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Results

1. Policy recommendations

Attracting and retaining talent needs:

  • an overall strategic process involving all stakeholders for the specific regional brain flow problem
  • an overall frame for various measure to be bound, and not a lot of single actions by many different problem owners (to avoid overlap and inefficacy)
  • It needs an co-ordinating actor, being in charge, not necessarily the regional government
  • It should not focus on only one specific category of human capital

This strategic approach should

  • increase activities of warm place marketing and attract high-skilled before they leave
  • set-up networks to absorb better knowledge spill over and inflows as well as knowledge anchoring
  • develop an open, tolerant, inclusive welcoming culture
  • foster temporary attraction of high-skilled (e.g. international summer schools, conference)
  • identify the regional strengths, strong features and to address the regional marketing to the specific target group who appreciate this specific kind of features

The problem awareness varies in all analysed regions

  • Hedmark: less population growth, hard to keep regional population and housing pattern
  • EWL: reduced external perception, which especially SME’s suffer from
  • Navarra: outmigration of younger generation, loss of talent
  • Twente: mismatch between the need of high-skilled and brain drain
  • Basel: demand of high-skilled is higher than the national pool can supply
  • Gelderland: lack of entrepreneurial appeal

 

2. Outcomes BUTTON project per region

  • The expected outcomes of the BUTTON project were supposed to be
  • Problem awareness and understanding amongst regional stakeholder.
  • In-depth knowledge of policy approaches and measures and their basic ‘working conditions’
  • Evidence-based regional policy approaches and strategy formulations
  • Transferable methodology of policy development and integration; improved approaches to policy integration and instrumentalisation, resulting in modernisation of policy-making

After two years of intensive work the results of the project were perceived as the following:

Problem awareness and understanding amongst regional stakeholders

NRW, East Westphalia-Lippe

For the region East Westphalia-Lippe (NRW) the demand for skilled labour is an important issue. EWL is a so-called ‘non-core’ region and suffers from a reduced external perception. EWL’s economy consists of a wide mix of industries and medium-sized companies (70% of all enterprises are SMEs). Thus, EWL is particularly dependent on skilled workers with a special high expertise. Already in 2001 a lack of skilled workers in the field of engineering was announced. The current situation indicates that medium-term skilled workers’ shortage is expected in MINT-related sectors, metal, electronics, mechatronics, IT and healthcare industries. Similar to other regions, the demographic change also reinforced the need for skilled workers in EWL. In EWL there still is untapped regional potential such as: (1) 100,000 students; (2) Women working in half time position (the female employment rate counts only 46.7% in EWL); (3) Employees with a migration background and migrants; (4) Disadvantaged target groups such as young people without a VET or elder employees searching for an entrance to the labour market.

Navarra

In 2012 there has been an increase in the migration of the younger generation to other EU countries to seek employment opportunities which is assuming a very significant loss of talent and people trained in Navarra. The awareness of the problem in Navarre is high and therefore has developed several strategies to change these trends: Plan Moderna and International Plan of Navarre 2013-2016.

Hedmark

I think the topic of our project is very much on the agenda of our policymakers and other regional stakeholders. Most people realize that the competition for talent or human capital will be crucial for regional prosperity in the years to come. Stagnation or even decline in population growth is heavily emphasised as a challenge, but in Hedmark there internal are regional differences in how acute this challenge is. In many way is growth in population the ultimately yardstick for regional development. The last few decades have seen a clear tendency towards urbanisation; cities and larger urban regions have undergone the most positive development, both in terms of job creation and the number of inhabitants. This means that a rural region like Hedmark must work hard to keep the regional population and housing pattern.

Twente

The problem of ‘brain drain’ has been on the political agenda in the Twente region for more than ten years. Twente has a mismatch between the need for highly qualified workforce given the regional ambition of being a high tech, innovative region and the brain drain and present level of education in the region. This general problem is most strongly felt in times of economic boom when the pull factors from the core region are extra strong. But there is a general understanding among public and private actors that the region has to work on reducing the brain drain, producing more human capital and attract people from outside the region.

