How cities are managing the transition from industrial to smart jobs – reporting from our economic development forum in Genoa.
How are cities supporting entrepreneurs, SMEs and job creation in innovative and sustainable sectors, such as energy, telecoms, creative industries and smart mobility?
Cities need to help young people develop the right skills to enter the labour market, and enable workers to shift into new occupations. Eindhoven presented its Brainport Industries College, an initiative between business and education to train up the next generation of technology workers in the Brainport Eindhoven Region, which is home to businesses, knowledge and research institutions. The college uses a ‘work and learn’ approach which means students gain experience within partner companies straight away. It is open not only to students, but to anyone who wants to gain experience of working in the technology industry.
Gijon’s Agencia de Activación Juvenil (Youth Activation Agency) is helping people develop the right skills to find jobs. Established as a pilot project involving five local and regional partners under the EU’s Youth Guarantee programme, the agency provides guidance and personalised advice to young people aged 16-30 not in work, employment, education or training. The service has so far supported over 100 young people which led to 59 job placement, training or internship offers.
How can cities adapt to support entrepreneurship and SMEs in transforming and lagging economies? We heard from Lisbon, named European Entrepreneurial Region 2015, together with Northern Ireland and the Valencia region. Lisbon has made the most of its location as a ‘gateway to the Americas, Africa and EU’ to position itself as an Atlantic business hub and start up city. Its Startup Lisboa business incubator, which opened in 2012, was part of an urban regeneration scheme and is now one of a network of incubators and co-working spaces in the city. It also operates a Youth Entrepreneurship Programme offering education and training to young people in career development, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.
Barcelona explained how it has become an attractive place for foreign direct investment (FDI), with €7.4 billion worth of FDI in the Catalonia region between January 2011 and October 2013 leading to 20,334 jobs. The city explained that ICT, logistics, mobility and the financial sector appear to be the city’s hottest industries. Along with well working infrastructure, its success in attracting investment is also due to its low crime rate, good educational and leisure facilities. The city, which won the first European Capital of Innovation award in 2014, has also positioned itself as a leading smart city, fully exploiting the potential of IT for better services and quality of life.
In a special session, politicians from a number of European cities and from the Italian parliament considered how cities are managing the move from industrial to smart jobs. The meeting emphasised the commitment of local politicians to tackling unemployment, particularly among young people, and finding new and creative ways to support innovation, job creation and dynamic local labour markets.