The objective of this international conference was to reflect on the issues of attracting and retaining talents in the territories as a factor for the development of the endogenous potential of these territories. The conference took place on 7 February 2018 at Viana do Castelo, Portugal. A follow-up event is now envisaged for October 2018, to be co-organised with LDnet and other partners, on the theme of “Integrated local development strategies to retain and attract talents in regions”.
The challenge of attracting and retaining talents, especially young people and especially in sparsely populated areas, has become a recurring theme for regional and local authorities struggling to increase their talent pool as a way to ensure their prosperity.
As a result of this challenge, regions and localities increasingly need to take steps to attract talent and fix those who are already there, which means controlling the so-called “brain drain”. Regions need to be proactive in establishing long-term policies for attracting and securing populations.
One of the most successful local economic development strategies follows the triple helix model based on building a partnership between the public sector, the business sector and the academic world. These four types of partners have recently joined the civil society indispensable to the social cohesion of the model. In order to pursue the goal of retaining the talents, especially young people, it is absolutely essential to consider their participation in these partnerships.
A study carried out by the Swedish Institute, in the context of the One Baltic Sea Region project, has investigated factors of attraction of young people in that region and concluded that the main reasons for people to leave the regions are:
- Lack of career opportunities and low wages
- Lack of employment for partners
- Non-social and / or professional integration of the person concerned and his / her family
- Practical problems related to bureaucracy, housing, insurance, bank accounts, among others
- Communication problems (for foreigners)
Part of the answer to these challenges is to increase the resilience of the territories and for incorporating it in the planning in order that it combines the capacities of absorption, adaptation and transformation of the families and the communities while paying attention to the well-being and the quality of life of groups of people and individuals affected by these challenges are not compromised (risk management is a relevant factor in reducing vulnerability and poverty).
In the case of the Alto Minho population dynamics is characterized by the decrease of the proportion of the young population to the detriment of the increase of the proportion of the elderly, posing challenges to the demography in what concerns the capacity of the region to be able to restore or attract population to reverse this trend. (Integrated Strategy for Territorial Development – EIDT “Alto Minho 2020”).
In this context, and taking into account the great economic crisis of which the region is progressively distancing itself, it is absolutely necessary to reflect on the most pressing challenges the communities are facing and to value the endogenous potentialities to incorporate in the strategies to overcome the problems in an effective and efficient way as well as to overcome the catastrophes by retaining populations, creating employment and boosting the local economy.
The rural areas of low demographic and economic density are today those with a significant potential for higher distinctive development, based on very different territorial, environmental, rural, cultural, social and symbolic identity values, with conditions for economic and social diversification.
Thus, it was the objective of this international conference to reflect on the issues of attracting and retaining talents in the territories as a factor for the development of the endogenous potential of these territories. This reflection shared by all relevant actors in the Alto Minho region and other regions of Portugal with similar problems was based on inputs from other regions whose strategies have been successful in facing the so-called challenges. At the end of the conference ideas have emerged on the guidelines for the elaboration of an Action Plan for the Alto Minho region, which could also be used by other regions facing the same challenges.