This presentation will focus on one of the policy priorities shared by cities across Europe – how to create sufficient employment opportunities for our young people. I’m going to focus on the ways in which URBACT is helping cities to tackle this chronic problem. First of all we’ll unpack the challenge and look at some of the drivers behind it – familiar territory to many of you, I imagine. Then, we’ll look at two sets of URBACT activity. First, we’ll focus on the projects which relate to this theme. Then we’ll look at our ‘capitalisation’ work – generating key messages at the programme level – drawing on experience and findings across the programme. Finally, we’ll examine the ways in which being part of the URBACT programme can help city stakeholders to tackle this challenge more effectively.
The image shows a young man standing outside a London underground station last winter. He is one of Europe’s 5.6 million unemployed young people – many of them highly qualified. Th erate is 23% - with more than double the rate of unemployed adults. Eurofound has calculated that this waste of talent costs Europe €153billion – 1.2% of the EU GDP. The reasons behind this are often decsribed as a ‘perfect storm’. The Global Economic Crisis has exacerbated the gloablisation process already well established where jobs – especially manufacturing jobs – are being off-shored. Automation is another factor driving job losses. Two thirds of what we consume today did not exist 25 years ago. The pace of change is relentless – and will continue, with driverless cars etc The scale of economic change is hard for employers to understand, and difficult to predict the skills they will need. Many employers complain that schools do not equip children with the right skills. Across the EU, education systems are struggling to adapt – education reforms in nearby Estonia therefore very interesting. The Baltic states are familiar with another chalenge which is that of retaining the best and brightest young people. Fluent in English, entrepreneurial and well-qualified, many cities struggle to find sufficient opportunities to keep them at home. Added to this, older people are having to work longer in many parts of Europe, providig competition to younger workers trying to get started. And in some Member States, labour market regulations favour older workers, and make it difficult for younger people to access secure and better paid opportunities.
The map, which you have already seen, shows the URBACT projects. In the current round we have three networks addressing different aspects of the youth employment challenge. My Generation at Work is exploring the need for enterprising attitudes in all walks of life. Led by Rotterdam, it is exploring issue like ‘shared spaces’ bringing young entrepreneurs together. For example, in Turin, Italy, the local authority is actively supporting the creation of social enterprises led by young people. The PREVENT network, led by Nantes (France) if addressing our problem upstream, by looking at ways to reduce school drop out rates. They are focused on working with parents, and Stockholm, Antwerp and others are doing interesting work with migrant parents. The third project is Jobtown, led by Cesena in Italy. One of their priorities is working more effectively with employers and they also have an interest in vocational education – for example the German Dual System has been an important focal point.
The My Generation at Work project builds upon an earlier one led also led by Rotterdam. These networks have been instrumental at involving young people centrally in city project development. For example in Riga, the development of the Youth Council, was a direct result of this collaboration. Recognising the need for different outputs aimed at different audiences, the project has pioneered a variety communication products, including comics, videos and reports tailored for tablet computers. This image captures the idea of the shared project journey.
In the current programme, URBACT has supported two sets of workstream activity. Through this, we work with city ‘thinkers’ and ‘doers’ across Europe to gather and share evidence of what works. Two of these workstreams – one completed and the other still under way – have related to young people and jobs. The shared questions for both of these has been “What can cities do?”. The first workstream explored the scope for cities to employ social innovation to improve young people’s prospects. With one eye on the additional €6billion of EU funds being targeted at young people, it urged the need to be more creative, take risks and try new things. It referred to Nantes, which is using public sector procurement as a way to ring-fence opportunities for local people. It also illustrated successful examples from Rotterdam and Berlin in empowering young people and involving them in decision making. From Riga, we also heard how voluntary sector agencies like Ghetto Games were playing a key role connecting disengaged young people to public support services. Our ongoing workstream has identified two important themes for cities to address. The first is gathering better intelligence on the real state of play relating to youth employment. For example, the ESIMEC project led by Basingstoke has developed a skills forecasting tool, to help cities predict the skills required in the local economy. The second workstream theme focuses on the need to actively engage employers, without whom there are no jobs. From their evidence sessions, they highlight the work being done in Swedish cities with the Swedbank model, which works with the bank and other employers to provide quality internships for young people.
So, what can cities do to tackle the youth employment challenge? And how can URBACT help them do it better? URBACT provides many examples of what cities can do, and perhaps most importantly, there is clear message that cities can make a difference for young people, even when faced with an apparently global challenge. So, the programme allows cities to identify and collaborate with others facing the same problems. The programme provides a space for learning and exchange. It is also worth underlining that at a time when funds are tight, the programme offers space and a green light for innovation. We consistently hear that being part of URBACT is a valuable experience for participants. Working together with transnational partners, focused on the same theme, it provides opportunities for learning by doing. Through access to examples of good practice in other cities, it can provide valuable insights into the way ion which other cities are tackling shared problems. And beyond this network experience – the foundation of our programme – URBACT has strengthened its capacity building activities in the current programme. Through the National Training Schemes and the Summer Universities, URBACT is equipping city stakeholders with relevant skills and tools to use in their work. This recognises the challenges city stakeholders face, as they are asked to achieve more with less, and to find new ways of making limited resources go further. This important pillar of our work – which includes capacity building for elected officials – will continue into the next programme.
This final slide comes from a series of posters created by our Generation Jobs workstream. I’ve chosen to finish on this because for me it symbolizes the way URBACT works and the faith we have in cities to find solutions to the most difficult challenges. As you will see, the key message is that although there are 6 million young people out of work in Europe, there is hope for the future. The coming decade will see the creation of 80 million job opportunities, the majority of which will be created in cities – the drivers of the European economy. So, the future is not as gloomy as we might think, and we hope that some of you will join us on that journey during the new programme period.
URBACT InfoDays Spain, Madrid 25 Nov 2014, presentation by Eddy Adams
URBACT Info Day Spain
25th November 2014, Madrid
“The youth and Jobs Challenge”
The Youth and Jobs challenge: City headlines
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• Fewer jobs
• Skills mismatch
• Talent/brain drain
• Demographic squeeze
• Labour market
How cities are using URBACT to respond
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Distilling key messages…URBACT
• Need for supply side
innovation & risk taking
• Value of having young
people involved in
• Importance of better
• Placing employers at the
centre of city plans
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Through URBACT, cities are addressing the
youth/jobs issue through…
› Having resources and space to innovate
› Learning by doing – peer to peer collaboration
› Seeing is believing (access to good practice examples)
› Building stakeholder capacity (through USU, NTS etc)
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