Employment agencies, 2009


Observations for policy

Having a job is a fundamental human need as it allows taking part in the social and economic life. Therefore employment agencies can be considered as an important Service of General Interest (SGI).

Public expenditure cuts triggered by the financial crisis and will impact on issues concerning the quality and accessibility to SGI and most likely on the future provision and maintenance of those services.

Many economic and demographically disadvantaged regions face the risk of becoming even more disadvantaged as a consequence of the budget cuts needed to manage the financial crisis. This could hamper policy ambitions concerning economic, social and territorial cohesion as the gap between rich and poor regions can be expected to increase.

Policy context

The importance given to SGI  reflects the obligation of local and regional authorities in ensuring the provision of public services in accordance with certain standards, particularly in terms of quality, availability, and affordability.

In Europe, active labour policies remain key policies for promoting changes and increasing employment. This is not at least underlined by the Europe 2020 aim that 75 per cent of the working age population (20-64 years) should be in work by 2020.

Map interpretation

The map shows the local units active in employment agencies per 100 000 inhabitants. It is based on the idea that each region shroud possess at least one unit or, depending on the size of the population and labour market, more units providing people easy access to the agency as well as good and qualified assistance. A well-functioning employment agency service is also of interest for economic growth and development.

Overall the number of employment agencies shows medium correlations to GDP per capita, labour market participation rate, unemployment rate and female unemployment rate which in turn confirms their level of importance for the regional economy.

Employment agencies are not exclusively concentrated in urban areas. In some countries there is a great variety of regional supply. The map is largely dominated by national patterns that illustrate the difference in both national approaches and policies related to employment agencies. These can be found in Finland, Estonia, Denmark, Netherlands or the UK, just to name a few.

Concepts and methods

The definition applied to SGI is twofold. On the one hand, it aggregates social services of general interest, including education, health care, housing and social assistance services. On the other, it aggregates services of general economic interest that encompass gas, electricity, postal services, or transport.

There is no differentiation between public and private agencies in the NACE classification. However, private agencies may offer a different kind of services and job offers.