In this chapter, the experiences of 4 city projects are discussed in the light of skills forecasting. Respectively, the barriers they faced, the key lessons that can be drawn from their experiences, as well as the replicability of their interventions are analysed.
A preliminary analysis revealed that 4 UIA city projects contribute significantly to the skills forecasting aspect of Just Transitions: STEAM City in Aveiro (PT), IGNITION in Greater Manchester (UK), Passport4Work in Eindhoven (NL) and Vilawatt in Viladecans (ES).
Starting with Aveiro, their forecasting activities are informed by a thorough analysis of the local labour market and local economy, which are developed by its Labour Observatory. It was designed to support local businesses in the areas of the digital transition, by preparing the workforce through training and upskilling programmes for STEAM competencies (adding the “A” for arts and creativity to the existing science, technology, engineering and mathematics domains). The observatory conducts primary as well as secondary skill analyses, incorporating both macro and micro data. The former originates from EU workforce data, whereas the latter is generated through an analysis of job advertisements. The rationale for this is the fact that certain vacancies remain unfilled for a long period of time, due to their lack of marketing appeal. Simultaneously, the primary analysis reveals specific qualification and requalification needs for employers in the region.
Greater Manchester, in a similar fashion to Aveiro, also engages in a first-hand analysis of skills supply and demand through its dedicated Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Skills Intelligence Team. Drawing on a combination of quantitative trends and qualitative anecdotal evidence, their insights are deepened in a collaborative effort with key employers, industry representatives and sectoral stakeholders. This information’s utility is two-fold: it is used to inform policymaking and funding decisions, but also to support employers active in the green technologies and services sector through the publicly available knowledge base of the IGNITION project (which serves to promote nature-based solutions in the region). For example, in a recent report, the regional status quo on retrofitting skills was presented, highlighting skill gaps and mismatches, their origins and remedial courses of action.
Eindhoven, the epicentre of the Dutch high-tech Brainport region, also emphasizes skills intelligence in its Passport4Work (P4W) project. The project has a dual nature, where the development of an innovative, gamified online career platform (with both an assessment and job matching function) goes hand in hand with the promotion and facilitation of a skills-based economy across the Netherlands. While the project’s origins are not rooted in the Just Transitions theme, its relevance is apparent. Two out the three industry sectors the project is targeting (construction, and the technical industry) play a critical part in the country’s nationwide transition from fossil fuels towards green energy. The project addresses the experienced shortages in these sectors by contributing to a transparent, and skills-based labour market, in which skills precede over diplomas and past work experience. By doing so, it aims to increase the inclusion and participation rates of its most vulnerable citizens while also catering to employer needs.
Viladecans is striving to become a climate-neutral community, with an active role for its citizens. In this process, realizing a drastic energy renovation of its residential buildings is one of its (and many European counterparts’) key priorities. By implementing an ambitious and unprecedented public-private-citizen governance partnership, it aims to realize a strong sense of community and collaboration among all stakeholders involved in the energy transition. Facilitating this transition, and at same time empowering its vulnerable citizens is inherently tied with skills forecasting.
In each of these four cities there is a growing concern that the competences of the workforce are not aligned with those required for the green transition. In the case of Aveiro, the growing relevance of digital competences for the implementation of the municipal’s energy transition plan is a main driver for its forecasting activities (which ultimately guide re- and upskilling activities). Similarly, in Manchester, more workers with specific retrofitting skills are required for its large-scale replacing of grey with green infrastructure. In both the cities of Eindhoven and Viladecans, a lack of occupational information reflecting the implications of the green transition is putting its already vulnerable citizens at even larger risk. In Eindhoven, for example, this is impeding the development and installation of low-carbon solutions, for which the appropriate skills are currently lacking.
 GM – Industry Labour Market and Skills Intelligence Report (2020) https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/media/4250/industry-labour-market-and-skills-intelligence-report-low-carbon-buildings-v1.pdf