Basel

Basel is a region with brain gain. The demand for highly qualified people is higher than the local or national labour pool can supply. Most stakeholders in the region are aware that the competition for talent is decisive for regional economic success. They are aware that the region has to be attractive for highly educated people from abroad, but also find policy measures to ensure that the region can cope with population growth and integration.

Gelderland

Gelderland is generally considered an attractive province for living and working, appealing notably to talent seeking for a good mix of urban and green qualities. However, there are strong regional differences within the province, with larger (Arnhem, Nijmegen) and specialist (Wageningen) cities exerting much more appeal than ‘ordinary’ commuter towns. Another general problem is the lack of visibility and reputation  Internal differences can be summarised as flows. The university towns of Nijmegen and  Wageningen have a high oversupply of highly skilled labour, and a high rate of labour circulation  Wageningen benefits from the presence of ‘Food Valley’, a concentration of firms specialising in the food sector. In contrast, Nijmegen does not exert a strong appeal to more specialised forms, resulting in high levels of commuting and circulation. The provincial capital, Arnhem, on the other hand, shows a moderate shortage of highly skilled labour, due to a lacking attractivity. Such a shortage is even more marked in smaller towns such as Ede.

 

In-depth knowledge of policy approaches and measures and their basic ‘working conditions’

NRW, East Westphalia-Lippe

In Button’s 3B WP the IAT found several approaches and measures in the region of EWL. EWL designed a Regional Action Plan to support and safeguard skilled workers in the region (Regionales Handlunskonzept Fachkräftesicherung in OWL). Its main fields of action are: (1) to attract and retain young employees; (2) to attract and retain skilled workers for SMEs; (3) to expand professional qualification and VET; (4) and to monitor the regional skill shortage. Moreover, a regional Memorandum functions as a concept for regional co-operation between companies and universities. A special Action Plan for Women was developed (Frau und Beruf) to foster women in VET and work with a special focus on MINT-related sectors.

Navarra

Thanks to the Button Project and specifically through Component 3B “Policy review” it has done an exhaustive study on policies and it has great knowledge of the measures that are being developed in Navarre. In general the policies are well raised and are generating results, but the current economic situation plays against.

Hedmark

In Button’s 3B WP we found that for most regions and municipalities in Hedmark, population growth is a goal. This is reflected in most of the regional and local policy strategies. However, when is comes to targeting highly educated to, either to attract new comers or retaining people already there, few have this as an explicit strategy.

Twente

During the last ten years different strategies were formulated, collectively or individually, by private and public partners. These strategy processes do not only have different actors involved but also have different angles on brain flow problems. There is a strong link in the Twente region between innovation strategies and brain flow strategies. As  formal strategies that produce separate strategy documents or parts of documents, we can distinguish the human capital agenda Twente;  the human capital agenda Top sector policy cluster high tech materials and several municipal and regional economic plans and labour market plans. Some other initiatives have more the character of business plans for chosen solutions than strategies, namely the Career Centre Twente initiative, the expat centre and the foundation Region branding Twente.

Basel

In Button’s 3B WP we find that the region has no explicit written strategy to attract the highly qualified. Nevertheless there is a strategy to provide good framework conditions for companies and research institutions as well as to provide a high quality of life.

Gelderland

The basic form of skill-oriented labour policy within the province is organised at the regional level, in so-called Platforms Onderwijs en Arbeidsmarkt (Platforms Education and Labour Market). There are also a number of province-wide initiatives oriented towards the nurturing and matching of technical skills.

Evidence-based regional policy approaches and strategy formulations

NRW, East Westphalia-Lippe

Due to qualitative and quantitative data analyses as well as interviews with stakeholders the main found measurements in EWL focus the mobilisation of untapped potential by supporting women, migrants and disadvantaged groups in work and VET. Retention of skilled workforce is also a strong point in EWL’s agenda. A strategy to attract skilled workers exists, but in this field just a few single measures are given. Thus, EWL needs more measure to attract, re-attract and temporally attract skilled workers.

