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"LinkedIn can complement the  employment service"
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"LinkedIn can complement the employment service"

| Text: Gunhild Wallin

“We must improve matching in the labour market, and the employment service needs help from other players to do this. LinkedIn could play an important role in a well functioning labour market,” says Sweden’s Minister for Employment, Ylva Johansson.

It is Friday afternoon at the end of January, and Ylva Johansson has just come out of a meeting with leaders from the global professional networking service LinkedIn. Over one and a half hours they have covered many issues, including labour market trends and matching.

“LinkedIn is an interesting and modern player when it comes to matching in the labour market. We face great challenges with improving matching. People move around more, matching happens more often and this is good. I wish there was even more mobility and even more matching in the labour market, but it is very clear that right now the Public Employment Service cannot deal sufficiently with these demands,” says Ylva Johansson.

“My vision is that the employment service can work with other players who work with matching to create a well functioning labour market, and in this context I believe LinkedIn could play an important part.”

332 million members

LinkedIn was officially founded in 2003 and now counts 332 million members worldwide. In October 2014 the number of Swedish members passed two million and there are three million members in the other Nordic countries. The company will shortly be presenting membership figures for each country. Members use LinkedIn to publish their CVs, create networks, follow the companies which interest them and to gain access to articles relevant to their profile.  

Businesses use the professional network for marketing, but also to showcase themselves as potential employers, for instance by creating special career pages. LinkedIn can also offer businesses special solutions which make it easier to attract and find the right talent. One such solution is to maximise their search for new staff and to match them with LinkedIn’s members worldwide.

“An ordinary job advert reaches those who are looking for a job, but here the employer also gets in touch with people who aren’t actively reading the ads. This creates a much bigger reach,” says Anoek Eckhardt, LinkedIn’s communications manager who is based in the Netherlands.

Can map skills in a town

Using their large membership mass, LinkedIn can provide information about the skills available in a certain town or region, allowing a company or city to find out where in the world they can find the talent they need. Anoek Eckhardt uses an example from his own home city to illustrate how they work. Amsterdam City wants to attract technologically skilled people to create a techno hub in Europe. Using LinkedIn they have mapped the skills of people who are moving to Amsterdam, who are leaving the city and why.

“We can provide this knowledge and then the city can decide how it wants to use it. It could be interesting for them to get to know the technologically skilled people who already live in Amsterdam, and their contacts,” says Anoek Eckhardt.

In talks

There are also talks to establish a cooperation between the Swedish Public Employment Service and LinkedIn.

“We have met twice and have had an open debate about how we can work together. We are interested in anyone who can contribute to improved matching. A lot of the matching happens digitally these days,” says Anders Gawell at the Public Employment Service.

They are looking at how relevant information can be shared between the Public Employment Service and LinkedIn. It could, for instance, allow a jobseeker who uploads a CV to share it on LinkedIn with a simple click. They have also talked about how LinkedIn could contribute to the open online seminars which the employment service is planning for the spring and autumn, for instance by teaching how to market yourself both as an employee and employer.

“We need to get better at helping people navigate in the digital jobseeker world. It is also easy to have your skills verified using LinkedIn’s network,” says Anders Gawell.

Not competitors

He does not consider LinkedIn or other players to be competitors to the employment service. On the contrary; cooperating with many players who work to make it easier for people to find jobs is nothing but positive.

“We want the employment service to work as a hub for different kinds of cooperation,” he says.

Ylva Johansson is positive to the talks between LinkedIn and the employment service. She thinks it is a good, interesting and right thing to do. She also wants to highlight another issue which has come into focus after her meeting with LinkedIn — dealing with employers who struggle to find the right kinds of skills. 

She also believes LinkedIn can be important for people who are further away from the labour market.

“That is exactly what I believe a cooperation between the employment service and LinkedIn could lead to. And if you have two million members from Sweden’s labour force today, you are looking at nearly half of the total Swedish labour market. You will then have bypassed the most established routes,” says Ylva Johansson before she hurries along to her next meeting.

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