Public employment services (PES) have evolved through a long and continuing process as a key component of labour administrations, offering a range of complementary and interrelated services to strengthen the functioning of labour markets. These labour market institutions have as their main mandate facilitating the matching of people who are looking for work with enterprises that need qualified workers to fill their job vacancies. The first part of this chapter describes how PES have moved, over nearly a century, from holding a monopoly in this area within most countries to a position of collaboration and partnership with numerous other stakeholders in the labour market. The remainder of the chapter will examine in more detail this shift in how governments are choosing to deliver employment services, considering the main reasons for the changes; providing specific examples of how various models of delivery are currently being implemented in a variety of countries; and discussing key issues drawn from experiences to date. The chapter will conclude with observations regarding these various approaches to providing labour market services. The idea of linking people with jobs has had a long history, dating back to the nineteenth century. Widespread industrialization saw the emergence of labour exchanges on a significant scale, and this process was given renewed impetus by the creation of the International Labour Organization in 1919. The inaugural Washington Conference adopted the Unemployment Convention (No. 2), which advocated ‘a system of free, public employment agencies under the control of a central authority’ in each country, with advisory committees being drawn from both sides of industry.
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