Ecorys: Innovative EU labour mobility scheme for youth

16 October 2014

The European Commission has hired consulting firm Ecorys to evaluate its recently launched labour mobility scheme for young people. The so-called ‘Your First EURES job’ scheme has been set up to help young Europeans find a paid job in an EU country other than their own. Ecorys concludes that the initiative is innovative and relevant to combat youth unemployment, however the current combined knowledge is not sufficient. To combat this, the researchers have provided the EC with several recommendations.

To help the many unemployed young people in the EU find a job, traineeship or apprenticeship, the European Commission (EC) has set up the ‘Your First EURES job’ (YfEj) mobility scheme. The scheme focuses on people between 18 and 30 years old, and supports them in finding paid work by providing access to the labour market in another EU country than their own. The YfEj offers young Europeans a wide range of services, ranging from support when they still are in school up to the point when they actually live abroad.

Your First EURES job services

The mobility scheme also focuses on finding candidates for vacancies that are difficult to fill, particularly for SMEs. YfEj, which runs from 2012 until 2014, has set as goal to have helped 5,000 people find a job in another EU country by 2015. To do this, YfEj provides subsidies to young Europeans, for undertaking an interview abroad, a language course, or for the costs of relocation, and to employers, for training and integration costs for new foreign employees, for a total of €4 million on an annual basis. The scheme also helps young people and employers by providing matching, recruitment and placement services.

With YfEj coming to an end, the EC wanted an evaluation of the mobility scheme and has hired consulting firm Ecorys to conduct the assessment. In the period reviewed, 2012 until 2014, the YfEj helped more than 1,500 young people in the EU find a paid job abroad, and more than 750 young people through grants for work-related preparatory trainings or job interviews.

Ecorys evaluates Your First EURES job programme

In its evaluation report, Ecorys concludes that the scheme is an innovative and relevant instrument for combatting youth unemployment and skills mismatches, and provides measures to overcome obstacles to labour mobility in the EU. The scheme is seen as an added value to youth labour mobility, as a result of its integrated approach: recruitment, matching and placement activities combined with financial support incentives.

However, Ecorys also indicates that the necessary combined knowledge of matching, placement and recruitment of young people in countries other than their own, was not sufficient among the participating organisations. The same is to be said of the hard-to fill vacancies. To secure a more efficient and knowledge-based performance in the future, Ecorys provides a number of recommendations. These include, among others, the need to avoid administrative burdens on all actors, and to create more visibility of YfEj at the centralised level. In addition, public-private partnership networks need to be boosted, and implementation guidelines and monitoring of the progress is needed.

To develop the mobility scheme beyond 2014, Ecorys provided the EC with a toolbox with different policy options concerning the management and finances of YfEj:

  • Continue the YfEj under the management of the EC
  • Integrate the YfEj services in EU countries under a shared management or with national budgets
  • Create an entirely new EU financial and legal instrument to manage the YfEj

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.