3. Designing responsive employment services to help people into good jobs

The Basque Country’s Public Employment Service (PES), Lanbide has been on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis. Across the OECD, PES have had to take measures to face a high intake of jobseekers and a shrinking number of job offers, while transitioning short term support into medium and long-term recovery strategies (OECD, 2020[1]). In order to take stock of Lanbide’s coming role in this recovery, this chapter is divided into two parts. Section 3.1 will analyse Lanbide’s role on the Basque labour market, while section 3.2 presents the opportunities the Basque PES can seize as the region recovers.

In 2008, the Basque government created Lanbide, the Basque public employment service (PES), with a focus on helping large cohorts of unemployed people back into employment due to the 2008 economic crisis. Lanbide allows the Basque Country to respond to labour market needs in locally sensitive manner, reflecting the Basque Country’s autonomous competencies in social and employment policy. Among a host of competencies, Lanbide provides regionally tailored active labour market policies, while also administering both regional and national passive policies. While other regions of Spain negotiate their annual budgets for labour market policy with the national public employment service, the Basque Country finances labour market policy with its own budget due to its autonomous legal status.

As lockdown measures were put in place in March 2020, Lanbide took on a renewed crisis management role. Lanbide handled an initial surge of Short Term Work (STW) schemes, adjusting its service to prioritise disbursing aid and protecting jobs. In this way, Lanbide has followed the actions of PES across the OECD. Practice sharing could help Lanbide maintain a greater array of activities during COVID, while also sharing its effective practices (Box 3.1). For instance, as part of the Basque government’s emergency response, Lanbide complemented STW, with EUR 100 to 150 for those with low incomes. Lanbide also began implementing the Spanish government’s Ingreso Minimo Vital (IMV), a minimum social revenue launched in June 2020. The IMV functions as a complementary income maintenance programme to the Basque Renta Garantia de Ingresos (RGI), also administered by Lanbide: qualifying beneficiaries may receive both schemes complementarily, without cumulating them (Bernal, 2020[2]). As criteria differ for reception, particularly concerning residency and wealth, the schemes are likely to target partially different groups.

Prior to COVID-19, as employment continued to recover from the surge of unemployment in 2008-2010, Lanbide was adjusting its strategy from dealing primarily with a large cohort of unemployed people to working on improving the quality of jobs and assisting those with complex employment barriers. In doing so, Lanbide had also taken steps to adapt its service to the future of work. Indeed, a host of labour market trends are inciting PES to adapt, including more complex labour market transitions, a digitalised economy and cooperation with new labour market actors. The mass adoption of remote work in the face of COVID-19 has helped accelerate the need to digitalise services. As part of multiple efforts, Lanbide has put in place tools such as Futurelan, anticipating which jobs are likely to face displacement, and has been working proactively with employers.

The Basque government also introduced a bill that aims to strengthen the role of Lanbide as a provider of employment services. The Anteproyecto de Ley/2019 del Sistema Vasco de Empleo y de Lanbide-Servicio Vasco de Empleo defines its main objectives to increase the quality of labour market programmes, the empowerment of jobseekers to find jobs, the development of the region’s economy and care for the most vulnerable individuals in the labour market. In the bill, Lanbide will to lead an integrated service provision that coordinates vocational guidance, training, job intermediation, employer engagement, promotion of entrepreneurship and self-employment as well as more comprehensive use of labour market information and foresights exercises.

Lanbide is responsible for administering the Basque Country’s main social insurance programme, the Renta Garantia de Ingresos (RGI). The RGI has been a substantial policy for reducing poverty in the Basque Country. The RGI was introduced in 1989 through a government initiative to fight poverty in the region. In this latest modification, the administration of RGI was transferred to Lanbide from local councils. RGI payments are determined according to multiple criteria1. The amount of the benefit depends on monthly income and family size. RGI functions as income support for households without income, those with low income that work and retirees who require an income complement. Payments in 2019 ranged from 694 EUR for one person without income to 985 EUR for a three-person household. Lone parents receive a 50 EUR supplement. In 2019, EUR 489,26 million was allocated to 52 455 recipients of RGI, which is 8.7% less recipients than in 2018, and 21% less than at its peak in 2015 (Gabinete técnico de Lanbide, 2019[3]).

