Labour Market Observatory (Osservatorio del Mercato del Lavoro) (OML)

Published on: 01/11/2010

In order to improve eservices for the job market, the Basilicata region has recently launched the Labour Market Observatory (Osservatorio del Mercato del Lavoro - OML). This is an innovative system for regional labour market data acquisition, processing and management. It provides an accurate picture of the job market, and represents an important tool for making effective and appropriate policies.

The Observatory interacts directly with the BASIL, the employment information system of the Basilicata region, and is able to:

  • execute data warehousing and data mining for the study and analysis of the labour market data in order to improve the procedures to match job supply and demand;
  • provide innovative tools for implementing placement actions for the disadvantaged as well as disabled people (and continuous monitoring of the specific needs of the labour market for these people);
  • implement innovative procedures for the improvement of labour service by means of the integration with the regional system;
  • acquire and elaborate the data related to the provincial educational and training system.

The Observatory is a web-based eservice in accordance with the European guidelines for the educational process, training and work experience and is designed to help new and old job seekers to enhance and develop their skills and experience and be ready to face the "new skill for new job" labour market.

The interoperability with already existing systems such as the national Compulsory Communication - Comunicazioni Obbligatorie (CO) and data sharing with other public entities that are in charge of labour market statistical figures and forecasts (e.g. ISTAT - The Italian National Institute of Statistics) make the observatory a powerful tool for actually characterising and helping local productivity.

Policy Context

Nowadays the trends in the labour market, characterised by a high degree of flexibility and change, force the public administration to use new and sophisticated instruments to understand the information and act correctly in this ever-evolving scenario; the development of the Labour Market Observatory constitutes a big step towards this ambitious goal: to rapidly understand the needs in terms of labour demand and supply both for new jobs and old jobs and at the same time to provide the citizens an efficient service, promoting new active policies for work and education that are really effective and improving the public administration's relations with both citizens and companies.

The observatory constitutes a network of nodes in which every actor contributes with its own perspective in this global project for the study and characterisation of local productivity.

At the moment the Labour Market Observatory acquires the data that are collected by the Local Centre for Labour (directly or through the Compulsory Communication System) and performs periodic elaborations. These data and results could in the near future be compared with those coming from other entities (ISTAT - The Italian National Institute of Statistics, Excelsior Information System by Unioncamere, the Italian Association of the Chambers of Commerce, etc.) in order to obtain even more meaningful information.

In this framework, the effect of the difficult economic situation of the last few years still has repercussions in 2010 with more companies in financial difficulties and measures to cushion the effect of unemployment. In this framework the Basilicata region has promoted reaction among the actors involved in this occupational and production crisis and has developed new statistics able to represent the main labour index, thus allowing the monitoring of the occupational trends and the effects of the measures taken.

Description of target users and groups

The Observatory has to analyse the regional job market in all its aspects, with periodic examination of the fluxes of employees and their variation in relations to many different factors (time, geographical range, professional skills, etc.), thus allowing a more comprehensive overview of the labour market and therefore a more effective planning of active employment policies.

The results of this analysis are available to the various stakeholders - institutional and private - that are part of the labour market, allowing them to improve their active policies and educational actions.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The Labour Market Observatory service presents a simple and intuitive web interface in which many parameters can be configured to obtain different statistics. The user can easily set both the input parameters (the information that the user needs to know already) and the output mode (the type and form of the information to be discovered).

The two main modes of execution are Stock Data Extraction and Flux Data Extraction. Stock data can be considered as a picture of the database at a precise time. Different pictures at different times can provide a mean of understanding the variation of the measured parameters over time. On the other hand the Flux Data represents the variation of certain data in a specific interval of time, for example the number of recruitments in the last six months.

The following pictures represent an example of how a Stock Data Extraction and a Flux Data Extraction can be performed:         


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Figure 1: Stock Data Extraction: parameters selection.

In this section different input parameters can be selected. For example, the extraction date, the measure on which the query will be performed (citizens, companies, employments), and the dimensions of interest (citizenship, gender, age, etc.)


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 Figure 1: Stock Data Extraction: output results (table and graph format).


The History of Stock allows the user to view a summary of the extractions performed in a given period of time:


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Figure 3: History of Stock example: parameters selection.


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Figure 4: History of Stock example: output results.


