The New Digital Governance of Welfare to Work (2020-2024)

Exploring how digital delivery, as a policy design choice, improves frontline services and system governance, and supports policy learning to improve outcomes for jobseekers.

Digital delivery has the potential to enhance services, as well as reduce them – particularly for vulnerable populations. How this happens depends on how providers implement digitalisation in practice.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made exploring the practices of digitalisation even more critical. The shift to digital service provision is a hallmark of the pandemic, as people work, learn and socialise from home. There is more pressure on policy makers to find efficiencies. Employers and job seekers are also adjusting to a changing labour market and new risks. Many services have had to adapt. In some cases, customers have identified benefits they would like to see continue.

The research team examines how digitalisation of employment services changes governance at the ground level. We do this by looking at the complex effects of digitisation on service delivery to jobseekers and employers. The team works in collaboration with key industry partners:

The project seeks to:

  • Examine how ‘digital first’ changes the delivery of employment services to all jobseekers
  • Analyse the changes in roles and relationships between jobseekers, service providers, employers, and government (Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business)
  • Explain how these changes impact our wider understanding of new forms of governance and accountability
  • Examine whether the emerging system is more responsive to the needs of jobseekers and employers
  • Identify policy learnings and service design enhancements that can be incorporated into the new system.

The project includes four streams of research:

  1. Benchmarking international case studies on experiments with digitalisation
  2. Australian case studies of the current/future use of digital tools by providers, jobseekers, employers and government
  3. A survey in 2023 exploring the impact of these changes on the frontline (adapting questionnaires undertaken in 1998,  2008, 2012 and 2016).
  4. Develop, with our industry partners, a Collaborative Innovation and Learning Lab (CILL) on digital governance and welfare-to-work reform.