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STAR's Evidence Strategy

In Denmark, politicians are increasingly interested in the effects of active labour market policies. The Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment (STAR) is therefore working to support the policy process by systematically accumulating evidence about the effects of ALMP. This approach is formally described in the Danish Evidence Strategy, which has been implemented across the entire Ministry of Employment.

The purpose of STAR’s evidence strategy

The continuous development and implementation of policy and legislation can be
seen as a constant cycle comprised of four steps. In the first step, policy proposals,
which have been negotiated by political parties are articulated. In step two, the political parties decide the legislation. In step three, legislation is implemented. In
step four, the effects of new initiatives and policies are evaluated. In these processes, evidence-based knowledge plays a crucial role, as it serves as an important
source of input when designing new policies as well as the actual implementation
of the employment policy.

Figure 1. The use of evidence in policy development and implementation

The use of evidence in policy development and implementation

Evidence-based knowledge is used in political initiatives and reform processes, to
point out what effects are to be expected from various policy proposals and as a basis for calculating the behavioural and economic consequences.
Furthermore, evidence based knowledge is used to support the implementation of employment efforts. This is done so that the focus is centered on implementing central and effective core elements and to ensure that appropriate indicators can be monitored. Ultimately, the desired outcome of the use of evidence based knowledge is that front line employees can be supported in providing the best possible employment effort. The systematic impact evaluation of employment policy ensures that, as part of policy development and implementation, a natural feedback loop of new knowledge is created in addition to pre-existing knowledge.

As illustrated in Figure 1, the pool of evidence-based knowledge is as follows:

  1. The preparation of policy proposals where the evidence strategy is intended to ensure solid knowledge of the effects of employment-oriented efforts and other conditions within the labour market
  2. When implementing the adopted policy and legislation, where the evidence strategy is used to ensure solid knowledge of how the employment effort is best implemented to achieve the desired effects.

The two points depicted above are closely related; however, there is a fundamental difference in the usage of the knowledge when concerning each respective area. When formulating policy proposals, the focus typically lies on whether or not there is an effect and if there is an effect, how wide-ranging it is.

In the local implementation of employment efforts, there is also a great need for knowledge regarding how the effort works in practice, this includes knowledge on which core elements are most important and should be implemented in order for the effort to have the best effect and outcome possible.

The following section describes the overall activities in the work with building up
knowledge and the use of knowledge. All aspects of the work process and the tools are depicted in detail in Appendix 1-8. Only in Danish)

The A-B-C of working with knowledge

Working with evidence-based knowledge consists of three parts (A, B and C in figure 1 below). A) decide on subject areas that require knowledge, B) start gathering appropriate knowledge C) establish a systematic knowledge database, where all developed and identified knowledge is pooled and available to those who require it, so that the purpose of the knowledge is understood.

STAR's work with evidence-based knowledge

Choosing a field of knowledge (A) must be widely understood, as there are two primary areas of knowledge. The two objectives of the evidence strategy are a combination of knowledge concerning jobs and educational effects of the employment-oriented effort and how the employment-oriented effort is best implemented.

The knowledge-building activities or gathering of knowledge (B) can be initiated
within the dedicated subject fields. This can be either the gathering of knowledge
(typically through literature reviews) or the development of new knowledge
(through controlled experiments and analysis, etc.)
Storing collected and developed knowledge in a systematic knowledge database
(C) implies that key information accumulated via the identified literature is recorded, so that it is always easy and accessible to find and disseminate.

In addition to the aforementioned, STAR is working on disseminating the evidence-based knowledge in a specific form so that it is best applied. For policy development, knowledge must be communicated in a short and precise manner, and often within a short deadline. When regarding implementation, the dissemination must ensure that the local actors can decode the evidence-based knowledge into concrete practice.

Vital tools

In order to support working with knowledge, STAR applies a wide variety of tools.
This is illustrated in the following figure.

STAR's work with knowledge and vital tools

The Ministry of Employment common prioritization criteria, which is outlined in
the general evidence strategy, is applied in order to provision the choice of subject
fields where knowledge needs to be cultivated (V1).

To support the knowledge-building activities, a knowledge base template has been
developed to define and qualify the active core elements that various efforts consist of (V2).

STAR has developed a concrete evaluation model, which is applied when
knowledge and implementation projects are initiated. This is done in order to support systematic analytical evaluations (V3).

Lastly, STAR has a predetermined hierarchy of knowledge to ensure systematic
and uniform conclusions based on the identified knowledge at hand (V4).

The respective activities in the evidence work, as well as the central tools in the
work described above, are further elaborated in the attached

Last updated: 19-08-2020