Four projects were selected for the first UIA call for proposals in 2015.
1st UIA call for proposals
AS-Fabrik – Alliance for smart specialisation in advanced services towards the digital transformation of the industry, Bilbao
MARES – Resilient urban ecosystems for a sustainable economy, Madrid
OpenAgri– New Skills for new Jobs in Peri-urban Agriculture, Milan
BRIDGE – Building the Right Investments for Delivering a Growing Economy, Rotterdam
Six projects were selected under this topic for the third UIA call for proposals in 2017.
3rd UIA call for proposals
AVEIRO STEAMCity – Urban Network for Upgrading STEAM Skills and Increasing Jobs Added-Value through Digital Transformation in a new economic context, Aveiro
Cluj Future of Work, Cluj-Napoca
UFIL – Urban Forest Innovation Lab, Cuenca
P4W – Passport4Work an intersectoral skills passport with gamifies skills assessment and improvement, Eindhoven
GSIP – Growth and Social investment Pacts for Local Companies, Vantaa
NextGen, Next Generation Micro Cities of Europe, Ventspils and Valmiera
See all projects on the map
Some sectors are hiring, such as IT-related industries, health care, and personal services; others are in decline. Cities face the challenge to improve the match between supply and demand of skills. Therefore, urban authorities design project and policies to steer or nudge more students into promising sectors or through retraining schemes for people already in work. This asks for a sector or cluster specific approach, and deep collaboration with sector representatives. The integration between the qualification of talents and the provision of an ecosystem that can attract and realise the potential of such talents, is at the very core of most projects. Thus, local policy has a role to play in identifying industries particular specialisations, boosting them, or connecting clusters to each other or to knowledge institutes. UIA projects selected under the first call for proposals are cluster specific to a large extent, but from different angles. Bilbao (AS-Fabrik) and Milan (OpenAgri) focus on industry 4.0 and agriculture respectively, and seek to promote new types of synergies between actors to promote innovation; Rotterdam (BRIDGE ) is trying to nudge more young people into a limited number of sectors that exhibit employment growth; Madrid (MARES) goes for five clusters, to be developed in new neighbourhood hubs.
In Rotterdam, a core aim of the BRIDGE project is to improve the job opportunities of young people in the disadvantaged neighbourhood of Rotterdam Zuid. Unemployment is still very high there, but at the same time, specific local industries have difficulties in finding qualified staff: the port industries and the health sector are amongst these. To address this mismatch, the BRIDGE project unites many stakeholders such as employers in Rotterdam who offer a job guarantee to kids who choose a pathway in health or port/industry related fields.
The MARES project in Madrid has a sectoral focus as well, albeit in at the neighbourhood level. It maps and builds on five neighbourhood’s existing needs, skills and network to develop five specialized community incubators to foster social entrepreneurship. All five “MARES” are specialised to some extent, focusing on care, energy, mobility, food, and circularity (recycling) respectively and aim at introducing new economic model to provide these deprived neighbourhoods with new jobs and skills opportunities.
At first sight, Bilbao’s AS-Fabrik project looks even more sector-specific. It focuses on the digitalisation of industry – often referred to as “industry 4.0”, and the development of knowledge intensive business services in the metropolitan area. For Bilbao, this is very important: manufacturing industries are still an important part of the economy, but to remain competitive, they need to adopt digital technology, and a more service-oriented approach. AS-Fabrik intends to build on ecosystem’s positive effect by making industrial firms working together with universities, service firms, ICT firms.
Milan’s OpenAgri project is active in the agricultural industry. The project intends to create an open Innovation hub on Peri-Urban Agriculture, integrating several food policy experiments in a single strategy, and operating as a living lab to foster innovation in the agri-food sector. Agriculture-related SMEs from various parts of the value chain will be involved: farmers, but also suppliers of technologies, seeds, plants, materials; logistics, marketing, and knowledge/research institutes.