Employment services in the Basque country benefit from strong investment compared to OECD averages. The Basque Country spends around 1.3% of its GDP on labour market policies (Figure 3.1). This places the region among OECD countries such as Germany, Italy and Denmark if taken as a percentage of GDP. Concerning labour market spending, the Basque Country devotes approximately 41% of if budget on active labour market measures, while the remaining 59% is spent on passive measures, such as benefits and other income supports. This is relatively similar to other public employment services within the OECD, who tend to spend a larger share of their spending on passive measures. Compared to Spain, however, the region spends a smaller share of expenditure-to-GDP on labour market policies, and a higher share on activation policies.

Expenditures of labour market programmes have also increased. Since 2013, the expenditure on active labour market programmes has grown around 5% annually, indicating that activation is a priority of the Basque government. Lanbide’s strategy is anchored in the Basque Employment Plan, the Estrategia Vasca de Empleo and Lanbide’s 2017-2020 strategy (Gobierno Vasco, 2017[4]). The region’s labour market strategy emphasises labour market activation, but also focuses on increasing the quality of jobs (Gobierno Vasco, 2016[5]).

Since 2011, a growing proportion of unemployed people have registered in the PES in the Basque Country. The proportion of registered unemployed is a key number in labour market policy, as it helps determine the reach of programmes, as those registered can be reached by PES services. In 2018, Lanbide’s registered 89% of all unemployed, placing Lanbide’s coverage higher than OECD countries with highest coverage rates, such as Germany or Belgium. (Figure 3.2). It is also 8% higher than the average coverage rate across Spain.2 A growing proportion of the long-term unemployed have registered in Lanbide offices, reaching 90.0% in 2018 compared to 85.9% in Spain (Figure 3.3). This number has risen by over 17 percentage points since Lanbide’s creation in 2008, when the Basque PES registered 72.2% of the long-term unemployed. This registration level has been above the Spanish average since 2010. This high rate translates into the potential for more inclusive labour market policies, as passive and active measures are able to reach a greater number of those most excluded from the labour market. Lanbide’s high rate for both unemployed and long-term unemployed people reflects effective outreach and registration strategies. The high registration rate is an asset as the Basque Country advances its COVID-19 recovery, because the PES’ strategies are well placed to reach new groups of job seekers.

Lanbide currently oversees a portfolio of 65 activation and job stimulation measures. While the majority of programmes are focused on the unemployed, there is also a strong focus on specific sub-population groups with lower labour force participation rates. This includes young people and women, for which eleven specific programmes have been introduced respectively to target each group (Table 3.1). These programmes will serve a particularly helpful role as young people and women are amongst those most likely to be impacted by COVID-19. Lanbide’s programmes could help prevent long-term scarring effects, in which those most vulnerable face long-term discouragement and difficulties integrating the labour market. The relatively high number of programmes for youth reflects the very high proportion of unemployed youth in the region following the 2008 and 2010 crises. Moreover, specific programmes have also been put in place for victims of domestic abuse or crime and other vulnerable groups, who have had access to ten different targeted programmes. Groups such as the long-term unemployed and people with disabilities, however, received a lower diversity of programme offerings, benefiting from only one and four programmes respectively.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lanbide programmes were increasingly targeting employed individuals to progress into higher quality jobs. In 2019, there were 371 896 people that received services from Lanbide – of which 49% were employed and 51% were unemployed (Table 3.2). In 2019, 14.4% of the serviced jobseekers were below 25 years old, while 71.8% were between 25 and 54 years old, and 12% were over 55 years old. The jobseeker share between ages has been similar during the last ten years, though an increasing focus has been places on people below 25 years old since 2012 (Figure 3.4). As the COVID-19 crisis progresses, however, Lanbide’s programmes are likely to replace their focus on a new cohort of unemployed people.

