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Public Employment Services

Rethinking public employment services for the digital era

Miguel Peromingo's picture
Digital channels now open more possibilities, improving matching job seekers’ skills and experience with jobs vacancies.  Photo: Gerhard Jörén / World Bank

The discussion around digitization is usually focused on how automation will affect jobs, disregarding how the changing world of work is also transforming the labor markets for the better. Although automation will change many jobs —up to 46% of jobs in developed countries according to a recent OECD report are highly automatable or likely to experience significant changes due to automation— it also holds several opportunities for employment intermediation. Job seekers can take new digital avenues to labor market inclusion, while employment services can also support workers with new ways of finding jobs. Three international experiences show how some countries are utilizing these opportunities.

Reforming Employment Services: Three Steps to Big Change

Jacqueline Mazza's picture
Increasing the number of jobs publicly listed, enabling public and private institutions to better connect workers to jobs will not likely solve the jobs problem in developing countries. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst / WorldBank)


With the right kind of reforms, public employment services can do a better job of matching job seekers from poor households. In low and middle-income countries, individuals from poor households find jobs through informal contacts; for example asking friends and family and other members of their limited network. But this type of informal job search tends to channel high concentrations of the poor individuals into informal, low-paid work.

Job seekers especially from poor households need bigger, more formal networks to go beyond the limited opportunities offered by the informal sector in their local communities. This is where public employment services can help, but in developing countries many of these services just simply do not work well: they suffer from limited financing and poor connections to employers, and governments are looking for ways to reform and modernize them to today’s job challenges.

There are lots of cases where developing countries have improved their public employment services and these can serve as models. The lessons from these successful reforms can be distilled and replicated. Based on our recent publication, here are three case-tested strategies that improved the performance, relevance and image of public employment services.