Throughout Europe, SMEs, large companies, public administrations and other organisations are thinking talent first. European digital leaders are extremely mindful and aware of their talent challenges but often lack of knowledge or capacity about how to tackle them. Getting these talents entails cracking the city/region brand attractiveness for talents to come. Strong collaboration between local companies and public sector is one key to enable well-known brand to be investing locally and being a magnet for recruitment of talents for the future.
Retaining local talents: a collaborative process
The role of local universities, science parks and public research institutions should not be underestimated in the retention of local talents. In many cases, these academic institutions are worldclass clusters in several fields that make intensive use of ICT and therefore act as an incentive to retain local talents. In this regard, universities sometimes need to acquire or reinforce their expertise in particular areas to ensure their attractiveness. Strategies to implement the required changes include for instance the creation of partnerships with other academic institutions already renowned in the sought-after sector.
Public administration can also play a leading role in the retention of local digital talents. The engagement of the city of Espoo in the retention of the laidoff employees of Nokia was reflected by the creation of the “Task force for the structural change in the Metropolitan area”.
This network-based collaboration model gathered companies, educational institutions and career planning services. The aim of this collaborative action was to survey the skill and recruitment requirements of companies in the metropolitan area in order to provide advices and trainings to Nokia’s laid off employees on how to meet those requirements. The success of the initiative is illustrated by the high number of former Nokia employees who found new career paths and employment opportunities thanks to the program.
Promoting local talents, not factories or businesses
Some local or national governments focus too much on the promotion of headquarter offices, factory facilities or campus buildings rather than on the promotion of local talents. During the restructuration strategies of companies, public authorities should concentrate their efforts on the retention of regional talents in the territory. The ability to innovate and to enable the digital transformation strategy of a territory lays in the hands of the talented people working in the territory.
Developping regional digital skills assessments
The availability of regional skills assessment is critical to enable education providers to equip local students with the skill-sets required in the territory. A necessary ingredient in this type of strategies is the open data policy and approach including open cloud and other defined issues in this space. The “open data” issues – cloud, source, codes and platforms etc. is one very powerful tool in making the digital strategy go life for all living, working and visiting people of the territory.
Cross-border cooperation for a strong digital talent pipeline
WebForce3, the very first coding school of Luxembourg opened in November 2015. The coding school intends to provide jobseekers with the required skills to immediately work as integrators or junior developers after the 490 hours of training of the programme. The school is operated by the French digital campus “Numericall” located less than 100km across the French border.¹² By contributing to the training of web developpers on both side of the border. As evidenced by the progressive shift from ironmining to digital currency mining, Numericall aims to turn this historically industrial region to a digital territory.
Cluster excellence as a magnet for global digital talents
Intermediary organisations and clusters are cornerstones for the change of mindset towards innovation and digital transformation. The creation of incubators and accelerators are mainly privately-led initiatives which proved essential to foster open innovation and digital entrepreneurship in the city. In Espoo (Finland), the presence of clusters such as the gaming cluster or the health cluster is attracting different types of talents fromall around theworld
ICT CentralPoland Cluster
Created in July, 2012, the ICT Central Poland Cluster act as a means to raise awareness of the educational and career opportunities offered by the IT industry in the region of Lodz. ¹³ Through the creation of the cluster, Lodz University of Technology also aims to accelerate the uptake of ICT as an enabling technology for various sectors of the economy of the region.
Building a local brand to attract talents and investments
The development of a local brand results from the definition of a common vision and purpose for the city shared by all local stakeholders and especially by citizens. The creation of a local brand is not simply about the design of a slogan or a logo. It is about getting all the stakeholders engaged in the promotion of collaboration, experimentation and openness. The existence of a cultural vibrancy for the city recognised and legitimated by local residents has the capacity to increase the global reputation of any city which can ultimately attract talents and investments. In a digital transformation perspective, territorial leaders should think about the unique characteristics of their city and the digital strengths that could create a local community to drive a meaningful local brand. Strong collaboration between local companies and public sector is one key to enable a well-known brand to be investing locally and to become a magnet for the recruitment of talents. The ambition of the public sector is needed to co-create and collaborate with the digital industry in order to apply digital technology in all areas. If entrepreneurs get local clients, their likeliness to stay on the long-term in the city or the region increases dramatically. Clients increases the value of companies and make it easier to get next round of venture capital, they therefore enable companies to recruit talents. This is a solid base for making a positive story telling of the local city/region and this will attracttalents in different sectors.