The social dialogue embedded in Lanbide’s management board supports inclusivity, as it allows the positions of government, unions and employers to be taken into account in Lanbide’s programmes. Indeed, Lanbide is directed by a tripartite managing board consisting of government representatives, employer associations and trade unions.3 Lanbide has three main Directorates under a General Directorate that reports to the Basque government: 1) general services; 2) activation; and 3) vocational education and training and the administration of the income support RGI. Lanbide has 42 local offices distributed over the territory of the Basque Country. Lanbide delivers its services through on-site staff, as well as a call-centre and a website to register CVs and post job vacancies. The managing board meets periodically and votes on general strategic directions and budgets. It also decides and approves changes in cooperation with public and private partners.

Lanbide also monitors and evaluates its policies through a business intelligence model. It monitors indicators and specific objectives coming from the different strategy plans and measured against achieved results. Results can be disaggregated and benchmarked on an office level. The model also includes satisfaction surveys of those job-seekers who received Lanbide services and are run four times a year. On the national level, the Spanish public employment service Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal (SEPE) measures Lanbide performance through the national monitoring tool, the Evaluación de los Desempeños de los Servicios Públicos de Empleo españoles (EVADES ). Additionally, within the annual financial report for the public sector in the Basque Country, there is a follow-up of implemented activities and programmes by Lanbide and how efficiently they used the allocated budget.

Beyond its tripartite structure, the Basque employment service system is intended as an ecosystem of different labour market actors. Principally, this involves the Basque government, social partners, educational institutes and municipalities. Lanbide has also entered multiple public-private and inter-institutional partnerships to improve its services. Public private partnerships are encouraged in the employment plan to enhance the main strategic line of “initiating and consolidating collaboration that helps enlarge and improve the capacity to respond to the needs of jobseekers and jobseekers” (Gobierno Vasco, 2016[5]). Lanbide engages in three main types of partnerships and committees:

  • In their implementation function for the 2017-2020 Employment Plan, Lanbide build linkages with several Ministries of the Basque Country. This includes the Ministry of Education on vocational training as well as the Ministries for Environment, Territorial Planning and Housing to create better social conditions for vulnerable groups;

  • Lanbide cooperates in partnerships at the regional level to coordinate activation and benefit functions. This includes partnerships with various regional and local organisations, such as the Basque Council for social services, the Basque Council for vocational education and training, and a council for social inclusion of the Roma population;

  • Lanbide is also reaching out to industrial clusters, a sector grouping that was initiated in the 1990s and gathers companies and actors across specific industrial sectors. Clusters are considered a powerful tool in the landscape of Basque business and its international outreach. Cooperation with Lanbide focuses on employment prospects, research and development as well as vocational education and training with these clusters.

Lanbide generally develops these partnerships through individual contracts, memorandums of understanding and other forms of partnership. Lanbide services reach different jobseekers through the ecosystem of partners and providers with the Basque Country, such as local development agencies, city councils, universities, training entities and worker cooperatives.

Lanbide is also a member of several European Union employment and labour market networks. These include the skills mobility network of the European Employment Service (EURES) and the research group European Network of Regional Labour Market Monitoring. This involvement allows Lanbide to exchange good practices with European counterparts, developing programmes based on effective practices abroad that correspond to the Basque Country’s employment conjecture. Since 2020, Hobetuz, the Basque Foundation for Further Training has been merged with Lanbide. Hobetuz is responsible for the implementation of vocational training in the Basque Country. It was founded by a tripartite agreement in 1995 and has the objective to offer vocational training in line with labour market needs, while facilitating connections between workers, jobseekers, training institutions and employers. Lanbide’s management board approves the budget for Hobetuz. (Lanbide, 2020[6]).

Drawing on international best practice, this section delves into how Lanbide could build on its recent initiatives to maximise its services to meet the changing needs of job seekers. The section analyses: (1) staff approaches (2) digital services (3) social benefit administration and (4) employer engagement.

Since its establishment in 2011, Lanbide has increased staff capacity significantly to meet rising demand. Staff has grown from 550 in 2011 employed full time equivalents to 1020 in 2019. Of the 1020 staff members, 73% are women and 27% are men. 60% of these full time equivalents work in employment offices servicing jobseekers, while the remaining 40% are working in the public employment service’s three regional directorates. The staff working in the directorates manage the 65 activation programs communicating with job seekers via phone and email. Staff in employment offices offer also face-to-face service to job seekers and employers.

