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Reshaping Prosperity: Europe’s Determined Efforts in Talent Retention

Aug 24, 2023 | Blog, EU institutions

Author: Leticia Abarca (AEIDL)

A staggering 46 EU regions, representing 16% of the European population, are currently ensnared in a talent development trap, with another 13% (36 regions) at risk of joining them.

The 2023 Report on the Impact of Demographic Change highlighted that to ensure future EU prosperity, it is fundamental to address the challenges brought by the demographic transition, which does not affect every region in the same way. Meanwhile, EU member countries are encountering a significant decrease in their working-age populace. The population has witnessed a reduction of 3.5 million individuals from 2015 to 2020, and projections indicate a further decline of 35 million people by the year 2050.

Harnessing Talent Platform and the Talent Booster Mechanism

Following evidence, the European Commission Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) has launched the Harnessing Talent Platform (HTP). The Harnessing Talent Platform is a newly formed knowledge-building and experience-exchange platform, which seeks to support regions in addressing the consequences of the demographic change and in mitigating the challenges associated with the decline of tertiary educated populations across the EU. It ensures that impacted regions receive the guidance, information and knowledge they need to elaborate, consolidate, develop and implement tailored and comprehensive strategies to train, attract and retain talents.

For that, the Talent Booster Mechanism has been launched as a part of the European Year of Skills. With the goal of injecting renewed energy into reskilling and upskilling efforts, this Mechanism is designed to provide assistance to EU regions grappling with the rapid decline in their working-age population. Its purpose is to empower these regions to educate, retain, and draw in individuals possessing the necessary skills and competencies to effectively address the consequences of the demographic shift.

This proposal puts forth solutions that are both location-specific and multi-faceted. It suggests leveraging existing EU funds and initiatives to lend support to regions most severely impacted by the ongoing demographic transition and its associated effects. The aim is to prevent the emergence of new territorial disparities within the European Union and to counteract any existing disparities, which can be observed on the map.

Underpinning the Talent Booster Mechanism are eight pillars, each designed to ignite change:

  1. A groundbreaking project dedicated to regions grappling with talent development issues.
  2. An innovative initiative aimed at smart adaptation to the demographic transition.
  3. The Technical Support Instrument (TSI) offers assistance for national and regional reforms.
  4. Cohesion Policy and Interregional Innovation Investments drive innovation.
  5. A call for inventive actions is underway, focusing on solutions for shrinking cities.
  6. A dedicated webpage spotlights EU initiatives that champion talent development.
  7. Experiences are shared, and best practices are disseminated.
  8. Analytical knowledge fuels evidence-based policies for regional development and migration.

What’s on the horizon?

In this massive effort to boost talent across EU and help regions to retain talent, some “Save the date” are almost mandatory.

Firstly, it is possible to become part of the HTP specialized working groups. They have the goal to gather stakeholders across different regions for discussions on talent utilization in Europe and the impact of demographic changes. These groups focus on sectors like Digital, Health, Research & Innovation, and Territorial aspects. They aim to understand how these sectors affect regional competitiveness and appeal to skilled professionals. The working groups will explore solutions, share expertise, highlight best practices, and provide policy recommendations to address demographic challenges and attract, nurture, and retain talent.

Secondly, some calls are already open! Both the second call for Innovative Actions and the Interregional Innovation Investment Instruments are waiting for proposals focused on shrinking cities and territories.

If you want to know more, check the calendar below.

September 2023Closure of call for Working Groups Members, 15 September
Launch of call for regions to receive technical assistance under Pillar 1, 11 September
October 2023Closure of call under Pillar 5, 5 October
Closure of call under Pillar 4, 17 October
Closure of call under Pillar 1, 20 October
Closure of call under Pillar 3, 31 October
EU Regions and Cities Week
November 2023Harnessing Talent Platform Launch Event, 23-24 November
Capacity building Call – Interregional Innovation Investments (I3) Instrument – Info day

Implications for CODECS

The journey toward a talent-rich Europe has begun. As the Harnessing Talent Platform and Talent Booster Mechanism take centre stage, regions are poised to become vibrant hubs of innovation, armed with the skills and strategies to thrive amidst demographic shifts.

Testing and promoting new technologies and boosting digital skills is a key aspect of the Living Labs’ work, while Demo Farm events allow the showcasing of technologies in rural and agricultural areas. Achieving high digital skills and retaining the talented population in rural areas is then fundamental for allowing the flourishing of new initiatives that apply sustainable digitalisation and promote new technologies.

The journey toward a talent-rich Europe has begun. As the Harnessing Talent Platform and Talent Booster Mechanism take centre stage, regions are poised to become vibrant hubs of innovation, armed with the skills and strategies to thrive amidst demographic shifts.

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