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How medium sized cities can generate new employment opportunities, prepare workers for jobs, and address mismatches between the supply of labour and demand for workers

The impact of economic recessions is not unique to medium sized cities. However, they tend to be affected by the consequences of economic and financial crises with a higher intensity than large metropolitan areas as a fall in economic activity, increased unemployment and limited development perspectives accelerate the concentration of economic activities in large conurbations.

In times of recession, businesses are forced to downsize, relocate or cease trading altogether. As medium sized cities often depend on a small number of major employers, this trend has a very negative impact on the cities' overall economy:

- growing unemployment leading to an increased demand for social services (often provided by the local authority)

- loss of revenue for local authorities leading to a re-direction of resources to frontline services thus reducing the capacity for infrastructure development, recovery initiatives and support to businesses

- displacement of qualified and skilled staff as medium sized cities do not have the capacity to absord this additional workforce

The ESIMeC challenge is therefore to find innovative ways to enable medium sized cities to fare better in times of recession.

Capitalising on the assets and specificities of medium sized cities (better quality of life, quality leisure and cultural facilities, higher flexibility to implement new projects and initiatives, etc.) is key to ensure sustainable growth and better resilience during economic and financial downturns.

Placing their main asset, their people, at the heart of their strategies, the ESIMeC partners will explore how workforce development and demand-led skills initiatives can ensure sustainable economic recovery, growth and resilience in medium sized cities.

The key questions ESIMeC will address are:

- Who should be involved in demand-led skills strategies? How to engage key stakeholders?

- How to forecast new and evolving employer skills needs?

- How can a skilled workforce help the positioning of medium sized cities?

- How can medium sized cities help their citizens value higher education and skills and raise aspirations?

- How can medium sized cities fund workforce development in a context of public sector budget restrictions?

- How can medium sized cities ensure that workforce development is progressed alongside major urban redevelopment projects?

What motivates you to be part of the URBACT adventure ?

To remain competitive, towns and cities across Europe must work together and exchange knowledge, information and good practices. Working in isolation simply isn't possible any longer in an ever globalised world.

By working with partner cities that share the same priorities and aspirations, we will be able to be more innovative and creative thus ensuring our cities remain vibrant and modern and contribute to the overall economic development of Europe.

Who would you like to benefit from the work achieved in your project?

In the first instance, the network will enable partner cities to benefit from their mutual experience and expertise through sharing information and applying innovative and good practices in terms of economic and workforce development to their local context.

On the longer term, we would like to develop a model of development that can be adapted to suit the situation and specificities of other medium sized cities across Europe ensuring that medium sized cities play a key role in Europe's economic development and global competitiveness.

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