The Public Employment Service in

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					Public Employment Service, Region Ringkoebing amt, Denmark

The Public Employment Service in Ringkoebing amt, Denmark
AF´s Regulatory and Business Environment etc.
Being the most important instrument in implementing Danish labour market policy, we would
like, initially, to draw attention to the recognized success of this so-called active labour market
policy. Since 1993 the labour market development in Denmark has been characterized by a
continued increase in employment and a corresponding reduction of unemployment.

Fig. 1: The indexed development of unemployment based on international methods chosen



                             140                                                                           Germany

                             120                                                                                     France


                              80                                                                                 England


                               1992             1993             1994            1995    1996             1997             1998

from selected EU countries.

As can be seen, the development in Denmark has clearly been the most positive of all the EU
member states. As we have succeeded in bringing down unemployment very significantly
during a relatively short time without having succumbed to any of the extremes of either a
wage explosion followed by inflation or by ending in a wage proletariat, the Danish model has
become a model for the rest of the EU.

Ringkoebing, being the region experiencing the first and most precipitous decline in
unemployment, and boasting a most harmonious labour market (that is to say, an almost

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Public Employment Service, Region Ringkoebing amt, Denmark
complete balance between supply and demand of labour) has become the region appearing
as the role model of labour market policy in Denmark. The reduction in unemployment has
been especially abrupt in the Ringkoebing region, which has to do with the business structure
of the region: many manufacturing industries and relatively few industries in commerce,
service and the public sector etc. with subsequently strong dependence on economic trends.
Underneath the overall development, however, there have been extremely strong fluctuations
in the employment in the region, especially in the clothing and textile industries, which have
been cut back by approximately 50%.

An interesting feature is that the employment rate in Denmark is much higher than in the rest
of Europe, especially in the case of women. The implications of this fact are many. One of
them is that there is a strong pressure on AF to be able to handle the ups and downs of

In a time of high employment and relatively low unemployment - within certain trades, indeed,
full employment - we balance on a knife-edge, between on the one hand of complying with
the demand for labour, quantitatively as well as qualitatively, and on the other hand to procure
jobs for those whose qualifications are not (at all) in keeping with the actual demands. It is
important to understand the ´environment` in which we work. An ´environment` we of course
have to adapt to but which we have also been quite succesful in ´shaping`, which is a crucial
reason for our success.

As an example we will mention the ´open placement`, a concept which entered AF´s world in
1989, when AF Ringkoebing Amt (AF-RA) opened the first job shop in the country, Job×2000,
and which today is an essential reason why we have managed to approach as close as we
have to a balance between supply and demand, cf. above.

Another example to show that the region seeks to influence the development on a national
level is the adoption of the adult apprentice arrangement. This arrangement was adopted on a
national basis following several years of regional efforts in the county of Ringkoebing. The
arrangement is briefly stated about increasing the the recruitment of adult candidates for the
vocational educations within trades having or expecting a lack of qualified labour. As a
consequence of these efforts Ringkoebing is the region in the whole country with the relatively
greatest number of adults being recruited for vocational educations.

Main objectives
The active labour market policy has two main objectives:
  1. To ensure that the enterprises may get the labour they need, and
  2. That unemployed persons who qualify for unemployment benefit will receive offers of
     employment or education / training which may bring them back into employment.

´Active` means that prevention and activation (as opposed to ´passive` benefit) are the central
priorities. This means that by 2001, all adults will be activated no later than 12 months after
they have become unemployed, and all young persons before 6 months of unemployment.
Therefore, the first special feature to be noticed, is the principle that rights and duties must go
hand in hand.

AF-Ringkoebing one of 14 regonal offices

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Public Employment Service, Region Ringkoebing amt, Denmark
The active labour market policy is primarily implemented by AF which comprises 14 regional
offices and a number of local offices. AF-RA is one region out of 14 in the nationwide AF-
system. The region is constructed of 4 office units placed in Herning, Holstebro, Lemvig and
Ringkoebing, and also two job shops (JOB×2000) in Herning and Holstebro. The region is
managed by a regional manager who is in charge of a management group totalling 8
managers. The region has at the moment some 130 employees divided among a number of
staff categories.

The Total Quality Management Journey.
In the last 10 years AF-RA have been on a journey towards implementing a true Total Quality
Management (TQM) culture. However, when we set out on the journey we did not even know
the TQM concept. In fact, we started by implementing a genuine target and framework
management system - i.e. we delegated as much responsibility and competence to the
individual employees in the organization as possible. And, what is in retrospect more
important: based on an agreement in the joint council committee we published the results
attained by everybody monthly. So, at that stage we formed the mutual trust between staff
and management that is still today one of the major fundamentals of our success.
As a consequence of our having achieved our quantitative goals, it was natural for us to
describe the services delivered and the underlying processes. So in 1992 at a staff
conference it was decided to describe the first key processes and to evaluate the work at the
following conference. It turned out to be a success, and gradually we came to grips with a
more systematic structure of describing processes, quality-levels and measuring points etc.
During this period we established the first version of our quality manual. Again, in retrospect,
a fundamental reason why we have come so far today is that we have sort of built in quality
circles in almost anything we do. I.e. we do not stop at ´planning` and ´doing`. We also
´check`and ´act`.

For instance, we decided in 1993 to test quality management according to the guidelines
described in the ISO 9000 series. This led to the certification in June 1993 of open placement
(termed JOB×2000). Since then we have chosen to maintain this certification, but have not
spread to the rest of the organization. Also we have formalized the creed in the organizational
management: we believe in management by means of values and well defined strategies and
objectives and in respecting customers and partners.

