Développement économique et création d'emplois locaux (LEED)

Building flexibility and accountability into local employment services


LEED project promoting greater flexibility in labour market policy


Human resources and skills are becoming increasingly important to economic development. In the context of the economic downturn, challenges such as high youth unemployment call for a collaborative and tailored approach. But do local labour market offices have sufficient flexibility in the implementation of their policies and programmes to contribute effectively to local strategies? If they are to be given more flexibility, how can this be reconciled with the need for accountability and the achievement of national policy goals?


Building Flexibility and Accountability into Local Employment Services is a LEED project which has delved into these questions and examined in-depth the management of labour market policy in Canada, Belgium (Flanders), Denmark and the Netherlands. It explores how policy makers in each have been able to inject greater flexibility into the management of employment policy at the local level, how full accountability to meet national policy goals has been built in, and labour market policy shifts as a result of the economic downturn. Recently published as OECD LEED Working Papers is a synthesis report which provides an overview and analysis of the project findings, and four country reports offering more detailed, country specific analyses.



The Building Flexibility and Accountability into Local Employment Services synthesis report brings together findings from each of the four country studies to examine how Belgium, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands have responded to the challenge of rewarding local employment offices more flexibility while retaining accountability. It provides overall and country-specific policy recommendations for policy makers at all levels and incorporates the outcomes of an international conference in Aarhus, April 2011. Best practice lessons are extracted from these four case study countries (and from a broader set of OECD countries) for consideration. Download the report


Country Report for Belgium:
The Belgium report explores the level of local accountability and flexibility within labour market policy in Flanders, focusing in particular on the Flemish Public Employment Service (VDAB), municipalities and the regional tripartite consultation platforms SERRs and RESOCs. Download the report





Country report for Canada:
The Canada report explores the level of local accountability and flexibility within labour market policy in Canada, focusing in particular on the provinces of Alberta and New Brunswick. Download the report






Country report for Denmark:
The Danish report explores the level of local accountability and flexibility within labour market policy in Denmark in the context of the new role which has been given for labour market policy by the municipalities. Download the report






Country report for Netherlands:
The Netherlands case study explores the level of local accountability and flexibility within labour market policy in the Netherlands, focusing on the UWV (public employment service) and the municipalities, and collaboration around ‘working squares’. Download the report.





The Accountability in Decentralised Employment Service Regimes report, prepared by independent expert Hugh Mosely, compares and contrasts four OECD countries with decentralised delivery systems for managing active labour market policy (Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark). This report contextualises the findings of the OECD LEED "Managing Accountability and Flexibility" study in current academic discussions relating to new performance management and accountability.

Download the report




Aarhus conference

On 5th April 2011 the Municipality of Aarhus and the National Labour Market Authority of Denmark hosted a high-level international OECD conference which brought together over 100 participants to review the results of OECD research in the four participating countries. Held as part of the Building Flexibility and Accountability into Local Employment Services project, policy makers outlined how their local labour market services operate and debated the best way of managing flexibility while ensuring accountability.

Mr. Aart de Geus, Deputy Secretary General of the OECD and Mr. Bo Smith, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Employment, Denmark were keynote speakers. Discussions at the conference have shaped the final recommendations in the synthesis report.


See the Agenda

See Issues Paper


Following on from LEED work

This recent project follows on from previous LEED work. Breaking out of policy silos (2010) found that flexibility in the management of government policies is the most important factor affecting policy integration at the local level. Flexibility for labour offices at the local level was discussed in depth at a high-level conference in 2008 on Decentralisation and Coordination: The Twin Challenges of Labour Market Policy.  Conference participants analysed the local flexibility of labour market policy in 25 OECD countries and adopted the Venice Action Statement which included a commitment from governments to inject flexibility into the management of labour market policy.


For further information please contact Ms. Francesca Froy




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