Lanbide staff benefits from long work experience in the field, though reflects an ageing cohort. 60% of Lanbide job advisors have a higher vocational education or bachelor level education, while 40% hold education attainment at lower than vocational or bachelor education. 60% of staff working with local employment offices across the Basque Country are over 50 years old, while only 1.5% of staff are under 30 years old. Lanbide’s may benefit from a higher proportion of younger staff in order to meet the rising employment disadvantages of young people, in particular in light of COVID-19. In comparison, Sweden’s PES has an average staff age of 47 years.

Lanbide counsellors navigate job seekers with general information and refer them to more specialised services as the job seeker’s situation evolves. Across the OECD, PES establish different balances between generalist services, which help orient job seekers in initial stages, and greater specialisation upfront (Box 3.2). Job seekers who come to the public employment service to ask for support will be registered, informed about the labour market opportunities and the available support measures. The job seekers personal information and qualification background are stored. Profiling tools used during initial registration interviews help prioritise job-seekers who are already long-term unemployed or are the highest risk of becoming long-term unemployed, while also contributing to the development of individualised action plans to tailor services appropriately.

Lanbide helps job seekers in the region take advantage of the labour market access brought by digital search tools, without replacing conventional methods. Across the OECD, PES are adapting to the new world of work by reinforcing their digital offer while also increasing the digital literacy of staff (Box 3.3). In the Basque Country, the three most used methods for job search are convention methods, while digital strategies remain the minority. For instance, 81% and 76% of job seekers (inclusively) respectively unemployed for less than six months in the region searched for work through personal networks and ads in journals or newspapers, including online formats (Figure 3.5). Lanbide, meanwhile, is only used by between 31% to 48 % of jobseekers unemployed for less than six months, including both those who wait to be contacted by Lanbide and who contact the services, respectively. Meanwhile, between 33% to 50% of long term unemployed jobseekers use Lanbide. Digital outreach could help Lanbide both reach out to a greater proportion of job seekers while also making it more accessible.

Lanbide has began integrating important digital initiatives. Lanbide’s reform bill envisages a digital strategy to consolidate a multi-channel approach to the job seeker search process. New technology allows public employment services to redesign processes and become more integrated, so that previously separated activities such as profiling and matching can become part of the same workflow (European Network of Public Employment Services, 2019[8]). Digital technologies can be used for standardised procedures such as initial registration and posting job vacancies; personalised interactions between PES staff and jobseekers, casework counselling functions, and skills training and development. In a number of OECD countries, online vacancy databases are the most used vacancy platforms as measured by the proportion of all vacancies in the economy being notified to the PES (OECD, 2015[9]).

Below, international examples will illustrate how Lanbide can build on its digitalisation efforts. Three transformations will be highlighted: (1) intake, (2) identification of job seeker groups and (3) vocational guidance.

Digitalisation is an efficient way to streamline the initial intake of jobseekers. Face-to-face entrance, however, should be maintained for those who may struggle with digital tools. Lanbide is considering digital delivery options to motivate jobseekers to register online and answer initial questions answered through web applications or in a multi-channel service approach. In this process, the first level would also have first interviews with the jobseekers about their needs as well as their sense of expectations in searching and finding a job (Figure 3.1). Indeed, the 2018 EVADES evaluation, based on European Public Employment Service Network criteria, recommends Lanbide to make stronger use of advanced analytics in the early phases of registration. Such analytics could help better classify job seekers groups, including beyond those who are unemployed (Ministerio de empleo y seguridad social and EVADES, 2018[15]).The second service level includes a deeper dive into building the jobseekers activity plan, which serves as the backbone for further employability and job intermediation measures. An important component of this plan is vocational guidance, which advises the jobseeker how to adjust the personal job profile, how to capitalize or add transversal skills and how to take local economic and personal situations into account for the job search.

