Labour ministries and labour administration in transition: recent developments and future prospects

This report is concerned with the organisation, resourcing and management of Labour Ministries and their role in national labour administration systems.

Labour Ministries typically bear substantial responsibility for the development and delivery of policies in respect of employment, labour markets and social protection. However, the specific functions of Labour Ministries and their status within central government are subject to a range of influences, several of which are discussed in this report. As the report shows, Labour Ministries have been affected by attempts by national governments to improve coordination between different policy areas and the introduction of reforms associated with the New Public Management. These developments have had implications for the organisation of Labour Ministries, the distribution of responsibilities across central government and service delivery. There have also been consequences for the management of Labour Ministries, as governments have sought ways to improve performance by, for example, linking resources to the achievement of targets. The report examines these developments and their consequences for policy coordination and for civil servants’ pay and training. The report also discusses the consequences of the recent economic crisis for Labour Ministries. Labour Ministries were at the forefront of efforts to address the employment and labour market dimensions of the crisis. However, in many countries austerity measures have reduced the resources that Labour Ministries have at their disposal. This report examines the consequences of spending cuts for the resourcing, management and operations of Labour Ministries. The report focuses on experiences in the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland and the UK. Its findings are informed by interviews conducted with government officials and representatives of trade unions and employer organisations.