Labour markets are becoming more dynamic, volatile and unpredictable, creating a growing number of transitions for individuals to navigate. More than ever, people need support to gain work experience, find career guidance, maintain and develop skills. Private Employment Services provide such support. They empower workers to get their next opportunity, reduce informality, promote inclusiveness and support agility for individuals, businesses and the economy. In short, they make transitions work.
Private employment services are committed to support individuals of diverse backgrounds, ages, skill levels, lifestyles, genders, and capabilities in accessing that first or next job opportunity – with the highest quality and compliance standards. Our industry already started creating new ways of working, learning and providing social protection.
Yet, Private Employment Services cannot do it alone. Labour market professionals seek to further partner with workers, businesses and policymakers at the national, sectoral, regional and international levels to enable prosperity of individuals, businesses and society as a whole. Policymakers need to create the enabling regulatory environment for Private Employment Services to operate. As the International Labour Organisation (ILO) aligns its mandate to the 21st century, the time is right to secure the best labour market support that individuals can get in finding productive and quality work. The World Employment Confederation, the global representative body for private employment services, calls on workers, businesses and government representatives assembled in the ILO to adopt the actions listed below.
Diverse forms of work, including agency work, foster adaptation, inclusiveness and participation into labour markets. Agency work is a recognised form of work that, when appropriately regulated, provides access to quality employment, skilling and social protection. The ILO Convention on Private Employment Agencies (No. 181) stands at the heart of decent labour market matching and secured transitions. It reconciles the need for efficient labour market allocation with the protection of workers. In doing so, it provides and tailors workers' fundamental rights and labour conditions to the triangular employment and recruitment model (within and across borders). This Convention thus provides agency work as a model of a decent form of flexibility. With the increasing number of labour market transitions, policymakers need to create and secure the appropriate regulatory framework to balance workers' and businesses' interest for decent labour market matching. The ILO should significantly increase its efforts for further ratification and implementation of ILO Convention 181.
Managing labour market inclusiveness and transitions should be efficient. Public and private employment services work best when they optimise their collaboration to get people to a job and build on their complementarity. This ensures the focus of public resources on those workers that need it most, while securing access to labour market support for all. In addition, public-private cooperation delivers efficient and cost-effective active labour market policies in a time of strained public budgets. Partnerships do exist already. Yet, such collaboration practices need to be scaled up and their positive outcomes need to be shared more actively. The ILO should support public-private cooperation by dedicating resources, programmes and funds to this end!
The coexistence of diverse forms of work requires to rethink our social protection schemes in order to provide new safety nets to workers. Policymakers and social partners in the ILO should work together to find new solutions for working, learning and providing social protection for all!
A labour market in flux requires adaptability. Labour regulations and protections should facilitate this. In many cases, labour market policies and social structures are too often designed for a 20th century way of working. This leads to unemployment, informality and fiscal risks. Social Innovation is needed to find new solutions for working, learning and providing social protection; solutions that promote labour market participation, inclusiveness, security and employability in a way that aligns with the realities and possibilities of the 21st century labour market. The ILO has a role in guiding social innovation and creating conditions for people to work in different and new ways throughout the course of their life, while having access to new forms of social protection, including on lifelong learning.
"As the organization of work continues to change, social protection systems will need to evolve to deliver continued protection for workers who move between wage employment and self-employment, between different enterprises and sectors of the economy or between countries, ensuring that rights and benefits are accessible and portable, including for those working on digital platforms."
ILO Commission on the Future of Work - 'Work for Brighter Future' - 2019
"Technological advances make alternative work arrangements a viable option for a growing share of jobs and provide opportunities for organising work through contractual arrangements that may bypass traditional employer-employee relationships. Legal safeguards and social protection provisions that were designed around traditional forms of employment may no longer apply to workers with "non-standard" contracts, or not to the same extent."
OECD 2019 Employment Outlook - The Future of Work
"Labour relations and institutions continue to evolve. Certain forms of employment, such as part-time work, temporary employment and third-party agency work, among others, present opportunities for job creation, including self-employment, labour mobility, access to the labour market, and the inclusion of vulnerable and underrepresented groups [...]"
2018 G20 Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting Declaration - Recommendation 13
"Several studies show how training provided by Temporary Work Agencies can lead to good employment outcomes in the longer-term and can improve the productivity of workers. In addition to the training programmes provided directly by Temporary Work Agencies, many OECD countries - such as Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland - have set up dedicated training funds to finance the training of agency workers."
OECD 2019 Employment Outlook - the Future of Work
"Working lives have always involved transitions: school to work, becoming parents, changing jobs, moving into retirement. The challenge of these transitions is compounded by the global transformations under way - technology, demographic shifts and the transition to a low-carbon economy. Supporting people through these transitions will expand their choices and provide the security to cope with change. It will empower people to shape their working lives and societies to harness the demographic advantages in some regions and create lifelong active societies in others. "
ILO Commission on the Future of Work - 'Work for Brighter Future' report - 2019
"The world of work is undergoing significant changes. Technological progress, globalisation and ageing populations are some of the most cited trends shaping the labour market along with efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change. At the same time, new organisational business models and evolving worker preferences are contributing to the emergence of new forms of work that depart from the traditional norm of permanent full-time dependent employment."
OECD 2019 Employment Outlook - the Future of Work