Talent development, retention and recruitment are priorities for many economic development leaders. A report* released last year described ways economic development agencies are pushing the envelope on talent initiatives. 

One way they are doing so is connecting job seekers and existing workers to more affordable housing, child care and transportation options. While the report notes these services are normally the purview of other agencies, economic developers get involved because employers – especially those that employ the least skilled workers — often “urgently need these services.”

The report also addresses the role economic developers play in recruiting and retaining highly skilled and mobile talent. During last week’s RESER-CoVal conference I learned about an initiative in Germany that combines similar support services with efforts to attract skilled workers and companies to rural areas.  

The KoAktiv demonstration project strives to increase the attractiveness of the Balingen region for businesses and employees by developing cooperative business models that facilitate supportive health services for the children and relatives of workers. The project’s objective is to identify solutions to the challenge of combining work and caregiving needs in exceptional and crisis situations. The underlying concept is that this type of valued service offering may make it more compelling for people to relocate to areas that otherwise struggle to attract workers. Partners in this initiative include Fraunhofer IAO, the University of Stuttgart, city of Balingen, and several health organizations. 

This unique approach to addressing talent shortages caught my attention, but it is only one of many efforts using co-creation methods to transform public services and advance policy objectives in new ways. 

Co-VAL is an EU funded project that aims to find new ways of examining the co-creation of value and its integration in order to transform public administration services and processes


* Beyond Training: How State Economic Development Agencies Are Helping Companies Development Talent. Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness. July 2019