Editorial: Labour Market Policy at Street Level

Daniela Böhringer


Since the 1990s the social and labour market policies of many European and non-European countries have seen discussions about a reorientation towards an “activating state” (Dingeldey & Rothgang 2009) and the implementation of corresponding legislation. Although the welfare states have taken different paths in implementing the transformation into an ‘enabling’, ‘activating’, or ‘workfare’ state, an activating labour market policy plays a decisive role in all of these. This means greater individual obligations for claimants. They have to show that they are searching for the agreed job or performing other steps to get back into the labour market, otherwise unemployment benefits will be cut.  Both governmental social services and major welfare associations have been established to help increase employability by implementing, for example, counselling technics, or by “adapting” methods of social work (Dingeldey, 2007). The aim is to build a more personalized service for claimants (Toerien et al. 2013). One demand which is repeatedly made is that employment agencies should offer tailored, individualized services (cf. Toerien et al. 2013, 2011; Bundesagentur für Arbeit 2012; Els & Westerfield 2005). On the other hand an increasing standardization of the placement process can be observed (Bundesagentur für Arbeit 2012). On the level of personal contact between the claimant and his or her personal adviser in the agency, the demand that the service offered should be tailored must be balanced with a standardization of the placement process itself.

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