Digitalisation in PES (Webinar)

Public Employment Services and

Welfare Reform at the Frontline

Hosted by Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute and Department of Sociology in collaboration with the ACAPES and GAII projects

Covid-19 is fast-tracking more and more services online however the transformation and ‘digitalisation’ of the welfare state has been on the horizon for several years. In June, Ireland’s Labour Market Advisory Council, while recognising that face-to-face support will remain necessary for some people, advocated digitalisation of Public Employment Services as a means to ‘create new channels to deliver activation and job-search supports’. Internationally, before Covid, big data and machine learning were already being used extensively to automate and enhance the profiling of jobseekers for activation. Several countries including Belgium and Australia were also pioneering and experimenting with ‘digital-by-default’ automated employment services models.

The purpose of this conference is to understand how apps, algorithms and big data are being deployed in activation and employment guidance services and to unpack the associated challenges and opportunities for enhancing welfare delivery through digitalisation.

Over the course of two sessions, leading international researchers, policy practitioners, and employment guidance professionals will address key issues related to the use of digitalisation within activation and employment guidance services:

• What are the risks and benefits of AI and big data for streamlining how jobseekers are targeted for assistance? How are case managers and providers utilising profiling technologies for needs assessment and service customisation?

• To what extent are apps and algorithms complementing or displacing the professional judgement of case managers and guidance workers?

• In what ways can digital platforms enhance job-matching, guidance, and placement services while ensuring that vulnerable clients are not left behind?

• What are the implications of digitalisaton for practices of welfare conditionality?

• How is big data, AI and machine learning changing how employment and guidance workers view and work with their clients?

Session 1: Digitalising Public Employment Services: International policy developments and trends

Chair: Dr Michael Mc Gann, Marie Curie Research Fellow, GAII, MUSSI


Ludo Struyven, Associate Professor and Head of Research on Education and Labour Market, KU Leuven, Belgium.

•Ray Griffin, Lecturer in Strategic Management, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland.

•Jo Ingold, Associate Professor, Department of Management, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.

•Simone Casey, Research Associate at Per Capita and Future Social Services Institute, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia.


•John Martin, Former Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, OECD and Chair of Irish Labour Market Advisory Council

Session 2: Using digital tools in employment and guidance services: practitioner and stakeholder perspectives

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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