Managing Decentralisation and New Forms of Governance
Today, governments devote significant efforts to improve local governance. Local governance, or the ways society finds solutions to its problems and meets its needs, can also be defined using its three main components following OECD 2001a): co-ordination of policies, adaptation of policies to local conditions and participation of civil society and business in the orientation of measures.
For over thirty years, decentralisation has been a key component of the institutional design adopted in many OECD countries and the European Union alike, and the trend has intensified continuously.
Today unemployment in Denmark is at its lowest in the last 25 years. Approximately 5% of the workforce are registered as active jobseekers. In addition, the number of persons working in welfare-to-work schemes and unemployment-related leave-of-absence schemes has shrunk considerably in the past five years and has now reached a historic low.
During the past thirty years the United States has shifted employment and training programme administration from the federal level to the states. The states to varying degrees have further delegated responsibilities to the local level.
Germany’s special conditions with three governmental levels (Federal, States, local, i.e. municipalities) and its tripartite social security institutions are keys to understand labour market policies, their development, their financing and their implementation.
In Italy, the last few years were characterised by an important reform process oriented towards the administrative decentralisation and the modernisation of the public administration and of the labour market. In particular, since the Law No. 196/97 – which has introduced the temporary contracts in Italy’s legal system – and after the three Bassanini Laws and the recent Constitutional Reform (Law No. 3/01), the progressive attribution of competences and functions, traditionally centralised to the regions and the local level took place.
The Flemish Region of Belgium
In order to boost the employment rate, the Flemish authorities strive for an efficient, well-balanced policy mix. The Flemish approach is focused both on labour supply (increasing employability through further training and intensive guidance for jobseekers) and labour market demand (promoting entrepreneurship and job creation, for example).
The systemic transformation in Poland begun in 1989, and opened new possibilities to build democracy and a market-based economy. It also revealed problems in the labour market, including unemployment.
Flexibility and Accountability in Labour Market Policy
This chapter presents a framework for examining the relationship between flexibility and accountability in labour market policy. The first section discusses the concepts of flexibility and accountability.
Figures on employment in the past few years have improved the outlook on the Spanish labour market. The current situation is that there are 16.4 million employed persons, 3.4 more jobs than six years ago. In 2002, the unemployment rate declined by over eight percentage points.
Since the mid-1990s, Canada has made long strides in establishing and strengthening collaborative partnerships in support of programme management and delivery. While this experience has been successful, along with this progress came certain challenges around the need to balance programme flexibility and innovation in governance on one hand, and accountability requirements on the other.
For over 30 years, workforce development programmes in the United States have been steadily decentralised. The Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1972, the Job Training Partnership Act of 1983 and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 successively assigned powerful roles and responsibilities to state and local governments and encouraged strategic planning to solve local labour market problems.
Market flexibility, competition and deregulation are the new buzzwords behind the recent attempts to instil change in the field of labour market reintegration policy.
In France, active labour market policy is still very largely the responsibility of central government, in contrast to other social policies, which have now been decentralised.
The public accountability for implementing state policy requires the best possible efficient use of available human and organisational resources, as well as financial assets.
The process of reform in OECD countries has now produced a remarkable range of models, plans and trajectories involving partnerships at the local level (Balloch and Taylor, 2001; McCarthy, 1998; Considine, 2001).
Tackling the Challenge of Policy Integration
"Governance" is different from government, which is commonly used to refer to the activities of the formal bodies through which society is governed – typically central and local government.
The European Commission identified the reform of European governance as one of its strategic objectives in early 2000. Thus, in July 2001, it adopted a "White Paper on European Governance".
The purpose of this chapter is to lay out a set of guidelines that can help policymakers, practitioners, and other stakeholders achieve better integration of labour market, social and economic policies within a decentralised system of employment service delivery.
FÁS is a public organisation under the authority of the Ministry of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. It has a budget for 2003 of over eight hundred million euros and provides direct employment and training programmes for over 100 000 people.
Almost 20 years ago Austria started to deliver labour market policy with the support of locally-based institutions, mainly non-profit organisations (NPOs). They were considered closer to the problem and its solution respectively, not bound by bureaucratic restrictions and not identified as being part of the official administration, therefore often more successful in approaching certain target groups with their specific problems.
While there are many differences between the experiences of OECD member countries in local governance, there are also some important underlying similarities among most if not all of them
To start with the end of a long process: from 1 January 2003, the government’s special measures for regional development are being decentralised as a "lump sum" to politically elected bodies at regional level. With this reform, the issues of regional priorities, partnerships, accountability and cross-sector coordination are put to the forefront of the regional debate in Norway.
New forms of governance are flourishing in many countries, including Sweden, promoting policy co-ordination and the adaptation of labour market policy to regional and local needs.
The Perm region, situated in the west Ural Mountains, numbers about three million inhabitants, half of whom are active in the labour market. The history of the region has defined its employment structure and labour flows.
The Impact of Partnerships on Public Governance
The previous chapters have provided us with a rich tapestry that captures the wide range of activities promoted over the years by the LEED Programme of the OECD. The picture contains some very marked differences of pattern and colour that reflect how broadly similar approaches have been translated in different ways across countries, regions and localities.
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