Labour Market Services and Policies for Transitions

Labour market services, comprising employment services, active labour market policies and activation measures, are more crucial than ever in addressing and supporting transitions in the rapidly changing world of work, currently made more complex by the Covid-19 pandemic and crisis. Employment services (public and private) accompany jobseekers and provide services to employers to ensure the best match between skills and jobs. The basic mandate of Public Employment Services (PES) is to facilitate the adjustment of firms and workers to changing labour market conditions. PES are usually the primary government institution responsible for implementing a variety of active labour market programmes including the provision of career guidance and labour intermediation services. Specifically, the functions of PES include:
  • collecting, analyzing and disseminating labour market information;
  • assisting with job search and providing placement services;
  • managing effectively a variety of labour market programmes; and
  • administering unemployment insurance benefits.
The ILO conducts assessments of national employment services and supports national capacity to effectively and coherently design and deploy labour market services that can enhance employability, and facilitate job matching and placement for smooth labour market transitions, especially for the youth and older workers, and particularly vulnerable groups such as the disabled, migrants and forcibly displaced persons.

In the context of fragile situations and forcibly displaced persons, PROSPECTS will provide support and guidance to the eight countries in strengthening their public employment services in collaboration with private employment service providers to support labour market integration and decent work for host communities and forcibly displaced persons.

Employment Intensive Investment Programmes

The Employment-Intensive Investment Program (EIIP) supports countries in the design, formulation, implementation and evaluation of policies and programmes aiming to address unemployment and underemployment through public investment, typically in infrastructure development and environmental works.
EIIP promotes the application of employment-intensive and local resource-based approaches in the production of public assets in diverse sectors including roads, soil and water conservation and resource management, natural resource management and environment conservation. The approach entails the application of a well-designed system optimizing local resources, technology and management processes to produce or maintain public assets to the required technical standards, cost efficiently and effectively to meet desired objectives, while generating local employment directly and stimulating the local economy. Central to the effective application of the approach is the development technical skills and management capacity of the public and private sector, as well as capacity of skilled and unskilled workers.

In the fragile contexts where PROSPECTS operates, it is indispensable to create immediate employment for both skilled and unskilled workers, particularly youth and women, to respond to the rapid increase of refugee arrivals, mitigate socioeconomic instability, perceived injustice and inequality between host communities and refugees, and encourage them to contribute to local economic development and peace. EIIP promotes social cohesion between refugees and their host communities by way of creating equal employment opportunities, developing technical and occupational skills for all, and using local resources as key to improving self-reliance and social stability of affected populations.

Youth employment

Fragility exacerbates the severity of the challenge of youth employment, both in terms of availability and quality of jobs. In fragile settings, young people (already disproportionally affected by unemployment globally) experience growing labour market inequalities, their transitions from school to work are longer and more uncertain and they become increasingly detached from the labour market. They may be pushed to engage in jobs that are informal, unstable, underpaid or even high-risk and harmful –just for the daily survival. They are much more at risk of dropping out of school or college, in order to find work, driven by a sense of hopelessness, or anxiety about their own well-being.

Youth unemployment, decent work deficits, fragility and migration are closely interlinked. While fragility – in particular low security – exacerbates unemployment, joblessness and low quality jobs can also intensify fragility. Where economic livelihoods and employment opportunities are lacking, young people can be targeted by the recruitment strategies of extremist groups, organized crime, gang associations, or piracy.

Employment has the potential to build peace and foster the self-reliance of refugees in hosting communities. It can contribute to peace by:
  • creating constructive contact between groups, thus overturning common stereotypes and improving inter-group knowledge and perceptions;
  • addressing grievances and perceptions of unfair treatment and inequality; and
  • fostering skills and economic opportunities, which in turn reduces incentives for engaging in adverse behaviour and provides reasons to refrain from embarking on irregular migration.
We promote youth employment with:
  • Vocational and entrepreneurship skills training: following a market-based, demand-driven approach, that is built on a comprehensive labour market analysis benefiting from the participation of employers, workers and other local stakeholders;
  • Access to capital, such as cash transfers, in-kind capital and subsidized credit
  • Labour-based programmes, such as EIIP and cash-for-work schemes;
  • Integrated strategies to combine multiple programme components.
Our innovative approaches to foster youth employment include:
  • New technologies as a means to extend skills training to hard-to-reach youth (digital resources, mobile training);
  • Multi-stakeholder approaches to connect youth with the private sector;
  • The Graduation Approach, which is a comprehensive strategy targeting the most vulnerable and assisting them through a range of interventions.

By investing in youth employment, PROSPECTS aims to boost the labour market outcomes of the most vulnerable young people, including young women and disabled young people, who are most at risk of being excluded from development gains.