Type 1: Information Services
Labor Market Information Observatories and Employment Portals (Type 1)
The advent of the computer and internet age has led to important leaps to information systems that can track key employment trends, indicating where jobs, wages and investments are growing. Online labor market information is today still more prevalent in middle-income economies, but they become even more feasible for lower-income economies once basic labor market surveying is in place. Today labor market information systems are more commonly called labor market “observatories” as they are watching employment trends in a given nation. They disaggregate employment trends by sex, age, location, and sector as well as by wage trends. Mexico and Chile have among the more sophisticated online observatories in the developing world. You can find consolidated labor market observatories of job listings and labor market studies online for Syria as well (www.lmo.sy). Less than a decade ago, labor market information would be used only by labor economists to write academic papers on labor market trends. Today’s observatories are put online with more practical purposes in mind - providing job seekers, training and educational institutions with information on employment trends to aid better decision-making in career choices for job seekers and in aligning curriculums and training to areas in which both jobs and wages are growing.
The labor market data to construct observatories typically comes from quarterly or annual labor force surveys, as employment trends change so quickly that census data every ten years is useful only for the broadest trends. It is helpful, but not essential, if a labor intermediation service is the one conducting the surveys, but more often than not, this capacity rightly lies in national statistical institutes. National quarterly labor force surveys are unfortunately not the norm, particularly in low-income developing nations, but should be the goal. With weaknesses in labor force or household survey data, many labor intermediation services draw on business and economic surveys, as well as commission their own specialized surveys through universities or firms. Intermediation services are typically better equipped to survey their users and to conducted specialized surveys. The use of labor market information systems by job seekers, employers, and training and educational institutions is facilitated by another trend: “co-locating” this online data with an employment portal - a website containing online job registers, job-seeking tools and other information for job seekers. Most developing country labor market observatories I know started as separate systems and, when ready, joined forces with employment portals for wider access and impact. Nepal has specialized labor market information focused on foreign employment. The Foreign Employment Promotion Board is “mandated to carry out studies of international labour markets” and to “collect, process and publish information that promote specific jobs” while its parent agency, the Department of Foreign Employment, regulates and licenses recruitment agencies, mostly in the Persian Gulf and East Asia.1
Employment portals are becoming more and more comprehensive in both developed and middle-income developing countries. As just mentioned, they are one central web address or location that hosts a national job register for online job search, but then extend much further with icons and links to other job registries (e.g. private agencies, local business associations), online job search information and training, careerplanning tools, and local labor market information. Poland’s employment observatory contains job availability, wages, career information and hiring expectations.2 Co-location on one web site is the most common format, but advances are taking place. Only a few advanced country systems and industries have converted labor market and career information into one entry portal - that is, with a click on a career or job type you can see the trends in the career, job types that lead you through a career path, and available job vacancies corresponding to that career path. New Zealand’s career development system (careersnz.com) and that of the Hospitality Guild of the United Kingdom are the wave of the future!