Work and Pensions CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Monster Government Solutions UK

Summary

1. This submission is made by Monster Government Solutions UK, and provides a perspective in particular on the specific inquiry question relating to the implementation of Universal Jobmatch (UJ). These responses do not represent the views of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), but the perspectives and ideas presented should be consistent with DWP’s mission to move UK jobseekers off benefits and into sustainable work and careers in the shortest timeframe appropriate to the needs of the individual.

2. Through the introduction of Universal Jobmatch, DWP is attempting to deliver a service to jobseekers and employers that uses digital means to speed up the process of matching seekers with suitable positions. The volumes of people using the service are very large which points to a service that is usable, but the evidence that demonstrates empirically that seekers are finding work more quickly directly as a result is not available to Monster at this time.

3. There are a number of ways in which DWP could look to enhance Universal Jobmatch in order to maximise its impact over time, and some of these are outlined at a high level in the document below.

About Monster Government Solutions

4. Monster pioneered the business of digital recruiting in 1994, and today we are the only online recruiter servicing customers on a truly global basis. Monster Worldwide is present in 50 countries, generating revenues of £1.6 billion.

5. We have been supporting employers and job seekers for almost twenty years, and have expanded from our roots as a “job board” to a worldwide provider of job seeking, career management and recruitment services. At the heart of our success is innovation: we change the way people think about work, and help them improve their lives and their workforce performance with new technology, tools and practices.

6. Monster Government Solutions (MGS) is focused solely on public sector workforce and economic development and employment. Last year MGS delivered products and services to Local Authorities, Central Government, Charities, Housing and the Armed Forces, as well as more than 800 government customers in state, county, and the US Federal government.

About Universal Jobmatch

7. Universal Jobmatch provides jobseekers and employers with an online tool, enabling them to post, search and apply for jobs remotely rather than contacting their local Jobcentre. Launched in November 2012, Universal Jobmatch uses Monster’s job matching capabilities, whereby based on the information provided by job seekers (eg personal profiles, CVs), the system will find appropriate job matches and invite seekers to apply. The solution uses Monster’s 6sense semantic search engine, which rather than performing a simple word-count analysis, can understand the context of an individual’s skills and experience and match them with suitable opportunities. For the employer, they can load and search for candidates, and be presented with results that are scored on their relevance to the search, therefore providing them with a higher quality pool of results that will result in a speedier recruitment fulfilment process.

8. The system allows jobseekers to:

Create a personalised account where they can upload or create their CV.

Receive ongoing job matches to their profile, or their specified job search criteria.

Run “one off” job searches if they have not created an account.

Identify skills gaps and be signposted to information on increasing their skills.

Apply for jobs online, or send their CV to an employer through the service.

Record any additional activities they have carried out to look for work.

9. For employers, it provides:

A free vacancy matching online recruitment service.

A service available via GOV.UK, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The ability to manage their own vacancies without the need for Jobcentre Plus intervention.

The ability to post specifications online to test the likely response to a job by matching to the pool of candidates.

Functionality to invite jobseekers to apply for their vacancies online, and a service that will fully manage their recruitment needs.

10. The employer service provided as part of Universal Jobmatch includes tools that will both shorten the time to fill vacancies, but also provide employers with closer candidate matches to their requirements, which will deliver a more sustainable recruitment process. Through the use of a semantic search engine, Universal Jobmatch provides employers with a view of suitable candidates, automatically scoring them across a range of criteria, including skills and other relevant background information. This expedites the employer’s selection process, and provides them candidates who more closely match their specifications than by using traditional recruitment processes.

11. For Jobcentre Plus staff, the service:

Enables advisers to check the jobseeker’s account history, view actions against matches and employer feedback, review application history and any highlighted skills gaps.

Frees time to help jobseekers to optimise CVs, identify skills gaps and make best use of the automated job search and matching service.

Frees time to concentrate on helping jobseekers and the “harder to help” customers.

Provides improved management information to help target support for employers and jobseekers.

Provides information on local skills shortages identified from the vacancies that have not received matches.

The service is supported by a Service Desk, provided by Monster, to assist users with technical issues.

Jobcentre Plus’s (JCP) Effectiveness in Matching Jobseekers to Suitable Job Vacancies through the Introduction of Universal Jobmatch

12. Since the launch of Universal Jobmatch in November 2012, the success of the service has been characterised by usage volumes that have grown beyond all expectation. At the time of writing, the volumes are as follows:

2.99 million registered jobseekers.

