A Collaborative Approach to Building Public Employment Services

Public Employment Services and

Welfare Reform at the Frontline

Dr Mary P. Murphy, co-investigator on the GAII project, leads the A Collaborative Approach to Building Public Employment Services project.
Dr Nuala Wheln is the post-doctoral research fellow on the ACA PES project.
ACA PES is funded by the Irish Research Council and is developing in collaboration with the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, the Local Employment Service Network and the Irish Local Development Network, and in association with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

A Collaborative Approach to Building Public Employment Services (ACA PES) focuses on the provision of Public Employment Service (PES) in Ireland and its capacity to support a range of service users and in turn impact positively on developing a strong and skilled labour force capable of accessing sustainable opportunities. The National Strategic Objective (5) focus on a Strong Economy, supported by Enterprise, Innovation and Skills, requires a public service infrastructure to support and develop the domestic labour force and ensure that job seekers receive the required supports to enable them to access these opportunities, this is particularly the case at times of labour and skills shortages. PES is a critical piece of the combined national effort to reach this objective and must be capable of offering support across the board to the citizens of Ireland, both skilled job seekers and job changers, and those most distant from the labour market.

With unemployment almost five percent, the conventional wisdom is that Ireland is approaching full employment. However other labour force measurements draw attention to the potential labour force. While not everyone can work, many do want to access paid employment. This is clearly an economic concern representing the opportunity cost of wages and revenue forgone and the cost of social welfare supports. There are also real challenges enabling people to adapt to labour market changes and the future of work. Crucially lack of access to decent work also represents a huge loss of human potential and capacity and limits opportunity to maximise economic and social inclusion as well as individual, family and community well-being.

Decent work and leaving no one behind

In Ireland the challenge is to create decent jobs and strong labour market institutions that enable everyone who wants to work access to paid employment. To date our public employment services have focused primarily on the live register and guided people toward a work first employment outcome. This research focuses on a collaborative approach to building a national public employment system which has the capacity to support the development of a strong labour force with a particular focus on the needs of diverse cohorts of job seekers, particularly those most distant from the labour market.

Research Approach

The research comprises three separate inter-related studies which will be conducted within a mixed methods framework: (1) a critical examination of the PES architecture in terms of public, private and NGO actors, their collaboration with a variety of stakeholders, and the identification of gaps in provision specifically for those most distant from the labour market; (2) a detailed description of the guidance models used by the various parts of the PES with particular focus on the model most appropriate for those most distant from the labour market; and (3) the identification and pilot of an appropriate social impact model with related outcome measurements, for example using a social return on investment model.
 
Across five work packages the research will in year one a) map the key institutional architecture, and b) outline the employment guidance model for those most distant from the labour market; and in year 2, c) design an employment focused guidance specification, tools to measure social value, and an evaluation toolkit. Two work packages, d) management and e) dissemination and impact, will traverse the project, using collaboration, innovation, and knowledge translation as key approaches. The research will be informed by reviews of current services and will draw on the advice of an experienced national and international steering committee.

Our research is funded by the Irish Research Council and is developing in collaboration with the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, the Local Employment Service Network and the Irish Local Development Network, and in association with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

The ‘High Road’ Back to Work: Developing a Public Employment Eco-System for a Post-Covid Recovery

The Covid-related unemployment crisis has been sharp and fast, resulting in unprecedented levels of job-loss in Ireland and elsewhere. Responding to the needs of the labour force and re-igniting the economy will require a careful strategy. The High Roack Back to Work Report explores the impact of the crisis on the labour force and presents research conducted at Maynooth University on how the public, private and not-for-profit sectors can be part of a post-Covid ‘Back to Work’ strategy. The report focuses on re-imagining a post-Covid Public Employment Eco System, who needs to be included in this strategy, and how it could be implemented in terms of institutions, governance, digitalisation and income supports.

Full Pdf of the Report –  High Road  

Map out what local employment eco system might look like for you – blank form –  Local County PEES Blank


On the 5th June 2020, the ACA PES project team presented a webinar to discuss the paper, led by Dr Mary Murphy (PI), Dr Nuala Whelan (Post Doc) and Dr Philip Finn (Research Assistant), with guest Prof Rory O’Donnell, retired Director National Economic and Social Council. The report is available below along with associated resources and a recording of the webinar.

Leave No One Behind Conference

The Leave No One Behind conference was the first of a number of events organised as part of the ACA PES: A Collaborative Approach to building a Public Employment Service project, funded under the Irish Research Council’s COALESCE programme. The project focuses on a collaborative approach to building a national public employment service.

This day-long conference asked how public employment services and career guidance models could best meet the long-term needs of those most distant from the labour market. The conference was aimed at academics, employment services and career guidance practitioners, and policy makers interested in developing public employment and guidance models.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under the Marie-Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement no. 841477.

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