Internationally, the digitalisation of job-seeking and unemployment support services is rapidly increasing.

In the UK, access to benefits is already ‘digital by default’ and in Australia new digital approaches are being piloted prior to full implementation in 2022. Covid-19 is likely to further increase the pace of this digitalisation.

This Innovation Fund project will explore and compare how employment services are becoming digitalised in the UK and Australia, from design to delivery, through:

  • a quantitative survey of organisations delivering employment services
  • qualitative interviews with staff involved, from design to delivery, including technical architects to frontline support staff

Through this mixed methods approach, it will generate new knowledge of significant interest to policymakers, including:

  1. Mapping for the first time the different elements of digitalisation in relation to activation, including job search, coaching/mentoring, action-planning, on-boarding, post-placement support and progression;
  2. Identifying and analysing the perspectives of the different actors involved in the introduction of technological solutions into service delivery to understand both how digitalisation addresses old problems and what new issues arise for jobseekers.

This project will contribute to Digit’s work on understanding how digital technologies may empower, or further marginalise, the unemployed.

Research questions

  • How is digitalisation transforming the design and delivery of employment services in the UK and Australia?
  • How is digitalisation implicated in different aspects of employment services delivery?
  • How is digitalisation approached by different employment services actors?


Principal Investigator: Dr David Robertshaw (Leeds University Business School)

Co-investigator: Dr Jo Ingold (Deakin Business School)