Importance of cooperation between PES and employers in improving the labour markets of CPESSEC member countries
Labour market is the place where labour supply and demand meet and actors responsible for the matching of the two sides are public employment services. Labour market actors want that demand for workers with certain occupations is met in shortest time possible, but this requires clearly expressed employers’ needs that are consolidated by public employment services and communicated to the education system. The success rate of this process is the major factor in shaping the labour market, economic growth, productivity and competitiveness, and any interruption in the communication among the actors leads to labour market imbalances. Unfortunately, we are witnessing that the ideal labour market does not exist and the most commonly mentioned reasons behind that are following:
-not explicitly expressed employers’ needs to which PES and the education system should respond;
-education system is not responsive to employers’ needs because it continues to produce the labour pool with obsolete qualifications, knowledge and skills not needed in the labour market.
If this imbalance persists, the problem becomes increasingly complex: unemployment grows, costs in the economy increase, the number of new job openings drops, contributions collected by the state shrink etc. Although PES are not directly responsible for labour market problems, they are responsible for finding appropriate solutions.
Communication and cooperation with employers is imperative because, in this way, PES obtain the necessary information which is the basis for the design of labour market policies and measures. Communication takes place in the conventional way, but it is very important how often and how well it is carried out. Through their contacts with employers, PES representatives should build a partnership relation as the basis for improved situation in the local, regional and national labour markets.
To meet employers’ expectations, PES must have employees who are “able” to communicate with employers of the new age, train those employers unable to express their needs in view of the number and the quality of workers needed and “win over” the employers reluctant to cooperate with PES. In that regard, PES employees need continuous learning so as to able to respond to the challenges of cooperation with employers.
In the Managerial Conference of the Centre of Public Employment Services of Southeast European Countries (CPESSEC) held in Sarajevo, CPESSEC representative discussed “Affirmative Measures and Programmes Targeting Employers”. The general conclusion is that the situation in the labour markets of CPESSEC member countries has improved in comparison to the year before which is primarily reflected in shrinking unemployment. All member PES have recognized that this improvement was also the result of improved cooperation with employers. This is why particular weight will be given to these activities in the future, both from the quantitative and the qualitative perspective.
In addition to financial measures that are broadly similar in all CPESSEC member countries, member PES take different measures and activities towards establishing cooperation with employers, depending on the labour market situation and the working conditions in PES. Bosnia and Herzegovina plans to develop a strategy for cooperation with employers and create an employer database. Bulgaria has implemented a pilot project in eight regions to improve the services for employers (four new measures, five improved services) which resulted in a decrease of unemployment rate, reduced number of terminated employment contracts, increased employment of persons with primary education, an increased number of employers cooperating with PES, a decrease in long-term unemployment in these regions and an increase in direct investment. In Croatia, a significant number of persons from vulnerable groups (youth, people above the age of 50 and returnees) were included in the labour market and employed. Hungary is currently implementing a project that aims to integrate unemployed people in the labour market which so far resulted in the inclusion of 42 000 persons (out of 77 000 planned) who were not willing or not able to work so far.
Montenegro has defined strategic objectives in PES’ work with employers: to increase the number of job placement requests, provide adequate staff, enhance employability through ALMP measures and strengthen partnerships with employers. In some local employment offices, Romania has set up teams for communication with employers that have been instrumental in a more successful job placement, increased number of employers cooperating with PES, better control of concluded employment contracts, organisation of vocational training in employers’ premises and provision of free assistance in the assessment and certification of workers’ competencies. Serbia has improved cooperation with local self-government units through organisation of job fairs aiming to promote cooperation with employers (about 7,200 new employers, mostly SMEs that will cooperate with PES in the future, have been registered at about 155 fairs). Slovenian PES has 12 offices where employers can obtain all necessary information and services and the Central Office for employers is responsible for development and standardisation of services. Segmentation of employers and the Standards in service provision to employers were adopted earlier, followed by definition of the Notification and announcement of job vacancies. Turkish PES continues to provide a wide range of financial incentives to employers as the most efficient way for achieving positive effects in employment of different target groups in the labour market.
CPESSEC member PES all agree that they should further improve their cooperation with employers. It is necessary to adopt strategies and action plans on the basis of conducted analyses of labour market situation and needs. Continuous education of its employees is imperative for PES if they want to be able to respond successfully to the requirements of a good cooperation with employers in different segments and thus create strong partnership relations with them.
Sanela Zeljković/ Labor and Employment Agency, Sarajevo, Bosnie-Herzégovine