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Published on 23 de October, 2015 at Cities and Regions

Talent, creative classes, opportunities and cities

By Francesc Quintana
3 min read

Some years ago, it started a serious debate on talent. With the coming of knowledge society, the chance of generating new economic activity it entails the ability to attract talent and retain the new creative class as it was described by Richard Florida in 2005. Consequently, from a public perspective of fostering local economy and from the private willingness to develop new products and services for new markets, it is required some kind of local strategy to attract creative class members and the talent they bear in order to create growth and widespread welfare.

It is the struggle to attract and retain talent that has arisen among metropolitan areas, given that these are the only ones capable of providing a valuable environment for the creative class. Is there any metropolitan areas strategy to attract and retain talent? Yes. Canada provides a good case in point.

However, let’s review briefly what are the four key elements of a strategy allowing metropolitan areas to gain some advantage in the race for attracting and retaining talent in a globalized world.

  • First, it is radically important to put people at the core. Talent attraction and retention implies to provide adequate accommodate for the individual: housing, no bureaucratic problems regarding immigration laws, fundamental social services like health and education, quality of the urban environment, a tolerant society and the like. Professional development is thus secured and reinforced by social integration. This first strategic requirement basically corresponds to the definition of public policies city government
  • Secondly, it is needed a partnership between knowledge society entities: corporations with an awesome ability to innovate, research centers, universities, international reference bodies in the field of economy, politics, science and technology, culture, health, arts and so on. Each entity should be willing to participate in a joint strategy for increasing centrality in their own metropolis. Therefore, the metropolis will become a powerful node in the international network of talent flows. Additionally, it leads to building of an environment where local talent flourishes. This second strategic requirement means consensus creation and it is a public private partnership
  • Thirdly, drivers for change should be identified for each entity in a coordinated talent retention strategy. This would be the second phase within the public – private partnership, where each entity should identify their improvement areas. Universities and research centers should review its role in attracting international talent. Do they export knowledge? Do they relevant within the students and researchers international mobility flows? Which instruments to they have to attract and retain the best students and the most reputed researchers? Large corporations, hospitals, think tanks and similar entities should consider similar questions. A coordinated agenda should be implemented aiming at the same goal.
  • Finally, some questions about the governance system. It means commitment and to exercise their own responsibility towards a common goal. What should be the elements of monitoring, evaluation of results and accountability for the joint strategy in attracting and retaining talent? Who governs it? Maybe it is required a new functionality for the government bodies responsible for promoting metropolitan economic development and to guarantee success.

Actually, metropolitan regions that put the issue of attracting and retaining talent on the public agenda are seen as the better placed in the global arena.


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