If not now, then when? Digitalizing PES in times of COVID – and what it costs.
The current worldwide pandemic has catapulted the labor market into a state of unprecedented turbulence. According to the OECD, the impact on jobs just within the first three months has been 10 times that of the 2008 financial crisis. Entire sectors such as hospitality, civil aviation and cultural sectors have been hit hard, resulting in mass job losses and collapsing self-employed incomes. On the other hand, e-commerce and supermarkets, courier and logistics services, manufacturers of food or hygiene products, pharmaceuticals and others have thrived, creating new opportunities by dramatically increasing their workforce. Even if some of these jobs are only temporary, they can be lifesavers for those in need of income.
Amidst these turbulences, Public Employment Services (PES) have faced a historical stress test, being inundated with a number of new jobseekers far beyond what their often outdated systems are typically designed for – if such systems are in place at all. With youth struggling due to the closing down of entry-level jobs and apprenticeships, and low-paid workers, women, ethnic minorities as well as self-employed and informal workers among the hardest hit by the crisis, existing vulnerabilities have been exposed and inequalities amplified. Now more than ever, PES must find new ways to best serve their people in this crisis and in future. These vulnerable groups need to be reconnected with good jobs as quickly as possible to avoid potentially long-lasting scarring effects. And PES need to be prepared for further shifts and turbulences in the labor market with innovative digital solutions that help strengthen labor market resilience by ensuring efficiency and scalability as well as providing creative placement solutions and valuable, timely insights – into the labor market and for jobseekers and employers.
Even if a country’s PES is only just being built up, now is the right time to initiate a digital transformation. In fact, there may never be a better time – especially for countries that are just getting started. A well-designed solution does not require a perfect starting point. It does not need a lot of in-house data or even a well-organized PES. It performs well in markets with only few highly skilled professionals and supports transitions from the informal to the formal economy. In addition, choosing a mobile-first approach geared towards self-service features over a cumbersome expert system plays to the strengths of one of the most affected groups of the pandemic: young people, who are used to taking matters into their own hands, finding information and discovering their options with their devices. The digital transformation has begun and those who want to be part of it must act now.
To ensure effective digitalization in these challenging times, PES should look for solutions with:
Full profile matching based on ontologies for a wider variety of fitting placement solutions
Instead of simply comparing job titles, jobseekers can be matched based on their full profile of skills, education, previous experience and many more relevant criteria. This will particularly help those who need to seek new lines of work due to collapsing economic sectors, where matching on job title alone is ineffective. In addition, using labor market-specialized ontologies enriched with country-specific content helps identify hidden skills based on education and experience. This can substantially improve jobseeker profiles and thus broaden the search for suitable jobs and candidates, whilst significantly increasing the accuracy of matches.
Searchable jobseeker profiles and simple recruitment processes for enhanced visibility and virtual mobility
Providing jobseekers with a platform to present themselves with a searchable, well-structured profile enhances their visibility and gives them the opportunity to be found by potential employers. To avoid bias, the open profile should only contain professional information. Integrating the first steps of selection and recruitment process into the system reduces the need to travel in person until a real opportunity presents itself. These features improve both visibility and virtual mobility for jobseekers, which is especially important for vulnerable groups such as low-paid or informal workers and minorities and in times of increased remote working and hiring. Easy-to-use recruitment processes also encourage smaller businesses to transition from informal candidate search, e.g., by word of mouth, to online vacancy posting, making their business and open positions visible to a wider pool of jobseekers.
Non-discriminatory, explainable matching for unbiased and transparent results
Matching processes must be explainable and auditable to ensure transparency and accountability. Moreover, solutions should be designed in a way to guarantee that by default the best candidate with the best aptitude in all individual criteria achieves the best match – regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability or other personal characteristics. This ensures that all jobseekers have equal opportunities, including youth, women and minorities.
Gap analysis for targeted job and career pathing
In times of dramatic shifts in the labor market, many jobseekers are required to identify new lines of work and change professions entirely. By determining the closest match to currently available positions and identifying missing skills, training or other relevant criteria, gap analyses can help find a path out of the employment crisis. Based on real-time labor market data and comprehensive ontologies, they can be used to counsel individual jobseekers, or even to redirect entire workforces from disappearing professions or sectors.
Smart labor market intelligence to identify real-time shifts and labor market shocks
In a turbulent labor market environment with fast and unpredictable changes, smart labor market intelligence delivered in real time as well as well-designed intelligence management tools can make the crucial difference. Processed with a powerful labor market ontology, these data can provide better, more accurate and timely insights – key to effective management and rapid response.
JANZZ systems provide all of the above features and more. We cannot create jobs, but we can help countries smooth out the effects of COVID-19 in labor markets and guide PES in a digital transformation to become more efficient and more sustainable. We can support the transition from guessing to knowing what it will take to give employment back to as many people as possible. For instance, PES can leverage our integrated labor market solution JANZZilms! to take action in key areas and rapidly respond with timely strategies that have real impact.
Since the beginning of March 2020, we have been able to prove how powerful and scalable our systems are. In a large European country, almost 10% of the working population has been forced to register with the unemployment office due to the impact of the pandemic. At the beginning of the crisis, the system, which was designed for about 30,000 registrations per year, was saturated with almost 400,000 registrations within just a few weeks. Although nobody had anticipated a scenario like this during the planning phase, our systems processed almost ten times the volume of transactions without any problems. Performance and stability of the systems were always fully maintained in these important times. In addition, thanks to intuitive and intelligent design, the national PES was able to both increase job counseling capacities and reduce average time to market reintegration. This way, we were able to make a valuable contribution to the government’s efforts to quickly and efficiently register, counsel and reintegrate almost 400,000 job seekers in the country.
Quick and efficient implementation – with no surprises
Our agile methods have led time and again to outstanding products – developed on time and on budget. The standard solutions can be realized in 120 – 180 days, or 90 days in a language we have already deployed before. This provides great value in terms of implementation, operation and maintenance. Moreover, prices are fixed over several years, ensuring financial predictability. For instance, the full bundle solution JANZZilms! including all components such as matching and gap analysis, profiler, ontology, several languages, parsing, dashboards and much more, with up to one million active/concurrent users costs around USD 1 per user and year after implementation. As a complete SaaS solution, no further investments for the systems and hardware, regular maintenance, SLA’s or updating processes etc. are necessary. For larger systems with up to 5 million users in all roles (e.g., PES counsellors, job seekers, companies and job providers, third party providers like education etc.) the price drops to around 60-70 cents per user and year. With even larger systems, the price quickly falls below 50 cents per year.
Moreover, our solutions run in secure, GDPR-compliant cloud environments that are perfectly suited for any IT infrastructure including simpler setups in emerging markets. They also offer great accessibility for all users – from digital natives to tech newbies, on mobile and small screen devices and with slow internet connections.
For more information on how our services and solutions can help strengthen your labor market resilience, visit our product site for PES or contact us at email@example.com. If not now, then when?