The kick-off meeting of the Partnership Jobs and Skills in the Local Economy took place on 22 February 2017 in Brussels. The Coordinators presented the Draft Orientation Paper and a work plan was established for the coming months. The Members discussed about the six focus areas - and dedicated working groups - of the Partnership:
- Next Economy:
The main goal of this group will be to analyse the transition of cities and regions with a strong industrial and often fossil fuel base to an economy based on knowledge, sustainable energy, digital platforms and more localised and circular forms of production.
- Jobs and Skills:
In the 21st century, job and skills are changing and employers ask for a highly qualified workforce, experts and capacities, so as to foster higher productivity, creativity and innovation. The inclusiveness of labour markets must be ensured; this must include the entire education circle, including lifelong learning systems.
- Public Services:
Public services provide the most common interface between people, entrepreneurs and local administrations and at the same time, these should support economic activities. The quality of public services represents a condition to attract and to maintain investors and skilled labour force.
- Valorisation of research and development (R&D):
This subgroup will explore the commercialisation of the results of scientific research and the development of R&D in cooperation with entrepreneurs and the research community.
- Business Location:
This group will focus the (re)development of business parks and office locations based on the needs of companies and entrepreneurs, both existing and new. This includes transport and communication, networks such as water, waste, sewage, energy.
- Effective local governance:
The aim of this subgroup is to ensure the local preconditions for entrepreneurs to improve their eficiency and, at the same time, use the local potential in a sustainable way.
There are cross-cutting issues behind these six topics, such as inclusion in the time of economic change. An issue the Partnership showed to be very aware of was the threat of low-skilled workforce to be left behind because of the new demands of the labour market. One of the main debates during the kick-off meeting focused on how the work of the Partnership could generate concrete outputs and outcomes. It was held that the Partnership should submit an Action Plan with specific actions and avoid redundancy. Another point raised by the Members was that due to the broad scope of the Partnership topic with a lot of relevant sub-themes, focus on some critical topics would be necessary in order to reach effective results.