The future of public services: digital jobcentres

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Today’s report, The future of public services: digital jobcentres, sets out the opportunity to transform public employment services in the UK. This paper is the fourth in a series, conducted in partnership with Accenture, which looks at the role technology will play in the future delivery of public services.

Jobcentre Plus – the UK’s public employment service – won plaudits for its performance over the financial crisis, but the story may be different if Brexit triggers an economic slowdown. The introduction of in-work services under Universal Credit will increase demand, while the Work and Health Programme will require jobcentres to take a more central role in the delivery of disability employment support services.

To meet these challenges, jobcentres must make better use of data, starting with the real-time tax information which was introduced in 2013. By merging data on the employment outcomes of former claimants with the tactics used by job coaches to get individuals back into the labour market, policymakers could develop a much richer picture of what works in employment policy – a question we know surprisingly little about.

This presents jobcentres with two opportunities. First, work coaches could use these insights to allocate training budgets more effectively and personalise back-to-work programmes so that the experiences of comparable claimants are reflected. Second, if jobcentres shared this information, they could play a more proactive role in reducing unemployment. Investment decisions, for example, would improve if jobcentres’ rich understanding of local labour market conditions was made available to businesses and educational establishments.