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Data & Digital across LAC Public Employment Services

Project summary

Public Employment Services (PES) are at the core of well functioning labour markets. However, PES around the world are in a difficult position. Labour markets are changing rapidly due to technological and societal developments putting pressure on PES to adapt to the future of work. Digital technologies and the role of data are seen as key ingredients for the successful adaption. 

In this project we assess the current status quo of digital strategy development and use of data in PES across Latin-America and the Caribbean. We identify strengths and opportunities to create (mutual) learning opportunities across the region, facilitate knowledge sharing and create better, more robust PES. To do so, we have developed a maturity framework and used this to collect data from 9 PES (in 2019, more to come in 2020). This serves as input for ongoing learning activities.


Digital technologies play an increasingly important role in societies.  The most prominent of these technologies are driven by the Internet, which has rapidly spread  across the globe since the early 1990s. The Internet has created new channels for service delivery (such as websites and email), has allowed governments to share and centralize data, facilitate collaboration and drastically revise processes and work flows.

The development of information technologies has, obviously, impacted the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region as well. For example, smartphone adoption is expected to increase from 59 percent to 71 percent in 2020 and about half the number of households now have a (broadband) internet connection. Governments across the region are rapidly adopting information and communication technologies as well. The national government of Uruguay, for example, has committed to the digitalization of all services by 2020.

The rapid changes in the technology landscape are also impacting Public Employment Services (PES). On a societal level are technologies disrupting labor markets. This impacts how PES function as labor mediators, executors of ALMPs and suppliers of LMI. As a consequence, PES need to be aware of the strategic consequences of technologies and how digitalization is changing their longer term mission and vision.

To deal with the more strategic implications are PES in general developing digital strategies that help them deal with technologies on the highest organizational level and connect these to societal developments. Below this strategic level are the implications on back-offices and front-offices of PES. In the back-offices of PES are processes increasingly digital and systems increasingly linked. In front-offices do new channels rapidly arrive and do PES need to decide which channels to deploy. These developments also affect the PES organization itself. For example, digitalization forces PES to become more agile, adopt different structures, cultures, and communication processes. Lastly, there is the role of data. PES are increasingly turning into data processing organizations and (big) data is creating new opportunities and challenges for PES. 

The project

These five variables are strongly linked and interdependent: a digital back-office depends on successful digital data inputs in the front-office and the PES organization needs to grow and change with the evolving role of technology. Coordinating these developments and factoring in the broader societal changes is hard without a strategic perspective. In other words; successful PES digitalization depends on the PES ability to manage all five aspects and balance growth in the areas across the organisation.

This leads to a number of questions, such as:

  • What are the key developments in the areas above and how are PES around the world dealing with developments in digital and data?
  • What are LAC PES doing in the areas listed above and to what extent are they developing holistic approaches that help them become successful digital organisations?
  • What are the opportunities for LAC PES to learn from each other, as well as other PES, and are there specific learning areas?

Goal of the project is to find answers to these questions and help the IADB to facilitate knowledge sharing across the region, based on these learning opportunities.

Our role

We provide two services:

  1. Based on the five variables above, we developed a digital strategy maturity framework and assessment. This was used to collect data from 9 PES (in 2019, with more planned in 2020). This allowed us to measure the maturity of PES in different areas, thus quickly identifying a) strengths, b) opportunities and c) similarities between countries.
  2. We support the IADB with the development of interventions for countries, based on the assessments. Furthermore, we assist PES across the region with the development of their digital strategy and development of more holistic approaches towards digital transformation. 

More information & deliverables

  • Keynote about the project at the 2019 International Workforce Development Week at NASWA (also see below)