A new publication of the European Network of Public Employment Services (PES) explores the topic of ‘dematerialisation’ of services in EU PES – digitalisation of services in the PES context – in terms of assuring access for people with limited opportunities.
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The study argues that it is important to understand the needs of all customers and respond accordingly with a service delivery model that reflects them. The biggest obstacle in the digitalisation process was identified as the lack of skills necessary to make the most of digital services.
To respond to this issue, PES should provide the appropriate training to jobseekers. The resulting skills would have the added value of making jobseekers attractive to employers.
It is equally important to be aware of PES clients’ preferences when defining the approach to service delivery. Some jobseekers are reluctant to use digital services and prefer face-to-face meetings or telephone exchanges with PES. This was evidenced by the rapid return to face-to-face contacts following the reopening of PES offices after the COVID-19 closures.
For these reasons, it is likely that there will never be a fully digitalised service delivery, but a carefully planned dematerialisation process can maximise the level of digital services within a multi-channel delivery system to the benefit of customers and the PES.
The publication is based on detailed input from five PES – Bulgaria, France, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden – which are at different stages of dematerialisation, ranging from those delivering most services virtually to those with a multi-channel service provision. Additionally, the selected PES are of different sizes, covering diverse geographical areas with their associated issues of rurality.
The case study PES identifies the following customer sub-groups as likely to face difficulties with accessing online services:
- People living in remote/rural areas;
- People with limited skills in IT or basic skills;
- People with poor access to IT equipment and internet;
- Non-native speakers with language issues;
- People with physical or mental disability or health issues;
- Young people in remote/rural areas.