As we entered 2014, over 26m people were still unemployed in Europe - one in ten of the economically active people did not have a job. There have been signs of recovery but it seems likely that this will be an unequal recovery with some winners and some losers.
There is also a massive increase in temporary (precarious) employment in some countries. In Spain, for example, over 60% of young people in employment are on short term contracts against the EU average of just under 40% for young people. At the same time employers continue to report recruitment difficulties and a shortage of talent in the labour market so we are, in some countries, in a seemingly contradictory situation where unemployment and vacancies are both on the rise.
The ESIMeC II project continues to have a clear focus on the unique position of medium sized cities. The partners involved will be focusing on how best to put long-term workforce development strategies in place in their cities, placing equal emphasis on the demand side of the labour market (what employers want from workers now and in the future) as on the supply side (how to ensure that people are prepared for 21st century jobs).
Each partner city has identified the main challenges they are facing in delivering their Local Action Plan (LAP), some of these are unique to individual city or country contexts but others are common to all and as such can be usefully addressed through transnational exchange and learning. 5 common challenges have been identified and will be focused on throughout the project:
- Stakeholder engagement - how can we foster effective and ongoing involvement from local stakeholders in the delivery of our Local Action Plans?
- Maintaining momentum - how can we maintain the momentum in delivering our LAP amidst other competing priorities and a context of reduced resources?
- Recogntion of informal skills and competencies - how do we understand, define and recognise the informal skills and competencies of our people?
- Smart financing - how can we do more with less?
- Effective data collection and measuring impact - how do we define the change we seek to achieve through our LAPs? How do we ensure that the data we collect is effective, relevant and meaningful?