How should Public Employment Services respond to coronavirus challenges?

The Pandemic World of Work

The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in much turmoil and insecurity around employment. Even people who previously enjoyed stable jobs have suddenly found themselves scrambling for work, especially in affected sectors like hospitality, retail, and travel. On the flip side, sectors like logistics, healthcare, and manufacturing seek to expand their workforce dramatically, offering new opportunities for jobseekers, but also new challenges for employers.

Under these unprecedented circumstances, traditional approaches to job matching fall short. In this blog, we outline three essentials for meeting the challenges of the volatile pandemic world of work

Public Employment Services & the COVID-19 Pandemic

Public Employment Services (PES) exist to facilitate the adjustment of employers and workers to changing labor market conditions, among other things through job brokerage. The current crisis embodies the biggest change in labor market conditions in decades. More than ever, PES must think outside the box in order to best serve the population in pandemic times and beyond.

According to the World Bank, less educated workers will be more affected than more educated workers. The suggested interventions are education/training and digital/technology, and continued investment in both. Of course, both time and money must be invested strategically and intelligently, as could be seen in the differences between countries’ overall approaches to COVID-19.

So, what’s the smart money on?

Domain knowledge is crucial for effective job matching

COVID-19 has fundamentally disrupted the world of work. Around the globe, lockdowns loom, become inevitable, and are lifted again. Without real-time labor market knowledge and statistics, it is almost impossible to respond adequately to these extraordinary fluctuations in labor demand and supply.

Of course, it has always been the case that forward-thinking PES used big data and knowledge management to stay on top of labor market changes. But in the pandemic world of work, it has become more important than ever, because market fluctuations take different and more unpredictable turns. As labor demand crashes in some sectors and blows up in others, better insights and more unorthodox measures than usual are required. PES software must not only support these, but actively show the way, using:

  • Real-time information.
    Because fluctuations are fast and unpredictable, it is essential to have the latest information in the system, for management and policy makers as well as for the job counsellors in the field.
  • Smart labor market knowledge management.
    Because there is much more data available than can be usefully processed under time constraints, PES need software-supported strategies to separate the wheat from the chaff. This will leave only the key insights to be acted on right away.

PES can identify new opportunities to influence the labor market by combining and leveraging the latest labor market data and taxonomy-based domain knowledge.

Match on the full profile, not just the job title

In the pandemic world of work, people will more frequently need to seek new lines of work, retrain, and change professions entirely. In these cases, job matching on function title or previous experience alone is not effective at all.

However, job matching can be much more than simply comparing vacancy title to jobseeker title. Advanced software can mine the whole jobseeker profile to find matches based on (soft) skills, education, previous experience, and more. For jobseekers, advanced matching can be based on ambitions and labor conditions such as location and salary.

Using taxonomies such as ESCO and O*NET, it is even possible to identify skills jobseekers may not have specified but which they likely have. This creates new paths to finding suitable jobs (for jobseekers) and suitable employees (for employers) that they would otherwise be unable to find.

When demand and supply cut across industries and sectors, matching on job title alone is not an effective strategy.

Gap Analysis: Lighting new paths to jobs

Gap Analysis is a way to shed light on the distance between a jobseeker and the jobs that are potentially available to them. To calculate this distance or gap, we assess the jobseeker’s skill set, ambitions, and profile, and compare these to the vacancies that may be within their reach.

Gap Analysis

In recent years, Gap Analysis has already gained traction among forward-thinking PES as a way to mitigate labor market threats. After all, knowing where the gaps are is the first step towards being able to close them.

Some examples of how PES might use Gap Analysis include:

  • to analyze problem areas or lacunas in a jobseeker’s resume and identify remedial measures
  • to identify which training a worker needs to complete to enter a new profession for which they already meet most other criteria
  • to determine where and how to redirect workers from low-demand professions and disappearing sectors

In the pandemic world of work, however, we’re no longer talking individual ambitions or even sunsetting professions, but dramatic changes of supply and demand in entire industries. In other words, Gap Analysis could take on a more instrumental role, because many more people than usual will need it to enter new professions or sectors.

And the more advanced the Gap Analysis, the more surprising and versatile the results. This may entail analysis based on taxonomies such as ESCO and O*NET, analysis of soft skills, and comparative analyses of regions.

A smart combination of Gap Analysis with continuously updated labor market data as well as existing taxonomies and domain knowledge could carve a path leading out of the COVID-19 employment crisis.

Click here to read more about Gap Analysis for labor market management.


More information

Countries need to do everything they can to stop the COVID-19 pandemic from causing a long-term social crisis. Creating a better and more resilient labor market is an essential investment in their future economy. We believe that our software solutions can enable a significant improvement in Public Employment Services, helping them to meet their goals.

If you would like more information about WCC’s software solutions, please get in touch. Our sales team and consultants are ready to help – wherever you are in the world.

Article by: WCC Community
Published on: December 3, 2020

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