Employment policies keep presenting formidable challenges to policymakers and governments, especially due to their intersections with industrial and innovation policies in the context of longer-term structural transformations. Today, employment policy actions and reforms are urgently called for to stimulate job creation and ensure sustainable job-rich growth, encouraging and matching labor market needs for existing and new skills, while preventing a build-up of social and fiscal costs in the longer term.
From an employment perspective, a focus on sectors with proven potential for job creation, such as the green economy, health and social care sectors, and ICT industry look both well-timed and necessary. Such a consideration, however, must be accompanied by the introduction of horizontal structural reform measures in labor markets, as well as by specific investments in new skills generation mechanisms, which need to be brought about through improved synergies between the worlds of education and work, addressing skills mismatches and targeting in particular youth unemployment. Moreover, the development of innovative partnerships between government employment bodies, private actors (e.g. employment or recruitment agencies), and the social sector, aiming at building efficient supply and demand coupling mechanisms, seems also necessary.
Consulting support in all above areas should be rich and multifaceted, or highly selective and focused, and mainly focus on:
- Addressing the huge skills miss-matching through measures that develop effective synergies between the worlds of education and work;
- Supporting governments to effectively use financial instruments for job creation and combating unemployment;
- Designing and supporting youth guarantee schemes and youth mobility programs aiming to tackle the dramatic levels of youth unemployment;
- Promoting and supporting employees through the development of self–employment, social enterprises and business start-ups, targeting groups with the greatest potential and fostering cooperation between employment services, business support, and finance providers;
- Introducing new processes and schemes for combating undeclared employment and social contributions evasion;
- Supporting the modernization and capacity building of government bodies with a mandate to promote employment and combat unemployment;
- Supporting the building of partnerships between labor market actors.
The Healthcare sector currently faces two main challenges: a) an increasingly aging population, and b) the sustainability of the national healthcare systems.
The increase in life expectancy is a fact and, in consequence, a rapidly expanding population group is susceptible to suffer from specific diseases linked to aging. This fact will have an undoubted effect on the sustainability of modern society and healthcare systems.
Currently, the cost of the healthcare sector is not sustainable, and therefore new ways to more efficiently and effectively use the limited resources must be found. In addition, the economic crisis has led to reductions in both public and private spending and has restricted access to health care services while increasing inequalities.
Consultants are called to support Governments to ensure the economic viability of National Healthcare Systems, as well as to design and support reforms of the latter so that sector challenges and improvement of both effectiveness and efficiency are addressed. Such a mandate for Consultants should aim at:
- Strengthening Planning, Budgeting and Monitoring Systems to all Health units;
- Supporting the introduction of modern Purchasing systems – Centralization of Procurement processes;
- Designing and supporting control measures for Pharmaceutical Spending;
- Determining National Strategies for Health Insurance;
- Designing Improvements in Primary and Secondary Healthcare Services;
- Improving the organization, management, coordination, monitoring, and effectiveness of the mental health system;
- Developing and introducing quality systems in hospitals and primary health care, as well as systems for the evaluation of the effectiveness and efficiency of the whole sector and its actors;
- Promoting and supporting information technology and e-health services.
Governments are faced with the daunting challenge of restructuring their maturing social security systems and adapting them to economic, social, demographic changes and evolving fiscal policies. Many countries with growing numbers of older people are planning to gradually increase retirement ages and extend the working lives of their citizens. Historical pension commitments made by governments may also challenge the present and future fiscal sustainability, particularly when public expenditures on old-age pensions must be balanced against increasing governmental responsibilities for providing healthcare, education, and promoting employment, all essential to the development of future generations.
In response to the above challenges, the social security sector must undergo hard, complex and innovative policy decisions, so that secure financial sustainability for the next decades is ensured. In this context, Consultants should be called to support policy reforms in Social Security systems, assist Social Security Organisations to upgrade their systems’ operational effectiveness by adopting best-practices and re-designing their critical processes, e.g. for minimizing contributions evasion, providing quality customer care, improving claims collection and processing, optimizing their procurement and logistics functions.