Codification could help record jobseeker skills in the early orientation stages. According to Lanbide staff, profiling and matching services in practice are challenging because occupations are codified through the Clasificación Nacional de Ocupaciones (CNO). The CNO does not reflect transversal skills of job seekers and faces compatibility difficulties with international standards like the international standard classification of occupations (ISCO) and the European standard classification of occupations (ESCO), thus complicating homogenous classification and mapping of skills. To reinforce the skills analysis of job seekers, Lanbide has been working to adjust their occupation classification to the ESCO standard. Today, after an automatised matching runs national codes through the IT system, job advisors manually revise CVs and look for further matching possibilities. In Flanders, Belgium, the region’s PES has supplemented its intake process with extensive digital tools using algorithms, which register job seeker data to create an itinerary for the individual as his or her path evolvers (Box 3.4).

Current registration at Lanbide offices already allows a basic segmentation of jobseeker groups according to their employability. According to interviews of job advisors carried out in this study, however, its delivery could be reinforced. Lanbide could look to Australia for an example of how to cater the intensity of services to a jobseeker’s level of disadvantage (Figure 3.7). In Germany, jobseekers are divided into six different profiles using a software-guided assessment of their distance to the labour market. Based on this sorting, intensive services are provided for job seekers with complex problems, such as drug abuse and homelessness. Specific teams of placement officers work with these populations. Small caseloads, such as 65-70 jobseekers per officer, and relaxed regulations for jobseeker contact allows them to adopt a more intensive and holistic approach (OECD, 2015[9]).

To increase the chances of helping jobseekers, databases need to centre the provided information around the opportunities of the jobseekers and the training possibilities to increase their employability. For instance, to reach out to younger jobseekers, an online job portal works best when it includes all relevant and updated job offers and CVs integrating and not duplicating other existing job portals. Matching parameters have been improved in recent years in several public employment services with the use of algorithms to support the matching and mine additional data for a more complex profile of the jobseeker. Job portals for the new digital generation also go beyond the static provision of a job offer, but facilitate networking possibilities for jobseekers, compare their trajectories to those that resulted in successful job placement and help build personal profiles through targeted CV construction. Portals can also include plug-ins to connect to social networks, create and share online content. Social networks can also be used to promote the work and activities of a PES to reach younger jobseekers.

Digital vocational guidance can document thoroughly which skills individuals have as well as their current gaps to connect them to training opportunities. Modern digital job matching systems offer the possibility to evaluate, diagnose skills profiles and support face-to-face advice and vocational guidance. They also help tailor- vocational education and training measures, since they can relate skills levels with work readiness, interest in specific branches or types of work, non-formal experiences and other determinants of employability. Following generated profiles that contain all this information, the jobseeker can get personalised assessment for virtual or on-site trainings. Such digitally facilitated use of real-time information about skills needs is particularly relevant for upskilling and reskilling of adults (Cedefop, 2019[17]). Digital tools could also track and guide jobseeker careers. They can connect this information to the databases of other partners, such as vocational education and training institutions. Digitally supported training that connects data of Lanbide jobseekers can create employability accounts for each jobseeker, help the management of training centres including the design, financing and evaluation of training modules. It can also open connectivity to accreditation information of skills or even registrations and qualifications of training institutes, which would additionally structure the quality monitoring function of Lanbide in the employment service system of the Basque Country.

Lanbide has the complex role of being an agent for labour intermediation and for social protection, a relatively unique role among employment services in Spain. This dual role is an advantage to better connect job activation and income maintenance. The decrease in Renta de Garantía de Ingresos (RGI) claimants may be a sign that some activation policies have helped RGI claimants into the labour market, while reducing RGI caseload for Lanbide (Figure 3.8). Indeed, the amount of funds attributed to RGI has decreased as the recovery from financial crisis progressed in the region, from over 507 500 in 2017, to just under 489 300 in 2019 (Figure 3.9).

