Information and Program Administration Services

The second and third types of services complement and support the core mission of job placement of an employment service, now an emerging labor intermediation service. They are not, though, an indirect way to expand job listings or placements as we can argue that “intermediation plus” services do.

Information services provide data and information on trends related to choosing or advancing in jobs. The most central and first established information system is a labor market information system or labor market “observatory.” It is hard to provide good job counseling if you don’t know where the local economy is going, or hard to recommend to a job seeker they undergo training if you don’t have the information base on where employment is growing and which institutions’ graduates get jobs. A labor market information system requires a level of systematic labor market information (e.g. annual, quarterly labor market surveys) as well as an institutional investment to keep it continually relevant. The evolution and use of labor market information systems is a featured element in the second stage of labor intermediation services (Chap. 4).

Program Administration-Coordination. Labor intermediation services in their more advanced stages also administer or have on site in their offices a host of other social, labor, and economic services. In most of the advanced countries some form of employment service began together with an unemployment insurance (UI) program. The link was explicit in some European countries - the unemployed needed to walk into a public employment service and demonstrate they were looking for work to pick up their checks. Only an employment service would have the records and the capability to document a UI recipient’s efforts at job search. In Switzerland, a UI recipient must see an employment counselor at the local PES and receive job referrals or demonstrate specifically which firms he/she has solicited a job from. Administration or links with unemployment insurance or other social-economic programs is still a core function of most developed countries’ public employment services, even if some, like the United States, have long ago lost an effective job search requirement for UI. Unemployment insurance is a rare luxury in the low-income developing world, although more systems are found in middle-income developing countries, including in Eastern Europe, North Africa, Turkey, the Southern Cone of Latin America, and the Caribbean. The fundamental consideration for developing countries in utilizing public employment services for UI administration or coordination via enforcement of a work search requirement or verification of residency (e.g. that the UI recipient hasn’t migrated out of the country) is one of sequencing and labor market realities. If core employment services are not yet developed enough to serve the incoming unemployed, then requiring additional bureaucratic hoops to be jumped through to prove work search cripples both the PES, and the motivation/time of the UI recipient.

Beyond unemployment insurance, more and more countries - including many developing countries - are moving towards consolidating a number of social/economic services in the same center or location as the labor intermediation service. Typically these are government services or nonprofit-run services; social services such as income support to the poor or aid to single mothers; and, of particular relevance to developing countries, business services such as the range of services to register, start, and support a small business. Developing countries which have pioneered social assistance in the form of conditional and non-conditional cash transfers are also now pioneering new forms of integrating or linking social assistance and employment support, as discussed in the final chapter. The principles are similar to those of other administration or co-location programs, to link incentives between social assistance and exiting social assistance to employment, or to aid a range of non-employment barriers to work. This new thinking is creating even wider forms of intermediation services which represent a brighter future for the developing world (Chap. 5).

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