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Rural Vision
News article23 January 2023Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy

Harnessing talent in Europe – rural areas in the spotlight

The EU is going through important demographic transition, as underlined in the Commission Staff working document “The impact of demographic change – in a changing environment”, published on 17 January 2023.

This demographic transition brings challenges, as an ageing population, a shrinking working-age population and population decline more generally, as well as increasing regional disparities, including a growing urban-rural divide. Indeed, some - predominantly rural and less developed, EU regions are experiencing an accelerated reduction of their working age population and lag behind in developing, attracting and/or retaining the talents needed for their development. This combination of challenges may impede their capacity to build sustainable, competitive and knowledge-based economies, and puts them at a higher risk of failing to catch up with more advanced regions.

Harnessing talent in Europe's regions

The cornerstone of EU principles is ensuring that all Europeans have the same possibilities, regardless of the region in which they were born. Innovation and education play a crucial role in ensuring that all EU regions, especially rural areas, have a supportive innovation ecosystem and a talent pool that is well-prepared for their future competitiveness and prosperity.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth - 17/01/2023

The Communication on Harnessing talent in Europe’s regions, adopted by the Commission on the same day as the report on “The impact of demographic change”:

  • sets out the drivers and consequences of regional disparities on talents/skills;
  • outlines targeted solutions to attract or retain talent in rural areas with a view to transform shrinking regions into more dynamic, talent-driven, locations and to help stimulate urban-rural linkages; and
  • launches the “Talent Booster Mechanism”, as the first key initiative in 2023 contributing to the European Year of Skills, aiming to bring a fresh impetus for re- and upskilling.

In addition to existing or announced EU initiatives and policies, this new dedicated eight pillar-mechanism will help to boost talent in regions most at risk of facing a talent development trap, meaning not having a population with the right set of skills.

Under the mechanism, a dedicated portal will be set-up, to provide a comprehensive access to all pillars (s. below more information about the 8 pillars) to regions and stakeholders.

What will  the “Talent Booster Mechanism” do?

  1. A new pilot, in the form of a technical support to selected regions, will help regions facing a talent development trap elaborate, consolidate, develop and implement strategies to train, attract and retain talents.
  2. A new initiative“Smart adaptation of regions to demographic transition” will help regions at risk of a talent development trap elaborate new approaches to demographic transition and talent development.
  3. The Technical Support Instrument (TSI) will continue to offer the possibility for Member States to design and implement reforms at national and regional level. See also the help provided by the Commission under the TSI 2023 call.
  4. Direct financial assistance will be provided under existing instruments.
  5. In order to stimulate innovation and opportunities for high skills jobs, regions facing difficulties in retaining and attracting talent will be taken into account under the calls for proposals of the Interregional Innovation Investments instrument (I3), by providing advisory and financial support to innovation projects in joint smart specialisation areas. The European Urban Initiative - a comprehensive tool funded by the ERDF supporting cities of all sizes – is available to build capacity and knowledge, to support innovation and develop transferable and scalable innovative solutions to urban challenges of EU relevance.
  6. Signposting to EU initiatives that can support the development of talent.
  7. Exchange of experiences and dissemination of good practices. A variety of practices already in place in some regions could inspire others. Regions will be able to set up thematic and regional working groups to address, in a more tailored manner, specific professional or territorial challenges. The dissemination of good practices will also build on the outcome of existing platforms, such as the Territorial Just Transition Platform or the rural revitalisation platform, addressing regions and territories facing common challenges.
  8. Increase analytical knowledge in order to support evidence-based policies on regional development and migration and facilitate policy making. The work carried out by the Joint Research Centre on the Regional Social Scoreboard will be continued. The Commission (Eurostat) will also invite Member States to provide more comprehensive statistical data on population movements within the EU, in particular regional migration flows, broken down by age and gender. Furthermore, data on the location of essential services within the EU, such as education and healthcare, will be collected to provide valuable research and information to stakeholders on how to address the key challenges for social cohesion and just transition.