Some projects from the 3rd UIA call for proposals are also cluster specific. Indeed, the Urban Forest Innovation Lab (UFIL) of Cuenca also aims at the creation of businesses in the particular field of the Forest Bioeconomy Sector (FBS). Thus, the project takes advantage of an important natural asset, the underexploited Cuenca’s forest, to provide the region with jobs opportunities and trainings as well as developing the urban-rural connection.
Skills management (upskilling, forecasting, talent management)
The associated new economic opportunities and challenges will drastically change labour market needs. Consequently, qualification and skill gaps are expected to grow significantly. Tackling these challenges, most projects propose strategies that combine solutions to upskill their local workforce, attract new talent and/or foresee emerging skills.
Most projects focus first on forecasting skills needs and identifying them in target groups. Projects develop such approach by anticipating skills update and training the local workforce accordingly. Depending on the local economy and sectoral challenges, projects identify several evolving skills in domains such as engineering (Aveiro, Bilbao), arts (Aveiro, Cluj Napoca), ICT skills (Eindhoven, Aveiro) and the Green Digital Economy (Rotterdam, Bilbao).
More specifically, the project implemented in Cluj-Napoca, Cluj Future of Work, capitalises on creative-based industries and related knowledge, making them more competitive and able to provide adapted training for local jobs under high risk of automation (Business Process Outsourcing and Shared Service Centre jobs). In Eindhoven, the PASSPORT4WORK (P4W) project focuses on trainings and education programmes for skills identification and improvement to adapt the (re)employment journey for the lower educated workforce, which represents a considerable part of the cities’ labour market. They develop an intersectoral platform that propose innovative trainings based on a serious game approach and motivation tools to include the target group – especially the ICT workforce. It helps making non-visible skills visible, developing their soft skills and attracting new talents. The AS-Fabrik project, developed in Bilbao, also aims at identifying the mid-term needs of the manufacturing industry regarding digital skills.
Systemic changes as digitalisation increase the need for new skills, and those who rely solely on primary education are at risk of being excluded from the labour market. Many projects tackle this issue by training or retraining the local workforce accordingly. Vantaa is looking for solutions to tackle low-skilled workforce unemployment and more specifically, job and skills mismatch, exacerbated by the labour market transformations. In order to understand their impact at the local level and to address it, GSIP-Vantaa project (Growth and Social Investment Packs) is exploiting a research design to test innovative ways to improve low-educated employees’ and unemployed people’s capabilities for life-long learning and further education, and, lower their future unemployment risks. To do so, they develop an ICT platform, which combines and shares public and companies’ data in order to facilitate companies’ funding for upskilling their workforce. Building on the ICT results, the aim is to provide tailor made trainings adapted to the workforce and local businesses specific needs.
In Rotterdam, the need for healthcare and technology workforce is well known. The BRIDGE project then to bring students to choose a career in one of the Green Digital Economy major growth sectors. Bringing together all 68 primary schools, 20 secondary schools and 3 vocational schools in South Rotterdam, all pupils and their parents will take part in the career and talent orientation programme. The crucial element in the programme is the Career Start Guarantee, which links future employers with students.
The strategic aim of some municipalities, especially shrinking cities, is to retain or attract talents in order to stimulate their local growth. Such strategy is developed by Ventspills and Valmiera with the NextGen Microcities project. The two shrinking cities have formed a strong partnership to address the brain drain and skills mismatch they are facing, especially in the ICT sector. They implement a set of different actions such as targeted marketing campaigns, workforce trainings, educational partnerships with companies; and develop foreign investment strategy to attract, train and retain talents in their “micro-cities”.
Aveiro city’s combines these three perspectives in the STEAM City project by investing in how to attract, retain, and adapt talents to the present and future needs of the local context. First, it rethinks the educational/qualification system responsiveness to labour market needs by building on a strong educational offer for the cities’ workforce to produce a new range of talents in the domains of Science Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM). Second, it will create a Responsive Observatory that will determine the skills demand, its evolution and design short-term training courses adapted to those needs. Finally, the project helps local companies to attract and retain young ICT talent as well as it prepares the urban authority for the new technological revolution associated with 5G and IoT infrastructure.