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Our history

In 2013 WAPES celebrated its 25 years anniversary. WAPES was founded the 18th October 1988, at the ILO in Geneva, with the purpose of opening an informal platform to the exchange of good practices in the field of employment services.

While the Executive Secretariat of WAPES was linked to the ILO headquarters at the beginning, it soon became an office with its own resources. The Executive Secretariat has been situated in Vienna and Paris and is since 2003 based in Brussels in the premises of VDAB, the Flemish Public Employment Service. The resources and the staff of the Secretariat come from generous contributions from different Public Employment Services.

The number of members has been constantly growing and today WAPES is an influential organisation in the different world regions, representing the expertise of over 1 million staff and working with powerful international organisations.


Some important dates:


WAPES Presidencies

1989-1998         Canada    Mr Lionel Lindsey-Dixon

1998-1999         Tunisia     Mr Hédi Mamou

1999-2002         Norway    Mr Ted Hanisch, Mr Blaalid, Mr Lars Wilhelmsen, Ms Inger Johanne Stokke and Mr Per Engebretsen

2003-2006         Sweden    Mr Anders L Johansson and Mr Bo Bylund

2006-2012         France      Mr Christian Charpy and Mr Jean Bassère

2012-present   Sweden    Ms Angeles Bermudez-Svankvist and Ms Elisabet Arp


WAPES Executive Secretaries

1989-1995         ILO              Mr Lukas Wagt

1995-1997         Austria       Mr Franz Gundacker

1998-1999         France       Mr François Ducloux

2000-2003         France       Mr Jean Duronsoy

2004-2011         Belgium    Mr Patrick Venier

2011-present   Belgium    Ms Lenka Kint


World Congresses and General Assemblies

1992   Niort, France, Public Employment Services and the Private Sector

1995   Stratford-Upon-Avon, Great Britain, Pressures for Change

1997   Nuremberg, Germany, Globalization, Migration & Labour Market

1999   Merida, Mexico, Vision, strategy and management of Public Employment Services by the new millennium

2001   Bergen, Norway, PES at the crossroad: public active strategies for PES to meet new market demands

2003   Marrakech, Morocco, Promote Employment – fight unemployment through building new relations between the PES and social partners

2006   Quebec, Canada, Performance of PES in the 21st century

2009   Dubrovnik, Croatia, The crisis response of PES: Operational initiatives towards sustainable recovery

2012   Seoul, Republic of Korea, Public Employment Services and change management