As a result of COVID-19, governments at all levels are facing increasing pressures to address unemployment and ensure that local workers are well prepared for other accelerated labour market transitions, such as automation and digitalisation. This requires efforts to better connect jobseekers and employers; to reskill and upskill workers in declining sectors; and to provide wrap around services to the most disadvantaged job seekers who may now find themselves at the end of the hiring line.
Across the OECD, local authorities have very different tools and powers at their disposal to address these challenges. In some countries, such as Denmark, local authorities are directly responsible for implementing active labour market policies, while in others, these responsibilities lie with regional and local branches of national governments or agencies. Responsibilities for skills policies tend to be even more diffuse, with various ministries and levels of governments playing different roles for vocational training for young people, the unemployed and migrants, for training linked to supports for SMEs, etc. At the local level, this can create a complex landscape for individuals and firms to navigate, and make it difficult to link up programmes to further more strategic local development strategies.
Regardless of how competences are divided across levels of government, there is one power that almost all local authorities share: the power to convene and broker. At the political level, this can mean bringing public, private and third sector stakeholders to a common table to define shared objectives and identify how different policies and programmes can work in tandem to achieve them. At the operational level, this can mean being the first point of contact for individuals and businesses, and then orientating them to appropriate services, or even creating one-stop shops or shared delivery portals to bring the various programmes and policies under a shared roof.
The potential of better leveraging this type of “soft” power should not be overlooked. This webinar considers how local authorities are using this convening and brokering power in different national and institutional contexts, from how to leverage local labour market data to identify challenges and develop a shared vision for community’s future, to how to coordinate services for the most disadvantaged job seekers.
It is organised in two parts:
- In the first part, open to the public, lessons from the OECD’s Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED) programme on how to coordinate action for employment locally will be explored, and local authority representatives will share what this looks like concretely in four diverse regions / cities across the OECD.
- The second part, a closed door session for invited participants from Israel, considers how these international lessons can be applied to the Israeli context. As a highly centralised country, to date, most of the strategic activity for employment and economic development activities has been carried out by national agencies operating locally. Despite being relatively small, Israel is nevertheless characterised by significant socio-economic disparities with a clear spatial dimension. Peripheral areas face a persistent lack of employment opportunities, while the more dynamic centre faces skills shortages and mismatches. The COVID-19 crisis opens a window to reexamine how these challenges are tackled, and the role of local authorities in doing so.