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Harnessing Talent Platform: EURADA provides Technical Assistance in EU regions

Article written by María Midón - Project Officer

On 17 January 2023, the European Commission published a Communication on Harnessing Talent in Europe’s regions, identifying a series of regions facing a significant working age population decline, as well as a low share of people with a tertiary education, and notable departure of young people. 82 regions spanning across 16 Member States and representing almost 30% of the EU population were identified: 46 regions in a talent development trap and 36 at risk of falling into one.

As a response to this communication, the Talent Booster Mechanism was launched by the EC, composed of 8 Pillars representing a set of actions dealing with the aforementioned challenges, and the Harnessing Talent Platform (HTP) was published as a space for sharing knowledge and best practices in the demographic challenges that EU regions are facing today. In September 2023 an open call was published for those 46 regions from 11 Member States in a talent development trap to receive expert and personalised Technical Assistance in developing strategic thinking and actionable frameworks to tackle brain drain (Pillar 1).

After the 10 regions selected were announced during the November 2023 Harnessing Talent Platform launch event, a collective kick-off meeting took place in January 2024 online to present the Technical Assistance timeline of activities. The Technical Assistance will take place in two stages: A diagnostic stage from January to June 2024, dedicated to research, needs and gaps analysis, and planning the actions for the second stage. The second half of 2024 will be dedicated to the implementation stage, where the research and planning carried out by the HTP Team, formed by topical and regional experts on the topic, will be put into practice in each region.

After initial desk research and collaboration with the selected regions, bilateral kick-off meetings at each of the regions’ premises were organised. These meetings took place in March 2024, and presented an opportunity to discuss regional strategies that deal with talent harnessing, identifying the areas of focus for the Technical Assistance. EURADA is part of the Technical Assistance Team (TA Team) and is closely supporting 3 regions: Puglia in Italy, Alentejo in Portugal and Peloponnese in Greece.


The region of Puglia

Puglia was selected among the multiple eligible Italian regions for receiving the Technical Assistance. Similar to the other regions, Puglia faces a set of challenges such as a decline of the working-age population, a low share of tertiary educated individuals, and a degradation of the job market and quality of life. Desk research and information provided by the Puglia regional authorities led the TA Team to discover that the region counts with multiple strategies, from Smart Specialisation to Rural Development Programs.

However, the most interesting for the TA Team was #mareAsinistra, a thoroughly developed strategy for attracting talent in Puglia. The bilateral kick-off meeting that took place between the TA Team and multiple public authorities and stakeholders in the region presented a valuable opportunity to find out more about this strategy and how it was developed. Joining the TA Team, Eleonora Sette and Lara Porciatti from our member Art-ER attended the meeting as topical experts, having directly contributed to the Regional Law for attracting and retaining talent in the Emilia Romagna region.

Over the course of two days, the TA Team met with around 74 stakeholders in the region. A first meeting was held solely with members of the regional authorities (7 participants), while a second meeting included around 15 regional authorities involving the president of the region and the directors of the different regional departments. The second day, the team met with 52 stakeholders coming from different organisations, such as research centres, syndicates, civil society organisations or universities.

The meeting demonstrated that a significant number of stakeholders in the regional administration are “on-board” and willing to do their part for the implementation of #mareAsinistra. Within this promising context, the TA Team has identified multiple aspects in which support is needed to further the impact of the strategy.

Follow-up meetings are currently taking place within the TA Team and with the Puglia regional authorities with the goal of planning next steps and drafting a strategic roadmap prior to the implementation stage of the Technical Assistance.


The region of Alentejo

The selection of Alentejo as a recipient of Technical Assistance under Pillar 1 of the Talent Booster Mechanism was announced by Commissioner Elisa Ferreira on the 23rd of November 2023, at the launch event for the Harnessing Talent Platform. Since then, a series of activities and conversations have taken place between the TA Team and the Alentejo Regional Development Coordination Commission (CCDR) to arrange a physical meeting in the region in the month of March 2024.

During the physical meeting, the TA Team met with around 35 stakeholders in the region over two days. A first meeting was held solely with members of the regional authorities in the region, while a second meeting included regional stakeholders (such as university representatives, firm-owners, education & training representatives, and municipal representatives). This session provided an opportunity to enhance understanding of institutional responsibilities, reflections on past initiatives, and current activities. Of particular relevance is the presence of the regional development agency of Alentejo (ADRAL), which shared insights on its competences within the region and potential contributions to the region's talent strategy. Our member ADRAL is also part of the Harnessing Talent Platform's working group on Territorial Development, adding value to the region's talent strategy development.

During the second day, a meeting was held with the representatives of the Municipality of Évora for a presentation of Évora27 European Capital of Culture. The meetings concluded with a visit to the Construction Area for the “Hospital Central do Alentejo” and a discussion with various representatives involved in the development.


The region of Peloponnese

To delve further as to the regional context of Peloponnese, a similar physical meeting took place in the city of Tripoli (Peloponnese’s capital city) in the month of March 2024. In the lead-up to this in-person meeting with Peloponnese, several key actions were undertaken. Firstly, intelligence gathering took place through desk research, questionnaire design, and information sharing with the regional authority representative. This resulted in the acquisition of crucial documents such as the “Explanatory note for the Smart Specialisation Strategy (RIS3) of the Region of Peloponnese in the 2021-2027 Programming Period” and calls for proposals related to business support and innovation hubs. During the meeting, the TA Team engaged with approximately 50 stakeholders, including regional authorities, university representatives, business owners, and education officials, with the Governor of Peloponnese also in attendance.

Several key takeaways emerged from the meetings which reflect the central challenge that the region is facing related to their demographics. For instance, the working-age population has been shrinking by an annual average of 0.88% since 2015. At this rate, the population of Peloponnese between 15 and 64 is forecasted to decrease by around 21,000 people over the next decade (or 3.9% of the total current population). This low population density consequently presents challenges in the provision of public goods, such as healthcare, transport, or educational services.

The kick-off meetings that took place in March 2024 within the context of the Technical Assistance proved to be enriching and informative to both the TA Team and the stakeholders from each region, kickstarting the collaboration that is to come in the remainder of 2024.  Before the summer holidays, strategic roadmaps will be drafted for all selected regions, which will be put into practice during the second semester of 2024. Additionally, Pillar 1 of the Talent Booster Mechanism will interact with other Pillars in the sharing of best practices and lessons learnt, and the co-creation of knowledge that will prove valuable to the selected regions.

Visit the Harnessing Talent Platform for more information, or contact Roberta Dall’Olio, Ivana Rae Almora or María Midón from the EURADA Secretariat.