815,000 active jobseekers.

An average of 498,000 visitors to the site per day (March–May 2013).

An average of 98,000 new jobseeker accounts created per week (March–May 2013).

413,000 registered employers.

60,000 active employers.

42 million average job searches per week.

Over one billion page views since the service went live.

1.88 million new jobs advertised.

13. At the time of writing, from Monster’s perspective there is insufficient qualitative data to provide firm evidence of the impact of Universal Jobmatch on the job seeking process. DWP has yet to gather a suitable data sample to provide such analysis. This was confirmed by the Employment Minister Mark Hoban the MP recently, in response to written questions from the House, as he noted “data regarding the number of job outcomes that have been achieved through the Universal Jobmatch service are not collected, and so it is not possible to provide this.”

14. Anecdotal evidence suggests that DWP staff prefer using Universal Jobmatch over the old system, however a statistically valid study to confirm this does not exist at this point.

The impacts of benefit reforms, including: the implications for JCP staff roles of the implementation of Universal Credit, including the skills staff will need in order to offer effective in-work support; changes to staff roles brought about by the move to “digital by default”; and plans to support claimants affected by the benefit cap.

The Impact of Benefit Reforms

15. The Day One service of Universal Jobmatch provides DWP with a platform from which they can build and exploit the full range of digital service delivery options available, to support the “Digital by Default” agenda. It provides an opportunity for DWP to integrate in future with Universal Credit and to build on the growing UJ user base; by the time UC is rolled out nationally, a large proportion of the active users should be confident in the use of an online tool, and will be comfortable in navigating the digital journey that UC will bring. By providing a solution in Universal Jobmatch that automates what was previously a highly manual process, DWP advisers will be able to spend more time with claimants focussing on their needs, and drawing on the skills and experience of the advisors. This then brings to the fore the skills of the DWP advisers, and enables them to perform the functions they were employed to, rather than spending valuable time carrying out low-level tasks. .

Maximising Universal Jobmatch

16. We believe that there are a number of ways in which the DWP could build on the initial deployment of Universal Jobmatch to help maximise the capabilities available to them and the benefits they could bring to jobseekers, employers and DWP operations. These are as follows:

Analysis of job search activity and behaviour

17. Universal Jobmatch provides a rich and growing seam of data on both jobseekers and employers that should be leveraged. There are opportunities for DWP to use this data to help shape the service for the future and to provide a more strategic and sustainable resource. From the postings that are logged in Universal Jobmatch it would be possible to analyse:

The industries that are recruiting.

The occupations that are in demand.

The skills that are required.

The regions in which these skills are needed.

The qualifications needed to fill these positions.

18. Indeed to take this further, the Department increasingly has sources of raw data available in near real time as to the state of the employment marketplace. These could be mined and analysed to understand the trends about claimants searching and applying for jobs, as well as employers posting vacancies and the interplay between the skills offered and the skills required. It should be noted that any analysis work undertaken would adhere to the provisions of the Data Protection Act.

19. Analytical techniques applied to this data set would shed light on:

Whether claimants are looking for jobs that progress their careers;

The trends and correlations which exist between skills, job search behaviour, geography, current employment(s), career aspirations;

The trends and correlations which exist between the types of vacancies employers post and the types of job that claimants are looking for, split by dimensions such as income, geography, skill level;

Whether job vacancy types and volumes correlate to the provision of training opportunities, apprenticeships, further education courses and jobseeker career aspirations;

Which interventions during job seeking activities provide the most consistent improvements in speed-to-recruit for employers;

The level of matches between jobseeker aspirations and the employment market in an area or region;

The combinations of characteristics and factors which drive in-work claimants most successfully to increase their working hours and income

Enhancing the jobseeker’s experience

20. We believe that the DWP has a key role to play in enhancing the jobseeker’s experience by nudging and supporting jobseekers and benefit claimants during the job application process. Whilst this represents a shift away from a Department whose core purpose has traditionally been to pay benefits, it also signifies an opportunity for the DWP to play a key role in encouraging its customers to move into sustainable and developmental employment.

21. Accordingly, the use of technology need not be restricted to the process of matching jobseekers to vacancies. It has a far greater role to play in supporting jobseekers’ decision-making and minimising the proportion of jobseekers that drop out during the job application process. For example, UJ technology could be upgraded to:

Automatically send jobseekers a calendar invitation for important activities, such as adviser meetings, job interviews and networking events.

Make it easy for jobseekers to find travel information ie by linking job search sites with integrated travel sites.

