Employment policies and data

Profiling tools and their use in active labour market policies




OECD Technical Workshop

 Profiling tools and their use in active labour market policies

 21 June 2018

OECD Conference Centre (CC20), Paris, France


The rising numbers of the long-term unemployed together with fiscal consolidation that followed the economic crisis in many OECD countries, have highlighted the need to introduce effective and cost-efficient tools to target activation measures and employment services to the most needy. Jobseeker profiling procedures allocate jobseekers across a small number of categories, in order to manage scarce resources and deliver services that are appropriate for the needs of each group. The need for such formal categorisation of clients is greatest where the caseload of employment services is particularly varied, where the public employment service systematically refers clients on to distinct services or private service providers, or where counselling resources are limited and access needs to be rationed in some way.  


Over the past decades, OECD countries have used a variety of profiling tools to assess jobseekers’ employment potential which serve the purpose of developing individual action plans and directing the jobseekers towards the appropriate active labour market measures. These tools range from purely statistical/econometric tools, rules-based or administrative approaches and more qualitative profiling, where the role of the caseworker is significant, but which can be more subjective. Most countries use a mix of these tools in their systems. The context in which countries develop and implement their profiling systems determines to a large extent the design of those systems and the implementation challenges that can occur, as well as the expected outcomes.


Well-designed profiling tools can improve targeting of labour market services (e.g. intensive counselling) and labour market programmes (e.g. training), support job matching processes and, thereby, promote cost-efficiency activation measures and minimise dead-weight loss. The results from profiling exercises also play an important role for budget planning as they can be used to determine fees paid to providers of contracted out employment services or budgets allocated to lower levels of government that deliver employment or social services. Nonetheless, their design and implementation are challenging and depend strongly on the availability of data, integrating profiling procedures into PES workflows, ensuring buy-in by PES staff and the possibilities to invest in IT as well as human resources.


This workshop will be an opportunity for countries to share their experiences in designing and implementing profiling tools and to discuss the trade-offs and challenges they face and possible ways to address them. Moreover, the issue of the evaluation of profiling tools and what works and for whom will also be discussed in the workshop.




9:00             Registration

9:30-9:45     Welcome and introduction


9:45-11:00   Session 1- Purpose and use of profiling

Chair: Annie Gauvin (Public Employment Service Pôle Emploi, France)


Stefan Schließke (Federal Employment Agency, Germany)

Barry Kennedy (Department of Social Protection, Ireland)

Martine Breedvelder (Public Employment Service UWV WERKbedrijf, the Netherlands)

Francesca Carta (National Agency for Active Labour Market Policies, Italy)


Issues for discussion:

What is the precise context in which profiling is developed and used? Can profiling serve multiple objectives/purposes? At which stage should profiling be conducted? Should it be repeated and if yes, how often? What aspects of activation are determined by the profiling tool, i.e. establishment, monitoring and revision of individual action plans and job integration agreements, purpose and frequency of contacts with employment counsellors, job referrals? How is profiling integrated into case management? Does profiling affect jobseekers’ behaviour? How can profiling be used to improve labour market data and predict long-term unemployment? Are profiling data linked with vacancy data to improve job matching?


11-11:30      Coffee break


11:30-12:45 Session 2-  Design and methodology: moving towards holistic profiling?

Chair: Julian Hiebl (European Commission)


Julian Hiebl (European Commission)

Petra Ornstein (Public Employment Service Arbetsförmedlingen, Sweden)

Carsten Søren Nielsen (Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment, Denmark)

Mari Väli (Unemployment Insurance Fund, Estonia)


Issues for discussion: how countries mix between quantitative and qualitative profiling? What type of skills are assessed and what are the variables used in the assessment? Is there scope for dynamic and flexible tools to respond to changing labour market conditions? How we can go beyond work experience and formal qualifications to soft skills and personal attitudes? What are the strengths and weaknesses of available data sources (administrative or survey)? How is data quality ensured and what are possible validity tests? Can local labour market conditions be accounted for?


12:45-14:00 Lunch break


14:00-14:45 Session 3- Working with external service providers and different government levels

Chair: Mark Keese (Skills and Employability Division, OECD)


Margaret Kidd (Government Department of Employment, Australia)

Billy Blyth (Department for Work and Pensions, United Kingdom)


Issues for discussion:

How can profiling data be used to plan and improve cooperation between the PES and private service providers? Can it also be used to manage cooperation with local authorities and those administering social assistance? Is profiling used (should it be used) to determine resource allocation?


14:45-16:00 Session 4- Profiling tools everywhere, all the time? Key challenges for implementation

Chair: Scott Gibbons (Department of Labor, United States)


Erik Klewais (VDAB, Flanders, Belgium)

Ingeborg Friehs (Public Employment Service AMS Österreich, Austria)

Scott Gibbons (Department of Labor, United States)

Nick Carroll (New Zealand Permanent Delegation to the OECD)


Issues for discussion:

What are the implications of the use of profiling for PES staff? How can PESs help their caseworkers understand, accept and use profiling? What are the data-related challenges and how can good quality and reliable data be collected? How can new technologies and IT systems be used to improve data collection for profiling? Are there thorough evaluations of profiling tools? How can such evaluations be conducted so that we know what works and for whom?


16:00-16:15 Wrapping up




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