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Executive briefing and research report: Delivering employment services

Rethinking the Role of the Public Employment Service


Europe’s public employment services (PES) are on the front lines in addressing immediate labor market challenges and long-term trends that are reshaping Europe’s political economy. Responding to these issues will mean that PES must rethink their role, responding to four structural shifts. As such, future employment service must be more personalized, insight-driven, entrepreneurial and productive. But what do these shifts specifically look like in the PES environment? And what moves are PES already making toward such changes?

This executive briefing and research report seeks to answer these compelling questions. It follows a previous Accenture preview paper that explored key themes and topics on the European employment agenda. This more in-depth exploration reveals key discussion outcomes from the European Centre Roundtable on Employment and Skills, held in Brussels in February 2013. This report includes excerpts from key themes discussed there, combined with research and insights from academia and Accenture’s experience working with PES across Europe.


Europe’s labor markets are experiencing multiple pressure points, both in the short- and long-term, as confirmed by the PES experts at the Employment and Skills Roundtable in Brussels. What exacerbates the challenge is that they must deliver more and better outcomes despite an environment of budget constraints and general austerity measures.

This do-better-with-less environment is common across the public sector. In fact, Accenture research titled Delivering Public Service for the Future: Navigating the shifts shows how a combination of seismic changes in the operating environments of public service organizations that are driving the need for governments to be more cost-efficient and make the best use of public resources.

In line with Accenture’s future vision of public service delivery, four structural shifts will shape the new face of Europe’s PES. These include the movement from:

  • Standardized to personalized services

  • Reactive to insight driven

  • Public management to public entrepreneurship

  • Budget cuts to mission productivity


The future of Europe’s labor market—and the role of the PES—will continue to evolve through deliberation, debate and a networked approach to the challenges faced by the member states, as well as active support from the European Union (EU) institutions. At the Roundtable, PES representatives discussed the vision for the overall European employment strategy. Moving forward, Europe’s key labor market actors must continue to collectively work together to improve the employment market landscape. Roundtable experts discussed these areas of responsibility:

  • PES managers. PES managers will continue playing an active role in shaping and orchestrating future labor markets by using analytics to better manage available labor market information.

  • PES networks. PES need to build stronger networks with peers and the EU to harmonize their labor market system. Participating in workshops and roundtable events such as the one hosted by the European Centre can strengthen ties.

  • National policymakers. Policymakers need to think and act more like entrepreneurs to increase PES agency productivity. Working closely with PES, national policymakers should empower PES to play a more active role in shaping effective labor markets.

  • The European Commission. The Commission can take steps to improve jobs mobility, employability and sustainability of European labor markets by enhancing job portals such as EURES and using funding to target member states’ specific sector needs.


PES will act as the primary actors to aid labor market transparency, mobility and employability. This means a fundamental shift in ways of working. While Roundtable participants shared a number of creative ideas and pathways, they all agreed on a common set of capabilities that they will need to deliver employment services for the future.

  • A market intelligence competency to anticipate current and forecast future labor market demand, translating this insight into effective and early intervention across different levels of the organization (national, regional and local offices.)

  • An agile service strategy that supports the business objectives, including effective channel management, use of social media and mobility tools to cater to the future needs of job seekers and employers. There was a big emphasis at this year’s Roundtable on an online or e-services approach, primarily driven by cost constraints.

  • A partnership orientation with emphasis on including other labor market actors such as employers, training providers and research organizations in the value chain of employment service delivery.

  • A knowledge-management culture where the PES workforce is motivated to learn new tools and techniques, share knowledge and leading practices both within the organization and across the PES network.

  • A high-performance commitment promoting a culture of continuous improvement and deriving the best use of assets and people. With a major focus on austerity, PES have initiated a range of programs to help reduce inefficiencies and redundancy in their operations.

The learning from the Roundtable reveals that PES are committed to reform and ready for this role. PES understand the imperative for change, and they can see exciting opportunities to act decisively to deliver employment services of the future.