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Figure 5: Flux Data Extraction example: parameters selection.


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Figure 6: Flux Data Extraction example: output results.

In the previous figure the result of a specific query performed by the user is shown: the number of employees with their type of contract grouped by age group. The results of any extraction can be displayed in the form of both graphs and tables, and can be saved in excel format.  


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Figure 7: "Gestione Crisi" example: parameters selection.


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Figure 8: "Gestione Crisi" example: output results.


The Dashboard

Through a new interface named "Cruscotto" (Dashboard), the Labour Market Observatory service can easily show and control the main indices of the labour market in order to monitor in real time their trends: 


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Figure 9: The "Cruscotto" example: output results.




In order to define the existence of the given information in a physical space (i.e. the region and provinces), the Labour Market Observatory system allows the georeferencing of the data with a cartographic system (such as Google Maps). This kind of visualisation permit a visual representation of the different statistical phenomena for the provinces of the Basilicata region, making the information easier to understand and assess. The next figure is a typical representation of this kind of result where the colours represent the magnitude of a certain parameter (i.e. employment rate).      


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Figure 10: Georeferencing example: output results.


The final goal of the Labour Market Observatory system was to give the Basilicata Public Administration a novel instrument that can provide in a simple way a highly detailed analysis of all the parameters that characterised the labour market of the region and its provinces.

Thanks to the use of this system, different results have already been achieved: the examination of the flux of the occupation with detailed information on the workplace stability, turnover rate, etc.; the analysis and the characterisation of atypical work; and in general the access to a lot of information that permits the user to fully and clearly understand the labour market situation to better support of the active policies and actions. 

Technology solution

OML is a web based application, developed on a Microsoft platform, completely integrated with the BASIL system, the Labour Information System of the Basilicata region.

The OML system elaborates periodic statistics on the whole BASIL database in order to obtain significant information about the trends in a specific period.

Staging Environment

The different statistics elaborated by the OML system are at first treated with specific tools to control the data obtained and then are stored in a dedicated Staging environment, realised with Microsoft SQL Server 2005. Other kinds of data could also be stored in this environment, such as the data warehouse used by the Province, INPS and INAIL data, etc.

Elaboration of "Facts Tables" and "Dimensions"

The parameters to be analysed are identified in the Staging Environment and grouped in facts tables, i.e. denormalised data aggregation structures.  As a consequence, dedicated structures called "dimensions" are developed, to correlate the data of facts tables.

The OML system uses the following fundamental parameters:

  • Number of workers registered in the BASIL system
  • Number of working relationships
  • Number of hirings and cessations in a specific period
  • Number of companies registered in the BASIL system

Each data mining from the facts table represents a stock (i.e. a sort of snapshot of the database when data are extracted), identified by the date. All the tables are also linked together to group all the significant information in a homogeneous way.

For example, the "workers" table and the "working relationships" table share particular information such as sex, age, etc. to correlate the available data in the desired way.


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OLAP Cubes Creation

The OLAP Cube is created using Microsoft SQL Analysis Services tools, that periodically verify the facts tables to realise incremental elaborations on the new data. The users can handle the stored data interfacing with a web application realised thanks to the presence of these pre-aggregated structures.


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The data sharing with other web systems is a crucial objective of OML, as requested in the guidelines of the national Labour Information System.

In particular, in this phase of the project, some interactions have been programmed:

  • the complete integration and interaction with BASIL system with the Labour Information System of the Basilicata region. OML and BASIL will share data, information and interfaces.
  • the possibility to share data with other extra regional informatics systems (as ISTAT - Regional Clic Lavoro System)

The interoperability with the other systems is granted by specific functionalities developed to generate XML files containing all the requested information.

In addition, the other systems involved will access the application data using web services, which will enable an automatic "server to server" communication to access the services and functionalities provided by BASIL using the standard SOAP communication, also based on XML.


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As shown in the previous figure, the SIL server acts as "listener" waiting for the requests coming from other servers. The Administration will decide which information will be shared using web services and which data will be accessible for extra-regional users.

In both solutions the communication structure will be defined through the creation of a specific protocol between the Province and the other systems.

OML is a web solution based on Microsoft Framework. The database solution is MS SQL Server 2008 and the web content has been developed in MS ASP.Net.

The requirement for the users is a normal internet browser.

