Single Window and Co-location

As intermediation services expand both in the number of clients and the range of products available, effectiveness will center on their ability to deliver what seems to be a contradiction - more services to more people in an easier and more streamlined fashion. In a world of too many stops for too many services, labor intermediation services are combining to create service “centers” to both entice more clients through the door and create better links with services people need to support themselves and their families. Many OECD systems and localities have placed the job exchange function within a “one stop shop” concept - where a range of employment-related programs and often social services can be accessed in the same place (both virtual and physical). One stop shops in OECD countries have expanded well beyond labor market programs to include registration of new businesses, support to microenterprises, health services, and child care, for example.

The simplest first form, used often in the United States, is simply “colocation” - having available services in the same physical location. This is actually a model to consider for many developing countries. In the United States, co-location has its advantages with so many different national, state and local programs. In developing countries, it is often not easy to slay the bureaucratic dragons in the way of inducing diverse ministries to register and deliver services together; a first step could be getting these distinct ministries to see the advantages of co-habiting! Transportation costs are also a factor for the poor to access services; locating services together aids both ease of delivery and greater information on the range of services altogether. Co-location is particularly useful when applied to microenterprise services, as it often requires coordination of services outside the purview and expertise of either labor or social ministries. In a One Stop Shop in Northern Virginia, USA, a small business assistance center was located on a different floor. Employment counselors on the floor below merely referred those interested in self-employment to the center which had state and private financing and offered specialized business counselors, information on bank loans and credits, and technical assistance for micro and small businesses.42

A second form for developing countries in Stage 2 would be housing existing active policies (training and intermediation) and passive, unemployment insurance (if available) in a “single window.” The single window is a major step-up as it means one common registration form, and one central information window to learn about access to programs. In this way, job seekers can access in the same place information on job openings, training, and labor market trends, and access to their unemployment insurance or other employment protection programs. By consolidating registration and access, services can be better tailored to the needs of the individual (via case management) and bureaucratic inefficiencies can be reduced, so that the intermediation function is accomplished faster and with better outcomes for job seekers. Social programs increasingly link with labor market programs in single window reforms in developing countries. Peru, for example, has transitioned all its labor market programs under its ventanilla unica (single window in Spanish).

The United Kingdom called its consolidation “One,” terming it a “single work-focused gateway” bringing together employment services, the social benefits authority, and local government programs. The UK tested different models of the “One” service - a basic model, a call center variant, and a version delivered by private and NGO providers, finding that one model even of a one stop shop might not fit all regions.

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