OECD report on innovative approaches to unemployment

The recently published OECD report ‘Tackling long-term unemployment amongst vulnerable groups’ aims to identify effective measures to bring the long-term unemployed back to work. The report is based on the findings of a survey undertaken jointly by the OECD Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Programme and the World Association of Public Employment Services in 2012. It also presents innovative approaches to unemployment from around the world. The analysis of case-studies identifies success factors of labour market integration and gives a number of recommendations on how to design services on a local level to support the long-term unemployed.

The first part of the report presents the key findings of a survey aimed at local employment services. The respondents replied according to the following criteria:

  • Targeting: most of the respondents target the needs of certain groups, rather than spatial targeting.

  • Flexibility: many respondents have the flexibility to provide locally adapted labour market programmes to help the long-term unemployed.

  • Financing: one quarter of respondents felt that their financial resources were insufficient.

  • Evaluation: there was also scope to make better useof evaluation results to influence delivery.

  • Collaboration: respondents reported cooperation with employers, but suggested more focus on collaboration with other important actors.

  • Personalised approaches: a vast majority stated that they developed personalised approaches.

The second part of the report presents case studies that focus on targeting approaches, flexible models of training, the value of informal and formal learning, support of entrepreneurship, working in partnerships with other services, person-centred approaches, innovative public procurement, tailored support plans with different actors involved, personalised training, keeping the contact in employment, community engagement and employer engagement, innovation, cooperation with trade unions, social flexibility, appropriate funding mechanisms and new business models. The report also highlights the need for new funding mechanisms which would enable these new approaches, such as decentralisation, social impact bonds and social procurement.

Based on the findings of the survey and the case-studies, the last chapter of the report contains recommendations on how to implement effective back-to-work interventions for the long-term unemployed:

  • Understand the area and the context

  • Strategic leadership

  • Target limited resources to those most in need

  • Seek sustainability and added value

  • Provide Person-centred services

  • Make training and support work-focused and engage employers

  • Work in partnerships with other sectors

  • Embrace changing public sector roles and finance mechanisms and evaluate and disseminate

The European Social Network (ESN) sees the involvement of specialist social work services and a close cooperation with employment services as key to the social and labour market integration of those furthest from the labour market. You can read more about issues on active inclusion here.