April 2018

    This paper was prepared by the ILO as part of a global study to look at the emergence of partnerships between public employment services and other providers seeking to promote access to employment.

  3. Note on the public employment service of Mexico

    19 February 2018

    The Mexican PES has evolved substantially throughout its 37 years of operation, making significant advances in coverage, quality and adequacy of services delivered. At present, its services are available nationwide and range from job-matching, counselling and placement to active labour market programmes for training, self-employment, labour mobility and the prevention of job losses.

  4. The Public Employment Service in the Republic of Korea

    22 February 2016

    This paper examines the legal framework, organizational structure and functions of the public employment service in Korea, with a particular emphasis on the Job Centre.

  5. The role of employment service providers: Guide to anticipating and matching skills and jobs Vol. 4

    26 January 2016

    This guide provides in-depth consideration of the role of employment service providers (public and private) in anticipation and matching.

  6. Notes on public employment services in selected countries

    18 November 2015

    This collection of notes about public employment services (PES) provides an overview of the main trends and innovations promoted by selected countries to help jobseekers find and retain a job and employers recruit workers who meet their business needs. There are increasing examples showing that linking people with better job opportunities is a twin-track strategy that requires the delivery of core employment services in combination with employability development programmes.

  7. Workshop

    What works on employment services for youth and why?

    25-26 September 2014

    Area of critical importance Jobs and Skills for youth knowledge-sharing workshop

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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).