RGI has played a significant role in mitigating poverty in the Basque Country since the financial crisis. RGI’s activation arm, however, may not consistently result in long-term and high quality job placements (de la Rica et al., 2020[18]). Indeed, in 2019, only 23.2% of RGI recipients found work, while those that did tended to work in temporary jobs (Figure 2.10). One of the main reasons for low job placements may be the significant time necessary to process RGI applications. Indeed, concerning staff caseloads, Lanbide staff estimate one staff member is responsible for 426 job seekers, though representing a staff intensity of 675 when considering how long it takes to process an RGI application (Figure 3.11). Even if cases have different service intensities and not all job seekers will require activation measures with direct Lanbide involvement, the case load puts the Basque public employment service in similar case proportions as Mexico or Chile, and below European averages in Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland with less than 100 cases per staff.

Lanbide’s high case commitment may prevent the PES from fully delivering on other labour market programmes. Indeed, according to social partners and local labour market actors involved in this study, Lanbide staff struggle to devote time to carry out intermediation cases or other activation measures fully. To mitigate this problem, in Germany, fourteen local PES offices hired additional caseworkers to lower the staff/jobseeker ratios to an average of 1:70 (from the usual 1:80 to 1:250) to improve the quality of placement services. Evaluations of the experiment showed that with lower caseloads, PES offices could intensify counselling, monitoring and sanction efforts as well as contacts with local firms, resulting in shorter benefit durations in the participating offices (Hainmueller and al, 2011[19]).

The lack of staff capacity to handle all RGI and activation cases may have consequences on the paths of job seekers in the region. Compared to those unemployed less than six months, a greater share of long term unemployed people in the Basque Country are registered with Lanbide (Figure 3.12). This may be due to Lanbide’s strong strong capacity to register job seekers, likely driven by its dual role of registering individuals for RGI. This share of people registered receiving benefits such as RGI, however, decreases from 35% to 24% as a share of total unemployed persons comparing those unemployed for less than six months with those unemployed for 12 months or more. Meanwhile, the share of those registered but not receiving benefits increases from 51% to 75% for the same respective groups.

The pressure on Lanbide’s administrative capacity may harm the long term unemployed, as they face decreasing benefits and reduced access to activation and training measures. Moreover, in 2019, the number of services rendered to jobseekers decreased compared to the year before, decreasing from over 216 000 to nearly 185 200 (Figure 3.13). This trend may have been influenced by the ongoing recovery. Similarly, over the last six years, the number of people registering with Lanbide and not gaining employment has been higher than those that are registered and did gain employment.

Administering social benefits while fully delivering activation to job seekers is a challenge across employment services tasked with both policies. There is no one-size-fits all approach. A mixture between jobseeker needs, budgetary constraints and institutional capacity is to be found. A way to reduce staff time on RGI applications without reducing coverage may be due reduce the administrative procedures required to process RGI applications. This approach may be particularly fruitful as interviews carried out for this study expressed the large amount of time needed to validate RGI applications compared to other measures. In Europe, NAV in Norway may be a relevant example for Lanbide as it covers both active and passive measures, while also adopting a generalist staff approach (Table 3.3). One way NAV reduces paperwork while maintaining relatively high coverage and inclusion is through automated services that do not overburden staff with paperwork. In this way, a more automated RGI process, for job seekers with digital literacy and internet access, could help streamline the process. In Germany, the PES adopted another approach, by separating the administration of active and passive measures, while still maintaining parts of administration. In Flanders, VDAB focuses solely on active measures and increase the agility and sector specialisation of the service.

Employer engagement is critical for Public Employment Services (PES) to ensure job placements and support job quality. Services to employers include vacancy intake and registration, informing employers about available Active Labour Market Policies (ALMP), pre-selecting jobseekers for interviews with employers, offering legal advice and organising information sessions or job fairs. The relatively low visibility and trust that public employment services have among employers is a challenge faced by PES across the OECD. Many employers may be reluctant to turn to PES for candidates (Oberholzner, 2018[20]). Some employers may not perceive the need to address PES, or may feel sceptical about candidates sourced by PES (OECD, 2015[9]). In this way, efforts from both employers and PES can help ensure mutual benefits are derived. Below, PES strategies will be discussed to: (1) engage with employers in greater depth, and (2) how career-long career guidance and skills matching can encourage employers to reach out to PES.

