Labour market services for transitions

Diverse forces, ranging from demographic changes, rapid technological advances, climate change, globalization, changing trade patterns, etc., compounded by crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, are transforming the world of work in ways that push workers to face multiple and often-difficult labour market transitions over their life course.

The ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work calls upon the Member States to take “effective measures to support people through the transitions they will face throughout their working lives”. To ensure better and just transitions for workers and enterprises, including in the informal economy, proactive and targeted labour market programmes (LMPs) and strengthened employment services (ES) are indispensable.

In the aftermath of COVID-19, targeted labour market programmes and broader access to responsive employment services are critical to preparing workers, jobseekers and employers for the economic recovery. Inclusive and gender-sensitive approaches can accelerate the recovery and encourage labour market participation of those who face obstacles.

A solid understanding of labour market transition patterns and of people’s aspirations at and over the various transition stages is essential to conceive and provide responsive and effective labour market services. Therefore, EMPLAB attaches strategic importance at enhancing global knowledge of such patterns for informed and timely policymaking, particularly in emerging and developing countries.

EMPLAB’s research and knowledge development on labour market transitions covers a range of inter-related subjects including:
  • quantity and quality of transitions over the life course, and the role of future of work challenges in impacting the nature of transitions;
  • youth-specific research and innovative data collection and analysis tools covering such diverse topics as youth aspirations, regional transition indicators, volunteer work and youth work experience, etc.; and, 
  • main drivers of transitions and their impact on individuals and groups at different stages of the life cycle course. These drivers may include rapid technology change and ageing as well as individual desires to meet their life course aspirations such as education, re- or up-skilling, parenting, or work and life balance.
Research findings are used to strengthen national capacities to design of relevant packages of labour market services suitable for different stages of transitions.

With regard to Active Labour Market Policies (ALMPs) and Employment Services (ES), EMPLAB supports national capacity to effectively and coherently design and deploy employment services, and ALMPs and employability related social assistance programmes that enhance employability and facilitate job matching and placement for smooth labour market transitions. It targets especially the youth and older workers, including disadvantaged groups such as the disabled, migrants and forcibly displaced persons.

Within the areas of ALMPs and ES, the focus is on:
  • Promoting modernisation of employment services through the development of technology-based services and delivery channels such as online job portals;
  • Reinforcing the institutional capacity to design and offer customer-oriented and integrated employment services to employers as well as jobseekers;
  • Fostering collaboration and partnership among public, private and third sector ES providers;
  • Supporting the design, implementation and evaluation of active labour market programmes and the coordination of public employment programmes, preferably as an integrated package;
  • Contributing to the development and implementation of integrated delivery of measures to build resilience, protect jobs and incomes, promote employability and faster labour market reintegration, in particular in the context of the COVID-19 like crisis.

Products and Services

The main products and services for the Labour Market Services for Transitions work area are grouped into knowledge development and dissemination, guidance and training tools as well as country advisory services and support. Examples include:
  • Knowledge products (briefs, technical notes, and thematic research papers on various topics):
- COVID-19 response: COVID-19: Public employment services and labour market policy responses
- Trends in employment services: Key developments, role and organisation of Public Employment Services in Great Britain, Belgium-Flanders and Germany
- Partnerships in delivery of services: Partnerships and contractors in the delivery of employment services and ALMPs: a literature review
  • Guidance and training tools :
  • Advisory services provided to member states to strengthen their capacity in the design, delivery and evaluation of labour market services:
- Institutional and human resource capacity building for PES (Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Malawi, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Albania, Uzbeskitan, etc.)
- Integrating technology in the design and delivery of services (Jordan, Namibia, Paraguay)
- Strengthening design and delivery of customer-centred services (Albania, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Quito Protocol, Suriname, Tunisia)


  • EMPLAB collaborates with the UN, other development agencies and donor countries to achieve synergy in resource mobilisation for development cooperation and implementation of demonstration programmes in targeted countries. Examples include:
- ILO/Korea Partnership: Strengthening Public Employment Services in English Speaking Africa (2018-2020)
- Partnerships with the French (Pôle emploi) and Republic of Korea governments through staff detachment