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Our history

With the purpose of opening an informal platform to the exchange of good practices in the field of employment services, WAPES was founded the 18 of October 1988 by the public employment services of Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the USA, together with the International Labour Organisation, ILO. ILO remains an observer to the organisation.

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

2012-2015        Sweden    Ms Angeles Bermudez-Svankvist and Ms Elisabet Arp

2015-2018        Turkey   Mr Nusret Yazici - Mr Mehmet Ali Ozkan - Mr Ismet Köksal - Mr Cafer Uzunkaya

2018-2021        Morocco Mr Nourredine BENKHALIL

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

2011-2017     Belgium    Ms Lenka Kint

2017-present  Belgium  Ms Françoise Kuyl


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

2015  Istanbul, Turkey, PES and the New World of Work

2018  Marrakesh, Morocco, Public Employment Services in the Context of Sustainable Development and the Digital Age