You are here

Innovation at the heart of concerns

03 September 2015

Public Employment Services, as with all public stakeholders, must evolve and modernise to overcome the major challenges they face in a world of employment that is undergoing deep changes.

In recent years, a huge shift in this direction has been organised. It mainly targets improving the quality of the service rendered to citizens and better managing public finances.

Against this backdrop, innovation management is one of the essential drivers for bringing about in-depth change within public employment services and for uniting public managers around a collective project that provides direction.

 "An innovative Public Employment Service"... This phrase has long resembled an oxymoron as the scope of intervention of public employment services could appear unchangeable and could often even seem to form an integral part of their identity.

However, these reforms are well under way and numerous public employment services are implementing genuinely innovative policies with a strategic focus based on the values of public service. This focus at the highest level is no doubt an important prerequisite, but it is far from the only one.

Indeed, encouraging innovative measures requires a suitable position to be adopted throughout the entire managerial team in order to promote this culture of innovation, to provide direction, to free-up the creative energy of colleagues and to implement ad hoc systems, whilst also accepting to take risks or to even see failures.

The challenge is particularly important for Public Employment Services as it is not merely a matter of technological innovations but also, and above all, one of organisational, social and methodological innovations.

PESs need to solve an equation that may seem paradoxical - they need to reduce public deficit whilst also developing the quality of services rendered.

Indeed, increased financial pressure is obliging public employment services to review their organisational and operational models whilst also reducing or redeploying their resources.

Furthermore, they have an obligation to improve the quality of the services rendered. This is a widely held notion, for several reasons.

The Public Employment Service is often not the only service playing a part in the services being provided to unemployed people and businesses. The landscape has become considerably more complex with, in particular, the arrival of private service providers who, with an eye towards conquering the market, are constantly striving to innovate (personalisation of the services offered, multiplication and diversification of the channels used to deliver services, etc.).

Both job-seekers are businesses are accustomed to these new standards and they expect, and often even demand, to obtain services of at least equal quality from public employment services.

This "emulation" between public and private can also be seen when discussing labour requirements with recruiters that have a significant level of requirements and can quickly become disinterested in the services offered by a PES, instead resorting to private agencies that, although they do generate costs, also provide services that are more adapted to their needs and with a greater degree of reactivity.

The innovation measures require a significant amount of consideration upstream, along with permanent monitoring of changes within society, developments under way and the evolving expectations of job-seekers and companies. They also require the creation of a genuine framework, including elements from management and processes, working as a whole to enable ideas to be transformed into operational realities.

To this end, numerous Directors General of Public Employment Services, governors, experts and decision-makers within companies from 23 different countries will meet in Dakar on 17 and 18 September to share their visions and their experiences on this matter or innovation, which appears now more than ever to be at the heart of concerns.

Christine Malecka-WAPES-2015