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Effectiveness of a Job Vacancy Referral Scheme

04 nov. 2016 — J. Bollens - B. Cockx


As in many other countries, also in Flanders, the public employment service makes use of vacancy referrals in order to facilitate the matching between unemployed workers and vacancies. In this report we evaluate the effectiveness of this policy. We differentiate between three treatment types: (1) referrals, in which case the match is supervised by a caseworker, who also contacts the unemployed worker by phone or by e-mail; (2) automatic referrals, where there is no caseworker intervention and matches are made by matching software; (3) invitations, where the unemployed worker is invited for a meeting at the PES. As result of this meeting either or not a referral will follow. Here we look at the effect of obtaining an invitation as such, whether it is followed by a referral or not.

We use a sample of 12 983 unemployment spells that started in 2007. In order to identify the treatment effect, we use a 'timing of events'-approach. This approach allows to distinguish between the treatment effect on the one hand, and selection on un-observables on the other hand. We find large and significant direct effects of the exit to employment in the month in which the treatment is given and in the subsequent month. These effects are positive for the three treatment types, although the effect for a referral is the largest, and the effect for an automatic referral is smallest, while the effect of invitations is situated in between. Also the long term effects on the exit to employment are substantial for the three treatment types. An explanation could be that the treatments serve as a job search monitor device, alert the unemployed workers that the PES is following them and is expecting them to keep investing in their job search.

These results are interesting, especially given the fact that the cost of this treatments is relatively small when compared with e.g. (vocational) training programs for the unemployed. There are some avenues for further research. One interesting extension would be to remove the right censoring when a second treatment occurs, and modelling the effect of a second treatment and of subsequent treatments.


Bollens, J., & Cockx, B. (2016). Effectiveness of a Job Vacancy Referral Scheme (WSE Report 2016 nr. 02). Leuven: Steunpunt Werk en Sociale Economie / Leuven: HIVA, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven / Gent: SHERPPA, Universiteit Gent

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