Cities and urban agglomerations are the main drivers for innovation, competitiveness and economic growth. They are home to two thirds of the EU’s workforce and host most educational institutions and centres. Despite these ample opportunities for people in cities to find employment and skills development some core issues persist. This can be seen in situations of long-term unemployment, skills mismatch, young people not in education or training, etc.
However, even if not always under their power and control, cities are expected to play an important role in managing local labour markets in order to ensure a good match between demand (jobs) and supply (people to fill jobs) guaranteeing sustainable economic growth. Cities not only have to ensure that the right conditions are established to sustain and develop business and growth but they also need to nurture as well as attract talent. The theme is of great relevance and complexity as it touches upon multiple policy fields whether it be economic development, integration and inclusion measures as well as the education and skills agendas.
The topic of jobs and skills is very high on the EU political agenda. While it represents one of the building blocks of the EU2020 strategy, it received new impulse and attention through the EU Pillar of Social Rights. Proclaimed in the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth held on 17 November 2017, it sets out how the EU aims to deliver new and more effective rights for citizens. It has three main categories: equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion. Cities are expected to factively contribute to the implement these orientations in their local labour markets in order to avoid further social fragmentation. This is especially the case for many urban authorities across the EU that are still recovering from the crisis which started in 2008 and for those that seek to become more resilient in case a new crisis should arise.
The four projects selected under the topic in the UIA first Call for Proposals are clearly working in that direction by experimenting new solutions to make their local communities more prosperous but also more inclusive and fair.
The different focuses and targets groups of the four UIA projects demonstrate the complexity of the topic, the diversity of the challenges to be addressed but also the richness of the possible innovative solutions.
Two of the projects are concentrating their efforts on skills and specifically on anticipating or reacting to economic and technological transitions. Rotterdam is trying to bridge the skills gap in the labour market generated by the shift of local enterprises toward the new economic sectors linked to the Third Industrial Revolution (green, blue and white economy) in the city’s most deprived neighbourhood. In Bilbao the project will help the industrial support services to accompany the shift of the local manufacturing sector towards the adoption of 4.0 technologies (robotics, 3D printing, etc.). In Madrid the project will unlock the potential of social innovation and grassroots initiatives in jobs and value creation in four key sectors for the city (mobility, food, recycling and energy). Milan will implement food innovation dynamics linked to the Milan Urban Policy Pact (MUFPP) by creating a living lab for social inclusion, jobs creation and open innovation along the food supply chain. Overall, these projects will aim to create the conditions for these disruptive shifts to generate inclusive positive effects for local communities. You can find out further about the projects, what they have been implementing and how they tackle the challenges of implementation in the individual webpages on our website.
Urban authorities have once more the opportunity to put forward their bold solutions in the UIA third Call for Proposals where they can bid under the jobs and skills in the labour market topic. As a reminder to all applicants, the solutions tackled by the four projects funded in the UIA first Call for Proposals will not be selected a second time and new as well as different ideas should be put forward.
Ahead of the launch of the call we asked the managers of our UIA projects on the topic to give their testimony. Read the interviews from Bilbao, Milan and Rotterdam.