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Economic competitiveness

[ Summary ]

 

Chapter 2:
Analysing an area’s economic competitiveness

 



2.1 Skills, know-how and technological mastery

 


a) Existing assets

    What skills and know-how already exist in the area? In other words, what are the characteristics of the local working population, including a description of their vocational qualifications?

    This skills inventory should not overlook the latent pool of labour, including women and young people. Neither should older people be forgotten, whether or not they are retired. While they are no longer considered as part of the working population, in many cases they have considerable untapped resources in terms of know-how, particularly traditional skills and/or skills that are dying out.

    The description of skills and know-how for territorial development should not be limited to an occupational breakdown of the working population. It must also include the players’ specific abilities in terms of initiative, links and contacts with the outside world, etc. Since it is not, of course, possible to analyse the entire population, it may be useful to focus on a few key players, such as project promoters, decision-makers, local leaders and prime movers in the area.

    In terms of potential, it may also be important to evaluate how an area’s working population is set to evolve: will it decline or, on the contrary, rise? This will depend not only on the demographic changes currently under way (ageing population or the reverse), but also on the possible arrival of new residents, on the ability of the players to secure information and training, etc.


b) Development practices

    How can local manpower, skills and know-how be developed?

    The first issues to consider are unemployment and the extent to which job supply matches demand. The latter is a key issue that calls for closer analysis: what are the skills for which there is a mismatch between supply and demand? Who is affected by unemployment?

    More generally, what is the occupational structure of the area’s working population? Is farming still a major employment sector? Are there structural employment deficits that can be resolved only by moving away to find jobs outside the area? What is the relative importance of part-time working and multiple job holding and of self-employment and family-run businesses? Also, what proportion of workers is in paid employment? By answering questions like these it is possible to describe the key characteristics of an area’s employment structure.

    Other more qualitative aspects must also be considered: which local skills have not been developed?


c) Organisational systems

    How do local players organise themselves in order to ensure the economic development of their area and to develop the human potential that it harbours? This raises a number of questions:

    • What are the systems for recruiting workers? Are any contractual adjustments made to suit local needs (e.g. job-sharing or employers’ pooling labour)?

    • What systems have been set up for vocational training? What are the procedures for promoting, recovering or updating traditional skills?

    • What relations are there with universities, research centres and other support bodies?

    • What potential do local players have for innovation? A quick “search” of the area could be carried out to identify the ideas and plans of local entrepreneurs in order to draw up an index of the area’s innovation potential.


d) Values

    What importance do local players place on the acquisition of skills and training? How are needs analysed? Do any forms of social dialogue exist between the two sides of industry to identify needs and set up suitable training?


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