By Graham Bukowski, Sarah Jenkins, Hazel Roberts
The Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre Plus are interested in understanding what lessons they might learn from the vacancy filling services delivered by comparable organisations both in the UK and internationally. In particular, they are keen to understand how such organisations set targets and manage performance in this part of their business. This report sets out the findings from qualitative research with private and public employment organisations across the UK, Canada, Sweden and the Netherlands. It outlines options which the Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre Plus may wish to explore further to establish whether different ways of working could help them achieve their strategic objectives.
The research findings indicated that there has been a significant refocus in the strategic aims and associated targets of Jobcentre Plus and comparator organisations. Some organisations have witnessed benefits in moving from jobseeker to employer-led business models. A performance framework underpinned by targets is found to help drive an effective employment service. Outcome (rather than process), and quality (rather than quantity) targets are felt to generate success, particularly when supported by regular reporting, quality assurance and communication.
Other factors that are felt to contribute to improved vacancy filling performance and achievement of strategic objectives include an emphasis on referring quality candidates to employers and ensuring autonomy for individual staff and local offices in how services are delivered. In terms of how vacancy filling services are currently working, staff resources in all organisations are currently invested most intensively in jobseekers that are harder to help and employers that provide the largest volume of vacancies or are willing to take on harder to help jobseekers. Finally, online methods of vacancy matching have emerged as increasingly popular over recent years, although interviewees felt that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) continue to prefer telephone and face-to-face contact. All organisations recognise the importance of the online market, and that IT systems need to be in place to meet the growing demands and expectations of employers.