Please note: Due to the coronavirus, the project has been immediately suspended until further notice.
When someone becomes unemployed or faces the prospect of unemployment, the first step is often to register with a regional job centre (public employment services or PES), where they will be assigned a caseworker. Following an in-depth initial consultation, meetings are then held at a regularly basis. In Switzerland, more than 120 regional PES centres conduct over 1.5 million meetings between caseworkers and job seekers of this kind every year.
Caseworker meetings play a key role in active labour-market policy. Depending on their standard and frequency, they can help focus job seekers’efforts and keep motivation levels high. Caseworkers advise them first on rules and regulations, while later testing whether they meet the specified job-search requirements (eligibility criteria). In Switzerland, further measures such as training courses or internships can be taken in these meetings.
Against this backdrop, a research project has been initiated by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) to systematically find ways to improve the quality of these meetings.
The project was initiated by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) on behalf of the Swiss Unemployment Insurance. Public employment services (PES) are operated at the cantonal level. The Swiss cantons have therefore closely cooperated in the project’s development.
The project will last from 2020 to 2022. It consists of two related experiments (“field tests”), one focused on qualitative aspects of caseworker meetings, the other focused on available resources for such meetings.
The first field test is designed to improve the quality of the meetings between caseworkers and job seekers. Caseworkers participate in training sessions which are combined with video-based behavioural coaching. Previous studies suggest three success factors: offering a clear way forward, providing cooperative support and activating job seekers’resources.
Based on a random selection half of the caseworkers participates first, with the other half receiving the training at a later point. The project is closely followed and evaluated by a team of independent researchers. As part of the evaluation, both job seekers and caseworkers will receive repeated questionnaires and the video recordings of the case-worker meetings will be analysed. Learn more about data protection below.
The project involves regional PES centres from the cantons of Basel-Stadt, Fribourg, Geneva, Graubünden, Schaffhausen, St. Gallen, Thurgau, Vaud and Valais.
The second field test provides regional PES centres with additional resources to roughly double the number of caseworker meetings for a (randomly) selected group of job seekers. The intention is to give caseworkers time and space to develop their ability to provide individual and development-oriented support to job seekers. The additional meetings are not used to monitor job search requirements.
The project is closely followed and evaluated by a team of independent researchers. They examine the extent to which these resources contribute to supporting rapid and durable reintegration. As part of the evaluation, both job seekers and caseworkers will receive repeated questionnaires and the video recordings of the case worker meetings will be analysed. Learn more about data protection below.
Regional PES centres from the cantons of Basel-Land, Bern, Lucerne, Obwalden and Nidwalden, Solothurn and Zurich are participating in the project.
As part of the two field tests job seekers and caseworkers are asked to take part in an online survey.
- Survey at the initial interview
- Survey after 3 months
- Survey after 6 months
- Survey after de-registration
- Survey after rapid de-registration
- Survey for job seekers following a recorded interview
- Survey for caseworkers following a recorded interview
Note that participation in the survey is voluntary. The survey uses the internal identification number (job seeker ID) as an alias instead of contact data such as name or email address. This enables SECO to recombine survey answers with its own registry data. Any evaluation and analysis will be completely anonymous. Further information on use of the survey data can be found in the corresponding regulations (PDF, 541 kB, 04.03.2020) (available in German).
The project aims to improve and enhance the meetings between caseworkers and job seekers. Issues relating to data protection arise in two situations, each of which is subject to separate regulations:
- Regulations (PDF, 628 kB, 09.03.2020) on the handling of video recordings from the meetings
Please note that no hidden video recordings are made. Before any video recording, written consent must be obtained from the job seeker and the caseworker. This consent is voluntary and can be withdrawn at any time, without any consequences.
- Regulations (PDF, 541 kB, 04.03.2020) on the handling of survey data (available in German)