A common trend in labour market policies across Europe is the inclusion of a new and more disadvantaged group of citizens. However, while the objective of labour market inclusion is clear, the means of obtaining it are less so. The disadvantaged citizens often require services spanning across sectoral, organisational and professional boundaries (social services, public employment services, healthcare), thus requiring new forms of collaboration and coordination in and between public agencies. In addition, employers comprise a heterogeneous group with different labour needs and conditions, competences and attitudes regarding the employment of disadvantaged citizens.
Research on labour market inclusion has traditionally involved two approaches. A supply-side (or enabling) model has focused on making the unemployed ready for the labour market, through treatment and training. Increasingly, this model has been underpinned by use of conditionality and sanctions. A demand-side model has focused on making employers more eligible to employ vulnerable citizens, e.g. through anti-discrimination legislation or economic incentives.
Increasingly, scholars are shifting attention to a third approach, which focuses on improving service support in the inclusion processes. This approach is thus oriented more at the inclusion processes that happen at the workplaces, for example through Supported Employment. The approach involves a focus on the new types of organisational, professional and financial conditions needed for public agencies to provide effective workplace support, as well as the competences required by employers to tackle the uncertainties associated with labour market inclusion.
Despite these promising trends, many questions are still unanswered. For example, what are the organisational and structural (e.g. technological) conditions for public agencies to provide more effective support services targeted at the workplaces? What types of collaborations or integration of services between public employment services are required? What is the professional competence needed, both of the service providers but also of the employers (e.g. HRM services), and what is the role of educating institutions? What are the collaborations or relations between service providers and employers that are emerging? What service innovation activities are undertaken, and what are their implications on changed work practices? Which new types of (public) services are needed?
On this basis, we invite studies of new and innovative approaches to labour market inclusion. We seek contributions from a broad set of disciplines (e.g. public administration, disability studies, HRM/diversity management, organisational studies, social policy), but we prioritise studies that focus on some kind of novelty or innovativeness.