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The Swedish Public Employment Service should improve several components of its Support and Matching service

The rating system that the Swedish Public Employment Service has introduced into its Support and Matching service guides jobseekers to suppliers with comparatively good outcomes. However, the Swedish National Audit Office recommends that the Public Employment Service continue to make improvements in procurements under the Act on Free Choice Systems.

Four hands each hold a piece of the puzzle. Two pieces of the puzzle sit together.

Photo: Christina Sundien

The Swedish NAO has audited the Swedish Public Employment Service’s Support and Matching service, which is procured under the Act on Free Choice Systems. Support and Matching is offered to jobseekers who need extra support in finding a job. As it is a ‘free choice system’ the jobseekers themselves choose the supplier.

“The overall conclusion is that the Public Employment Service in many respects has designed the free choice system for Support and Matching appropriately,” says Auditor General Helena Lindberg.

Among other things, this is because the rating system that the Public Employment Service has introduced helps to steer the participants’ choices towards suppliers with comparatively good outcomes. The probability of finding a job or starting studies for an average participant differs significantly depending on whether they choose a supplier with the highest or lowest rating.

“Suppliers with a higher rating get more participants, and suppliers with a low rating are far more likely to be eliminated from their delivery area. But nevertheless, we see that the rating system needs to be developed," says Jonas Thelander, project leader for the audit.

The Swedish NAO also notes that the Public Employment Service has learned from previous experiences of similar arrangements, such as job coaches and introduction guides, but that there are still clear improvement opportunities.

Among other things, the Public Employment Service fails to ensure that shortcomings in suppliers’ operations are detected and rectified, partly because complaints about the service are not always registered and dealt with. This means that suppliers with shortcomings in their organisation can continue to operate within the Support and Matching system and thereby gain competitive advantages over other actors in the system.

Furthermore, the Swedish NAO considers that the choice of supplier may be difficult for jobseekers with limited knowledge of Swedish since much of the information about the suppliers on the Public Employment Service’s website is only available in Swedish. Thus, they have poorer prospects of making a well-informed choice of a Support and Matching supplier.

The audit also shows that the supplier’s geographical location, i.e. how close to the jobseeker the supplier is located, is an important aspect of jobseekers’ choice. If the choice of supplier is not based on the suppliers’ outcomes, the participant risks getting a poorer quality of service.

Recommendations in brief

The Swedish NAO’s recommendations to the Swedish Public Employment Service include:

  • make it even easier for jobseekers to make a well-informed choice of supplier
  • evaluate the rating system and investigate the possibility of developing it
  • improve and develop monitoring and control of suppliers.

Please see the report for all the recommendations.

Facts: The Swedish Public Employment Service’s Support and Matching service

Since 2010, the Public Employment Service has been able to organise labour market policy initiatives within the framework of free choice systems. This means that the Public Employment Service allows jobseekers themselves to choose which external supplier is to perform the service. Procurement is carried out in accordance with the Act on Free Choice Systems, and all suppliers who meet the basic requirements have the right to be included in the offer addressed to the jobseekers.

Support and Matching is the largest service provided by the Public Employment Service through the Act on Free Choice Systems. Support and Matching can be offered to jobseekers who are deemed to need extra support, and the goal is for the participants to find a job or start studies in the shortest possible time. In 2019, more than 56,000 job seekers participated in Support and Matching and nearly SEK 800 million was paid to the suppliers of the service.

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

Presskontakt: , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.

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Updated: 17 August 2020

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