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

Project Name: Virtual Labor Market (VAM)

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The Importance of Technology

How did the technology you used contribute to this project and why was it important?

The developed portal is the core application of the German Labor Agency and consequently needs to fulfil challenging requirements, e.g., high-availability, low response times and support for a very high number of concurrent users. The application currently serves 100,000 users with an average response time of less then 0.5 seconds. In addition, 40 million web pages are delivered daily and the availability of the portal is 99.99% per month.

The application is based on J2EE and is operated on a BEA WebLogic 8.1 cluster supplemented by a cluster of web servers. For persistent storage, an Oracle 9i database with Real Application Clustering is used. The developed technical architecture has proven to be very scalable. During the life-span of the project the number of users has more than doubled compared to the original planning. Adjusting the cluster sizes accordingly was sufficient to meet the changed requirement.

The most important component of the "Virtual Labor Market" -- from functional perspective -- is the match engine ELISE from WCC. Its matching-based search mechanisms optimize the placement process, which is the core task of the BA employees. The fuzzy logic-based matching depends on more than 40 criteria and increases the accuracy of placement targeting between jobseekers and vacancies. At peak time more than 825,000 matches are executed daily.

Another important aspect was the integration of the portal into the application landscape of the German Labor Agency. The application currently has a dozen of interfaces to internal systems, primarily based on existing CORBA infrastructure. The chosen technical architecture allowed for very flexible and smooth system integration.

The Virtual Labor Market is not only state of the art but also extendable enough to be fit for the technical challenges of the future. The software is based on services that are exchanged between the different internal modules of the system and by virtue of this design can easily be integrated into a Service Oriented Architecture.

Integration with external systems, e.g., job exchanges and employers also needed to be considered. The data exchange with third parties is based upon a customized version of the HR-XML standard and the XML documents are transferred between the involved systems via secure file-transfer. The solution enables the German Labor Agency to cooperate with new partners with little effort on both sides. This allows for a two-way exchange of job postings that also helps employers and private placement agencies. As the data exchange thus considerably increases the transparency of the German job market as a whole, all its participants profit from this technology. Private job agents, job seekers and employers alike benefit from the extended reach of job postings and shorter staffing cycles for open positions.

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