Lanbide engages with employers particularly to identify future labour market developments and ensure job quality controls. Many employers, however, may not perceive the advisory role Lanbide can play to help them best use the skills of local job seekers. Facing similar issues, Public Employment Service (PES) in multiple OECD countries have reinforced their employer engagement strategies to increase their visibility.

In the German Bundesagentur, specific services are given to employers, especially small and medium sized firms, to help them set up vacancies or administer other human resource services. Likewise, the German PES has specialised staff members in over 150 employment offices who are in charge of managing employer jobseeker accounts, including recruitment services, post-placement services, support with paper-work, apprentice management, financial support and qualification offers. After the first contact, the employer is allocated to one account manager, who works on finding suitable skills and researching the skills market in a mid-term perspective. Job fairs, targeted site visits, networking breakfasts and dialogue with companies are standard practice. In PES branches in areas with large employers, staff can provide tailored services, such as advising companies or helping manage Short Time Work schemes (STW) during economic downturns (Finn and Peromingo, 2019[7]). In Australia employer services staff engages in reverse marketing to help employers formulate job positions that are not published yet and that employers might not be fully aware they need (Box 3.5).

A particularly effective way for an employment service to establish a partnership with employers is to react in an agile way to their skills needs. In this way, a PES can support the human resource work of employers, and work directly with labour market demand. By ensuring that people are in appropriate employment, and their skills are effectively utilised, employment services can promote productivity and support business expansion (OECD, 2015[9]). Given that skills needs are changing rapidly and people are changing careers frequently in their lifecycle, employment services can play a greater role in matching skills supply and demand and managing career changes.

The Basque Country is taking legislative steps to make accreditation of skills and experiences easier in the region. Special attention can go to recognising and promoting transversal and creative skills as well as digital and language skills. Lanbide co-operates with employers on various initiatives such as skills programmes with work experience components or engagement with employers to change their attitude towards employing young people. Lanbide also develops tracer studies to follow graduate labour market integration, a particularly useful tool to understand labour market dynamics. These could be expanded to support recent graduates on their first job search.

Vocational Education and Training (VET) can play a central role in this process. VET can provide training that guides job seekers directly into jobs based on their pre-existing skills. Lanbide already provides a host of training programmes for different job seeker groups (see section 3.1.5), though international examples offer paths for greater engagement with employers regarding both training and skills use. In Denmark, the regional employment services have framework agreements with trainings institutes for skills training by sectors that are in need of skills or additional certified qualifications. This allows them to offer short, modular trainings that respond to a specific employer requirement (Danish agency for labour market and recruitment, 2017[22]). In Germany, the public employment service offers a more holistic system within their dual education tradition. In particular, the German PES trains specialised staff to assist in the placement of apprentices, working with both employers and new labour market entrants. The service motivates employers to offer more training spaces to young people, so that they can benefit from the school and work in a company. In 2018, 547 000 apprenticeship posts could be acquired, leaving only 9% of the applicants cohort either unemployed or without a matched apprenticeship (Bundesagentur für Arbeit, 2019[23]).

Lanbide is becoming a central labour market actor in the Basque Country. Since its creation in 2008, the Basque PES has registered one of the highest proportions of job seekers in the OECD, while it has embedded itself in a host of relationships with government departments, social partners and labour market actors. Lanbide also accomplishes the major task of administering the Renta de Garantía de Ingresos (RGI), which has been on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis. As a pillar of the region’s social protection system, however, RGI entails a significant amount of staff time, giving Lanbide staff a high caseload compared to OECD averages. In multiple OECD countries, PES are adapting a life course approach to active labour market policies, putting services in places to follow workers and job seekers in increasingly complex work, training and unemployment transitions. To adapt a strong coordinator role of job seekers itineraries, Lanbide could reinforce its digital services, particularly concerning intake and training. Opportunities also exist to reinforce employer liaisons, assisting companies on how to best formulate offers and use job seeker skills.


[21] Australian Government, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (2012), Employment Pathway Fund, Chapter 3, Reverse Marketing, DEEWR, Canberra.

