The majority of the EU population lives in an urban environment. EU Member States are facing a sharp decline of their working age population. This population has decreased by 3.5 million people between 2015 and 2020 and is expected to shed an additional 35 million people by 2050.
82 regions in 16 Member States (accounting for almost 30% of the EU population) are severely affected by this decline of the working age population, a low share of university and higher-education graduates, or a negative mobility of their population aged 15-39.
If left unaddressed, this transition will trigger new and growing territorial disparities as regions age and fall behind in number and skills of their workforce. So, what can the EU do?
As its first key initiative in 2023 contributing to the European Year of Skills the European Commission launched the ‘Talent Booster Mechanism’ on 17 January 2023.
The Talent Booster Mechanism is based on the following 8 pillars:
- A new pilot project will be launched in 2023 to help regions facing a ‘talent development trap’ to elaborate, consolidate, develop and implement tailored and comprehensive strategies, as well as to identify relevant projects, to train, attract and retain skilled workers. Support will be provided to pilot regions selected on the basis of an open call.
- A new initiative on ‘Smart adaptation of regions to demographic transition’ will kick off in 2023 to help regions with higher rates of departure of their young people to adapt to the demographic transition and invest in talent development through tailored place-based policies. Benefiting regions will be selected on the basis of an open call.
- The Technical Support Instrument (TSI) will support Member States, upon demand under the TSI 2023 call, with reforms at national and regional level, necessary to address the shrinking of the working-age population, the lack of skills and respond to local market needs.
- Cohesion Policy programmes and the Interregional Innovation Investments will stimulate innovation and opportunities for high-skill jobs and thus contribute improving possibilities to retain and attract talents in these regions.
- A new call for innovative actions will be launched under the ‘European Urban Initiative‘ to test place-based solutions led by shrinking cities that address the challenges of developing, retaining and attracting skilled workers.
- EU initiatives that support the development of talents will be signposted on a dedicated webpage. This will provide easier access to information to interested regions about EU policies in areas such as research and innovation, training, education, and youth mobility.
- Experiences will be exchanged and good practices will be disseminated: regions will have the possibility to set up thematic and regional working groups to address specific professional or territorial challenges.
- The analytical knowledge required to support and facilitate evidence-based policies on regional development and migration will be further developed.