European Public Employment Services (PES) and its employees are facing fundamental challenges to the delivery of efficient and effective services and need to change their strategies to combat rising unemployment and demographic change. The matching paradigm, which requires that individuals are matched to the best fit jobs, no longer has universal credibility. In periods of high unemployment, when job vacancies are few, this practice paradigm is of limited value. Customers/clients are frustrated that it is increasingly difficult to get a job from their PES and PES practitioners feel disempowered, because it is harder to get their customers/clients into a job. PES practitioners need new paradigms for practice, which conceptualise labour market information differently, for example, by making use of ‘Big Data’ (e.g. through use of visualisation tools for local, regional and national labour market information).
Career adaptability, defined as the ability to manage successful transitions in employment, training, education and other contexts, consistently across the life-course is increasingly seen as a key part of the solution to these challenges.
However, supporting the development of career adaptability in the customers/clients of PES requires PES practitioners (1) to enhance their own career adaptability and, linked to this, (2) to transform their own individual and collective professional identity. Such a transformational process is a complex and continuous learning process that needs a holistic, technology-enhanced approach to facilitation and support of PES providers and their staff.
Professional identity consists of many different elements that interrelate. First of all, professional identity has an individual and a collective dimension, and for individuals it is linked to other aspects of their personal identities, relating to other life roles. Identity encompasses work activities and work organisation, the relationship with other professions, and the professional culture as well as processes of becoming part of the profession.
Aim and Objectives
The aim of the project was to support PES practitioners and their organisations in engaging actively in professional identity transformation processes via facilitating the following objectives:
Reflecting/revisiting their experiences as "perspective taking and perspective making";
Networking/participating in wider communities and engage with others in the co-construction of their new professional identities;
Diffusing lessons learned, especially through new approaches such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and creating of structures;
Adopting new skills set, with a focus on facilitating the learning of others in a move from traditional supervision-based models to peer-models of intervision (i.e., strengthening the role of peers through peer coaching);
Measuring, collecting, analysing and reporting data about practitioners and their diverse contexts in order to optimise learning about the processes of identity transformation across Europe and to link identity transformation to organisational performance (and existing performance measurement systems).
EmployID was set up to deliver comprehensive, sustainable, and cost-effective support for the facilitation of professional identity transformation as a complex and continuous learning process, on an individual, organisational and European network level using a holistic tool suite combining and linking eCoaching, reflection, MOOCs, networking, analytical and learning support tools, leading to improved individual and organisational performance on employment counselling.
The project helped PES practitioners to increase their efficiency and effectiveness by adapting to rapidly changing pressures and demands. It also supported PES organisations in effectively managing the up-skilling of their staff and delivery of key aspects of their services.
The EmployID tool suite was based on open source solutions and included tools for supporting reflection, peer coaching, networked learning, identity development, and measuring impact. PES across Europe were the main beneficiaries, but the ideas were applicable beyond these organisations.
In terms of training and capacity building special training material was made available for PES practitioners as well as IT providers of PES. A series of high quality MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) were a key part of the EmployID offer and the source materials are available in an open source format via the EmployiD academy.
A comprehensive and empirically validated indicator framework for PES organisations adaptable to their needs was also developed to support the development of a performance improvement culture in PES.
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