[2] Bernal, I. (2020), Solicitar la renta mínima y RGI: ¿son compatibles?, https://www.elcorreo.com/economia/tu-economia/ingreso-minimo-vital-solicitar-renta-minima-y-rgi-compatibles-20200513162453-nt.html.

[23] Bundesagentur für Arbeit (2019), Geschäftsbericht 2018, https://www.arbeitsagentur.de/datei/geschaeftsbericht-2018_ba044391.pdf.

[13] Bundesregierung Deutschland (2018), SGB III: Ziele der Arbeitsförderung..

[17] Cedefop (2019), Online job vacancies and skills analysis: A Cedefop pan-European approach. Luxembourg: Publications Office., http://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2801/097022.

[22] Danish agency for labour market and recruitment (2017), Methodology manual. Business services. An inspiration for jobcentre managers, Copenhagen., https://www.star.dk/media/3352/methodology-manual.pdf.

[18] de la Rica, S. et al. (2020), Pobrez y desigualdad en Euskadi: el papel de la RGI, https://iseak.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Informe_pobreza_RGI.pdf.

[8] European Network of Public Employment Services (2019), Getting started with digital strategies. A starting guide on creating digital strategies for PES. European Union Publications Office., Luxembourg..

[7] Finn, D. and M. Peromingo (2019), Key developments, role and organization of public employment services in Great Britain, Belgium-Flanders and Germany, ILO Geneva., https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_emp/---emp_policy/---cepol/documents/pub.

[10] G20 Employment Working Group (2015), G20 Labour and Employment Ministers Declaration.

[3] Gabinete técnico de Lanbide (2019), Informe evolución cobertura Renta Garantía Ingresos, Bilbao.

[4] Gobierno Vasco (2017), Plan estratégico de empleo 2017-2020, https://www.euskadi.eus/contenidos/informacion/6199/es_2284/adjuntos/Plan%20Empleo_2017-2020.pdf.

[5] Gobierno Vasco (2016), Estrategia Vasca de empleo 2020, Vitoria-Gasteiz, http://www.bibliotekak.euskadi.net/WebOpac.

[19] Hainmueller, J. and E. al (2011), Do Lower Caseloads Improve the Effectiveness of Active Labor Market? New Evidence from German Employment Offices, http://www.laser.uni-erlangen.de/papers/paper/151.pdf.

[11] ILO (2019), Work for a brither future. Global Commission for the Future of Work, Geneva, https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---cabinet/documents/publication/wcms_662410.pdf.

[6] Lanbide (2020), Información corporativa, https://www.lanbide.euskadi.eus/informacion-corporativa/-/informacion/informacion-corporativa/.

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[15] Ministerio de empleo y seguridad social and EVADES (2018), Informe resumen de la evaluación de los factores que inciden en el desempeñao de Lanbide-SVE.

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[24] OECD (2018), OECD Employment Outlook 2018, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/empl_outlook-2018-en.

[9] OECD (2015), Strengthening public employment services: Paper prepared for the G20 Employment Working Group.

[12] OECD/IDB/WAPES (2016), The World of Public Employment Services: Challenges, capacity and outlook for public employment services in the new world of work, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, D.C., https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264251854-en.

[14] Struyven, L. and L. Van Parys (2016), How to act? Implementation and evolution of the PES conductor role: The Belgian PES in Flanders as a case study, European Union, Brussels.

[16] VDAB (2019), Key Figures 2018, https://www.vdab.be/sites/web/files/doc/trends/kerncijfers-2018-ENG_DEF.pdf.


← 1. Families must be declared households at least one year before application and the residence of applicants in the Basque Country should date back at least three years. The living income complement cannot be allocated to those living in social housing or other public care centres, neither to prison inmates, while benefits apply only for people over 23 years.

← 2. This proportion is calculated using the registered unemployed rate, a subgroup of the total registered jobseekers. Total registered jobseekers usually include other groups like employed jobseekers, active labour market measure participants and other groups not fulfilling the definitions of registered unemployed.

← 3. Changes are adopted through simple majority of the present voting parties. The managing board holds extraordinary meetings and votes in case decisions on specific urgent matters have to be taken before the next regular meeting.

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