Navarra

The development of policies aimed at talent has been based on evidence. For concreteness Modern Plan was based on diagnosis and prior analyzes both qualitative and quantitative data. Also had a broad participatory process in which international experts, technicians, policy makers, labour unions, universities and the general public could participate through surveys, interviews, workshops or through the web page.

Hedmark

It is hard to give a clear answer to this, as so many policies and strategies are aimed at attracting new citizens in the municipality and/or region. Some approaches are obviously more evidence based than others. Still, there are some initiatives characterized by a very through analysis and data collection process. For example, prior to an update of regional plans, regional analysis was conducted. This was based on a so called ‘foresight’ method. This process included 994 people, six workshops and number of other meetings. The analysis was done by Eastern Norway Research Institute (ENRI (eng)/ØF (no)) and Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR) in close co-operation with Hedmark County Council.

Twente

The regional ambition of being an innovative region was in Twente early on linked with the problem of enough human capital, from the idea if we that If the region wants to further develop, we need the right people. What is specific for the Twente region is that it has strong policy and issue networks of private and public actor and a tradition in collective problem solving. Getting the right people is not only seen as a problem for individual organisations nor as a government problem of organising education to fulfil the demand of the labour market and the economy. In the development of the strategies the so-called Twente index, a yearly monitor of the socio-economic and labour market development, supported the policy decisions.

Basel

There are many policy activities related with talent attraction and retention. Studies for example have been conducted on quality of life for highly qualified people and on the situation of Expats.

Gelderland

There are no dedicated policies currently targeting the attraction and retaining of highly skilled labour. There is more attention for internationalisation and the improvement of general living and working conditions. An evidence based approach needs to be further developed. Given the spatial position of the province, close to the Randstad, the region benefits from a high level of labour circulation.

 

Transferable methodology of policy development and integration; improved approaches to policy integration and instrumentalisation, resulting in modernisation of policy-making

East Westphalia-Lippe

Within the BUTTON project IAT developed an overall human capital agenda. As there are several parallels between the human capital agenda and the strategy plan in EWL, the human capital agenda is meant to be a supplement rather then a new regional strategy.

 

Alex3

The IAT human capital agenda consists of 3 basic pillars: (1) regional attraction, (2) good job possibilities, (3) effective knowledge sharing. The measurement blocks are (1) mobilisation of untapped potential; (2) retention; (3) temporary attraction; (4) re-attraction and (5) attraction of skilled workers from outside.

For future activities the IAT suggested the following measures to EWL: (1) Employer Branding for SMEs, (2) Binding of Students to the region (warm place marketing) before they can leave, (3) the development of a open, tolerant and inclusive Welcome Culture (e.g. international school), (4) fostering of Temporal Migration (e.g. summer schools, summer universities).

 

 

Navarra

Thanks to the Button Project and specifically through Component 3C “Policy development and integration” it has developed a methodology of policy development and integration. This methodology has let analyze the talent situation in Navarra, what is the specific lack of talented people and what are the current activities related to the talent within the region. In conclusion what should be done within the region in talent.

Hedmark

There are several regions in Hedmark that have a so called warm marketing strategy projects. Warm marketing approaches people you  know from before, for regions this might be people living there earlier or been living there for shorter periods. These strategies recognize ‘talent’ as important to support regional-economic innovation. Even though this approach is work intensive, it seems like the outcome is worth the effort.

Twente

What make the initiatives in the Twente region particular interesting for other regions are:

  • The coupling with innovation strategies and regional ambition;
  • The bottom up development of strategies by a board group of public and private partners
  • The integral character of the approach, addressing brain flow problems for very different angels

Ten years of initiatives led eventually to a broadly supported integral human capital agenda Twente, implemented bij a variety of problem owners and actors.

Basel

The canton Basel-Stadt runs the project “Welcome to Basel” – The seven steps to get at home at Basel. Basel is commited to give every newcomer to this town a warm welcome. Newcomers get all the information they need to settle down in Basel and to get curious about their new environment.

 

Gelderland

Wageningen is leading in working towards a concerted policy approach targeting entrepreneurship, clustering Food Valley), knowledge exchange, labour market development and the position of expats. While the Wageningen context is specific, the comprehensive strategic nature of this approach deserves further attention.