Honors Program: Germany's Labor Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit)

Project Name: Virtual Labor Market (VAM)

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Introductory Overview

As part of the reform process involved in implementing the Virtual Labor Market, BA's organizational structure was reformed and restructured with the goal of improving process efficiency and ensuring high quality of standards and delivery for the agency's customers. The implementation of the Virtual Labor Market was closely connected with the Hartz' labor market reforms on the one hand and the concept of the "Customers' Center of the Future" on the other hand.

Taking into consideration the organizational aspects of the Hartz' reforms the business processes and responsibilities of the different divisions within the BA completely changed. As part of these organizational changes, BA was separated into two different divisions (SGB II and SGB III). Both divisions strive to integrate unemployed workers either in the primary or the secondary labor markets through applying criteria and objectives designed to meet these goals. The challenge for the Virtual Labor Market project was to map all varying business processes involved with an integrated IT system and to set up public access to information and services over the internet and over self-service facilities in the agencies.

An additional feature was the introduction of the "Customers' Center" which was created through the restructuring of various internal processes, addressing the issue of an unpredictable number of unemployed through BA's offices. The purpose of this was to provide a consistent service to the public irrespective of which office of the agency was contacted or how; by personal contact, via phone or via intranet.

The implementation of the Virtual Labor Market started in March 2003, with the final part of the implementation completed in June 2006. The system is now available in over 1,500 branches of the BA for more than 100,000 internal users generating over 40 million page hits per day.

The separation of the BA organizational structure into two labor markets resulted in a wider range of complex business processes being created. In turn, the concept Customer's Center has separated the employees into different user groups within BA's call centres and offices. The agencies themselves are divided into different areas of responsibility like the placement service, career counselling and the medical and psychological services. The new system is designed to support all the organizational units and to take into account all the varying needs and processes of the different user subgroups. It holds data on job seekers and employers such as customer and company profiles, placement recommendations and job applications. It also supports the integration of documents and the planning of training and education measures. In addition to the processes for finding vacant positions that match the individual's education and skill profile with a companys business needs, the day to day work of the agencies' employees is supported by features such as the automated assessment of the customers employment status. This in turn helps to reduce the administrative overhead and enabling BA's employees to concentrate on their core job focus; helping the unemployed get jobs and cultivating relationships with employers.

German society benefits from these internal improvements of its biggest public authority. The main benefit is the reduction of time taken to fill vacancies with the most appropriate candidate supported by an intelligent and innovative matching technology and one centralised database containing details of job openings nationwide. By using modern technology in line with the demand of the German labor market, BA employees can act in a more efficient and customer-specific manner in order to serve jobseekers, employers and the nation's economy to best effect.

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