Make it easy for jobseekers to find local childcare facilities which fit in around the working hours of the jobs they are looking for.

Send jobseekers reminders about job interviews, such as text messages/emails/social media alerts.

Connecting jobseekers to others who have had or maybe having similar experiences.

22. These types of interventions need not be expensive. They are digital interventions that augment the existing offline interventions and processes that the Department’s advisers use on a day-to-day basis. The fact that they are digital means that it is relatively easy to pilot them and, if the Department desires, to conduct randomised controlled trials to test the efficacy of different combinations on job outcomes.1

Career Profiling

23. The Department has a great asset: the CVs of its claimants. Analysing this data can provide information about the actual career paths that have been taken by actual claimants. Bearing in mind the provisions of the Data Protection Act, there is still data processing that can be done to produce anonymised career profiles and career paths, which can then act as guides or examples to future claimants.

24. This approach is known as “career profiling”, and has been used successfully in other countries and by commercial businesses. It supplements services such as the National Careers Service because it would be built upon DWP information and tailored for the use of DWP claimants (potentially both in-work and out-of-work claimants). Indeed this could be a valid extension of the National Careers Service’s “Lifelong Learning Account”, sending targeted guidance on learning opportunities.

Virtual Careers Fairs

25. For a large proportion of both the working and job seeking communities, attending careers fairs is likely to be an unfamiliar and potentially daunting prospect. It also brings logistical challenges and travel costs, which make attendance tricky—in particular for in-work claimants who may have a full diary of work and caring commitments.

26. By providing online access to dedicated Virtual Careers Fairs, claimants can explore and access a wide range of industry, career, employer and role-specific information giving access to industry expertise and advice. Virtual Fairs can provide the look and feel of a particular employer’s workplace including branded “reception” areas providing links to jobs, material for download, videos, access to live chat and the ability to upload CVs and other information.

27. For those claimants who are digitally excluded, there could be a role for DWP advisors in the job centres to play in helping claimants to use Internet Access Devices for example to register for and use the Virtual Careers Fairs.

28. The benefits of a Virtual Careers Fair include:

Time and cost savings for both seekers and employers.

National reach providing extended brand awareness for employers.

24/7 access from any location for the duration of the fair.

Multi-channel options for contact between candidates and prospective employers.

Access to multiple forms of advice, support and training.

Option to share content via social media to boost visibility for employers.

29. Virtual career fairs would provide cost effective ways for large volumes of claimants (both in-work and out-of-work) to explore career opportunities with real employers. The digital nature of these events also provides the option, if appropriate, for the Department to record attendance and time spent by claimants engaging in career-enhancing activity.

Conclusion

30. Anecdotal evidence from employers, Jobcentre advisors and job seekers suggests that Universal Jobmatch provides a significant improvement over legacy systems and processes. The success of the service is therefore something which both DWP and Monster should look to build on. The balanced armoury of interventions that we propose does not require big investments in unproven methods. It provides techniques for both claimants and employers at all points along the process, which can be used to support income growth, job sustainability and skill development at every level.

31. Universal Jobmatch provides DWP with new, accurate and accessible data sources around the behaviours and needs of jobseekers, employers and DWP advisers. The ability for DWP to take this data and use it to inform how well their processes are performing and how quickly jobseekers are moving off benefit and into work will depend on the extent to which DWP chooses to exploit this data. A strategy and roadmap for the future development of Universal Jobmatch is required to ensure that DWP’s objectives in this area will be met.

32. The introduction of Universal Jobmatch allows the automated service to take on some of the more manual, labour intensive tasks that previously DWP advisers would need to undertake. The process of assessing a claimant’s skills and experience and then manually searching for suitable jobs has been if not been removed completely, certainly significantly streamlined since the arrival of Universal Jobmatch. This allows advisors to spend more of their time with claimants bringing their knowledge and experience of the local job market to bear, which should help drive more successful and sustainable job outcomes over time, which is key. The operational savings that will be generated as a result of higher levels of productivity will clearly be of benefit to DWP, the Treasury and the UK taxpayer, but the longer-term ability of DWP to encourage jobseekers to commit to and engage with a future career path has the potential for the unlocking of much wider-reaching benefits to society in general.

24 May 2013

1 See Test, Learn, Adapt: Developing Public Policy with Randomised Controlled Trials, Cabinet Office Behavioural Insights Team in collaboration with Ben Goldacre and David Torgerson, June 2012.

Prepared 27th January 2014