With the emergence of the Excellence model, in a form adapted to public institutions, it was
only natural for AF-RA - fitting in with the above - to reflect our organization in the criteria of
this model. In this way, quality development appears as a cohesive whole contributing to the
creation of a qualified survey of strong points as well as potential areas of improvement.
Working with the Excellence model reached a climax, when in the autumn of 1997 we were
awarded the ´Danish Public Sector Quality Award`. Since then we have been working even
more intensely on the (thoughts behind) the model, so we have come quite a long way. In
February 1999 we submitted an application for the Quality Award of the EFQM, Public Sector.
During the application process the region hosted a site visit and subsequently received a
substantial feedback report indicating our strengths and the areas of improvement. The
numbered score was reported to lie in the interval of 500 and 550 points.

Leadership based on values
In AF-RA we have committed ourselves to a value- and normbased management, where

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Public Employment Service, Region Ringkoebing amt, Denmark

professionalism, quality, commitment, and cooperation / respect are the core values. By
choosing this management form we intend to put the customer at the centre, that is to say,
* Offer services differentiated according to needs.
* Make our customers active partners.
* Adjust expectations among the customers.

It is important to notice that ´management` is not a discipline to be handled independent of its
context. The form of management chosen is therefore an expression of how we think we can
support the mission, vision and strategies of AF-RA in the best suitable way, just as it is
obviously decisive that the form encourages the results of the institution in a broad sense.

But apart from the considerations of effectiveness and efficiency thus lying behind the chosen
form of management, it also implies a democratic attitude demonstrated e.g. in the way we
aim at the maximum delegation of competence and responsibility to employee groups and to
each employee - based on a mutually obliging dialogue. This, we consider to be a
precondition to act ´interactively` in a still more dynamic world. This lays great claims on the
employees, but equally on the management, since traditional (authoritarian) management is
no longer current. AF-RA´s work on value-based management has, by the way, set the
fashion. All AF regions and AMS have begun to work in similar manners. Our region also
contributes in a number of other contexts with its visions and experiences.

The organization is result-oriented.
A natural indredient of everyday life in AF-RA is that we are determined to achieve the results
which we have decided upon. And in this area the Excellence Model has contributed to
increasing our skills to make priorities in such a way as to optimize the result aspects. In table
3 has been shown an excerpt of the result areas applying to AF-RA, and below we shall
explain briefly what is included in each of the activities.

Table 1: The development in AF-RA´s production of open placements, total job orders,
enterprise visits, and individual action plans agreed upon, 1994 - 1998.
               Activity                        1994           1995            1996       1997    1998    1999       %*
  Target fullfillment (%)                      112            113              122       137      126              240
  Target                                      3860            4800            6500       6500     8110             225
  Production                                  4330            5402            7932       8934    10223
Enterprises visited:
                                               94              86              86        101     102      98
  Target fullfillment (%)                                                                                          129
                                              3500            3800            4000       4000    4000    4500
  Target                                                                                                           134
                                              3300            3260            3426       4040    4063    4417
Job placement, notified
vacancies:                                    142              86              118        116    105       90
  Target fullfillment (%)                    8000            11500            8000        9000   9500    10000
  Target                                     11360            9834            9413       10438   9953     9040
Open placement,                                141            112              106       106      102      95      167
notified vacancies:                           6000            7600            8000       9000    10000   10000     120

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Public Employment Service, Region Ringkoebing amt, Denmark
   Target fullfillment (%) 8460     8537     8504        9528      10163      9468
 * Development in planned and production numbers in the years 1994 - 1999 in percentage.

IHP (Individual action plans).
IHP (individual action plans) are mutually binding agreements between unemployed
jobseekers and AF.
The action plan contains an agreed course of activity which the unemployed person must
complete in order to get back to work.

Enterprise visits.
Enterprise visits consist of an AF staff paying a visit to an employer - private as well as public
enterprises - with a view to offering one or more of AF´s services.

Job placement ( notified vacancies).
Job placement concerned with registered vacancies include jobs which the employers notify
to AF to have AF selecting and referring unemployed people for the notified jobs.

Open placement (notified vacancies).
Open placement includes all the jobs presented as vacancies in AF´s job-shops (JOB.2000)
where jobseekers can seek relevant employment at their own initiative. These vacancies are
similarly presented on the internet (

In table 2 are shown AF-RA's natural share of the total national production and the share we
de facto achieved i 1997.

Table 2: AF-RA's share of national production 1999.

                                            Activity                            Achieved share   Natural share

                        IHP                                                              5,1%        4,3%

                        Enterprises visited                                              7,5%

                        Job placement, notified                                          9,6%

                        Open placement, notified                                         7,7%        5,3%

As regards AF, a total productivity objective has been estimated, which briefly described is a
weighed sum of the result key figures being divided by the operational resources of AF. From
table 3 it can be seen that AF-RA improved its productivity with 7 per cent from 1997 till 1998.
Compared with the national average AF-RA´s productivity is 15 per cent higher than the

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Public Employment Service, Region Ringkoebing amt, Denmark
average of the regions as a whole. During both these years AF-RA is the region that has the
highest position in the productivity survey.

Table 3: The development in the productivity index for the years 1997 - 1998

                         Region                                            1997          1998   Developmen

                         Ringkoebing                                        0,71         0,66      - 7%

                         National average                                   1,00         0,80     - 20%

                       Note that a low level indicates a high productivity.
                       Source: The Ministry of Finance 1999.

The results shown above is an indication that the region is highly result-oriented. The main
purpose of these results is, however, that regional labour market political efforts are being
carried through which will work in accordance with AF´s mission, namely:

1) That the enterprises will get the labour they need, and
2) That unemployed people will become employed and thus avoid long-term unemployment.

They sum up the purpose of AF, and they are the main objectives that we pursue.

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