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Delivering employment services for the future

Rethinking the Role of the Public Employment Service


The role of Europe’s public employment services (PES) is shifting in response to immediate labor market challenges and to profound long-term trends such as demographic change and rising skills needs that are reshaping Europe’s political economy.

This briefing paper explores emerging shifts in the PES role, details how PES are transforming to address the changing labor market, and reveals essential PES capabilities to deliver employment services for the future. It previews the key themes and topics on the European agenda and provides highlights of the observed trends, and presents thought-provoking questions for PES leaders national policy makers and the European Commission to consider.


Accenture’s 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—including continuously rising citizen expectations and a need for public service agencies to be much more cost-efficient and make the best use of public resources—are forcing the world’s governments to reassess the fundamentals of public service provision. In line with these findings, we envision future employment services as more personalized, insight-driven, entrepreneurial and productive. The implications for the role of the PES in light of these shifts are myriad.


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

In light of these shifts, PES will have to pursue new approaches to understanding the customer, understanding the labor market, understanding their own roles and understanding their operating context. To scale these fragments of innovation and qualitatively shift toward the employment and skills services of the future, more insight—and action—is needed. This includes a substantive exploration of opportunities for collaboration and joint action among the PES network and an examination of the ways that the European Commission can foster transnational infrastructures and coordination among different labor market actors.


Despite the diversity of the European labor environment across specific countries and regions, there is a spectrum of common activity for PES. This activity ranges from narrow scope functionality focusing on traditional brokerage and job-matching between individuals and employers to broader scope actions in which PES embrace shared responsibility for job-activation and income support using a range of active and passive labor market policy tools. Regardless of the pathway that different PES choose to adopt, the following portfolio of measures will characterize their transformation:

  • 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.

  • A digital 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.

  • 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 workforce of the PES 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 their assets and people.