Logotype The Swedish NAO

The Swedish Public Employment Service's job matching: weak knowledge base and inadequate governance

The Swedish Public Employment Service (PES) is to bring together jobseekers and employers. The Swedish NAO’s audit shows that the matching activities carried out by PES have never been systematically evaluated and rests on a weak knowledge base. This increases the risk of jobseekers not receiving equivalent support.

Person gets help at a counter at the Swedish Public Employment Service.

Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

To ensure effective and equivalent service throughout the country, the Public Employment Service has developed several methods for matching job seekers with employers.

The Swedish NAO’s audit shows that these methods rest on a weak knowledge base. They were already questioned at the time of their development more than ten years ago, and since then only few evaluations have been made of their effects. Nor have any new methods been developed since 2010.

“The Analysis department of the Swedish Public Employment Service is responsible for ensuring that activities are based on facts and thorough knowledge. But the department has not been involved in developing the Employment Service’s working methods,” says Tommi Teljosuo, project leader for the audit.

The audit also shows that employment officers often choose other working practices than the centrally developed methods. But the Employment Service has no overall picture of which methods and practices are used or how effective they are.

“The Swedish Public Employment Service has no accumulated knowledge of how employment officers work on matching, nor has it evaluated the effects of different working practices,” says Tommi Teljosuo.

The Swedish NAO’s assessment is that this is partly due to the Employment Service’s choice of governance model, where responsibility for methods and working practices has been delegated far out in the organisation. It provides good conditions for local adaptation but means that jobseekers risk receiving a varying standard of service depending on which employment office they apply to.

“We do not criticise the choice of governance model but note that the Public Employment Service does not manage its inherent risks satisfactorily,” says Auditor General Stefan Lundgren.

The Swedish NAO also notes that the Employment Service does not systematically follow up labour market assessments of jobseekers. This means that jobseekers may be assessed differently by different employment officers without this being discovered.

“Assessments are a central part of matching activities and need to be conducted correctly so that the jobseeker’s time in unemployment is as short as possible. This is so important that we consider that it should be followed up by the Government,” says Stefan Lundgren.

Recommendations

The Swedish NAO makes the following recommendations to the Swedish Public Employment Service:

  • develop follow-up of working practices used,
  • review the use of analysis resources to evaluate and develop methods,
  • ensure that labour market assessments are effective and equivalent.

The Swedish NAO also recommends the Government to follow up the Swedish Public Employment Service activities concerning labour market assessments.

Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.

Presskontakt: , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.

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Updated: 09 September 2019

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