Technology choice: Proprietary technology

Main results, benefits and impacts

The Labour Market Observatory service presents a simple and intuitive web interface in which many parameters can be configured to obtain different statistics. The user can easily set both the input parameters (the information that the user needs to know already) and the output mode (the type and form of the information to be discovered).

The Labour Market Observatory service is based on the BASIL system, the Labour Information System of the Basilicata region. The BASIL system allows the Local Centre for Labour (CPI - Centri Per l'Impiego) to collect a large amount of data regarding the recruiting, processing, shifting and dismissing of employment relations, employees and companies.

The main goals achieved by the Labour Market Observatory are:

  • the use of novel data analysis techniques (data warehouse and data mining) for the study and analysis of labour market data in order to improve the procedures of the matching of job supply and demand
  • a high-profile portfolio of services regarding counselling and work placement delivered by the Local Labour Centre
  • a new and improved understanding of the counselling and work placement actions for disadvantaged or disabled people through a continuous monitoring and analysis of their specific needs in the labour market
  • testing of novel instruments and procedures for the improvement of labour services through the integration with the regional system
  • acquisition, elaboration and analysis of the data related to the provincial educational system and its main indices regarding school enrolment and education levels.


A very important issue regarding the data processed by the Labour Market Observatory is given by the fact that it comes directly from the Compulsory Communication System (Comunicazioni Obbligatorie - CO), that from 1 March 2008 collects any notification of recruiting, processing, shifting or dismissing of any employment relationship in Italy and forward it to the local Centre of Labour.

Through this interoperability process, BASIL and therefore the Labour Market Observatory are able to know for example the more requested jobs in the their region and in the neighbouring provinces, thus allowing more efficient active policies and actions

He distribution of the service through the Internet permits:

  • Speedy data transfer
  • Information sharing
  • Digitalisation of administrative procedures
  • Distributed data acquisition
  • Centralisation of data
  • Analysis and a real picture of job market and migration flows

The use of standard shared communication (cooperative application) permits:

  • Uniformity in procedures management
  • Exchange of data between different systems
  • All subjects speak  the same "language"
  • Final result: better, fast and more efficient service

The OML service responds to the European Community requirements for:

  • The "New Skills for New Jobs" initiative, on the modernisation of the European labour market
  • "Early Warning System",  the analysis on labour market needs based on actual data (business Intelligence to labour market)
  • "Labour market intelligence cell", the management of information through interoperability of any provincial data of Matera and Potenza

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Track record of sharing

The observatory information system is useful for any labour and educational department that is involved with active labour politics.

The authors offer their expertise for competence transfer by means of training sessions in interested countries. The technological infrastructure can be also part of the transfer project in which the idea of re-use and customisation according the specific needs have to be considered and supported (e.g. under an ESF action).

Lessons learnt

The data obtained using the systems previously described can be used to measure the efficacy of the adopted labour policies, monitoring specific parameters such as age, sex and number of companies. The need to analyse this kind of data and its influence in the relationship between academic education and the possibility of finding a job, lead to the use of innovative models, already applied in other fields. The required information is organised in specific structures in which the single units (individuals) are aggregated in superior classes  that could be grouped together in clusters; these specific structures need a novel information elaboration at different levels.

In this framework, Basilicata Region has chosen to develop and manage a permanent observation system to monitor the job market using specific instruments able to collect, validate, elaborate and analyse data, the Labour Market Observatory

This Observatory will provide important information to develop projects and active policies to facilitate the matching between job demand and supply.

This instrument will support the Administration to:

  • Verify the job market flux, considering the creation and deletion of job opportunities, the turnover tax, etc.;
  • Efficiently analyse the features and results of atypical jobs (collaborations, etc.);
  • Access all the information required to have an effective knowledge of local job trends and support the active policies;
  • Obtain the information using a simple web-based interface which does not require specific informatics knowledge and enables the user to immediately individuate the useful data.

The OML system is an observatory of job requests and supplies, able to evaluate the existing deficiencies in the job market and, at the same time, to analyse the statistics obtained from the BASIL system database.

The Observatory follows the evolutions of the local job market providing a punctual analysis and enabling a real-time intervention in active policies to improve the occupational and productive sectors.

Now the new aim is to develop a statistical forecasting model to improve the capacity to anticipate labour market changes.

Scope: Regional (sub-national)