Meet the ICC cities: Derry-Londonderry (Northern Ireland) and Pori (Finland)
Derry-Londonderry is Northern Ireland’s second-largest city. Its population is not just sizeable, but also very young, with one-third of the population under the age of 25. It shares this characteristic with the Finnish city of Pori, which transformed from a traditional industrial city into Finland’s digital education leader.
We spoke with Adam Goodall (ICC project manager) and Saverio Romero (ICC lead expert) from Derry-Londonderry, and Teemu Heino (external adviser to the ICC team) and Pauliina Harrivaara, (adviser to the ICC team) from Pori.
“For us, it was relatively easy to identify the Skills thematic as our main focus.”
Goodall described how Derry-Londonderry views skills as “a catalyst that will contribute to rebuilding a stronger, more competitive, resilient and inclusive economy. They can deliver higher paying jobs, a highly skilled and agile workforce, and a more regionally balanced economy”. Alongside upskilling and reskilling, Derry-Londonderry is also looking to focus on youth unemployment and digital skills.
“Progress against the odds”
The City Region’s hard work has resulted in them making “progress against the odds”, creating new jobs by attracting new businesses to the city and offering reskilling and upskilling opportunities for local citizens”. And their story does not end here. Greater ambitions are on the horizon as Derry-Londonderry wishes to take their transformation further “to support our local businesses and citizens to grow and fulfil their potential”.
Some of Derry-Londonderry’s ideas to develop their chosen ICC thematic track include:
- a marketing campaign on skills
- a unified training and mentoring opportunities portal
- open data models training for businesses in the city
- an Internet of Things/Industry 4.0 Derry Skill Consortium – a public-private consortium that focuses on promoting IoT technology in the city and to support training initiatives in this area.
Tried and tested solutions
Goodall and Romero believe the ICC is very important for the city because of the relevant information and insights that can be accessed and shared. They said, “it gives us the opportunity to exchange knowledge with other cities,” giving the example of the Metropolitan Region of Amsterdam’s impressive House of Skills.
The different pace of the cities on their ICC journeys was highlighted as a positive for Derry-Londonderry, as it means that more advanced cities “have addressed some of these challenges we’re being confronted with now”. This means that Derry-Londonderry will not only learn best practices but also “minimise risks by implementing solutions that were already tested and proved to be successful elsewhere”.
A team effort
While the City of Pori belongs to the green economy and local green deals thematic track, upskilling and reskilling has long been of interest to the city. They are also currently focusing on attracting talent and trying to create an ecosystem that supports reskilling. Working towards this goal requires a great collaborative effort. Pori excels at this by facilitating discussions between various parties in the supply chain, “skills needs within industry and technology companies are discussed together with representatives from the secondary education level, university degree organisations and business development service providers”.
“Pori is the number one city in Finland for digital education.”
Pori has also put their insights into skills building into practice. The city provides all students over the age of 9 with a laptop and Pori’s university offers a wide range of ICT courses. Because Pori believes that “the basis for success is up-to-date skills of employees”, the city also offers a broad range of initiatives related to upskilling and reskilling.
- It built a business intelligent management ecosystem, which supports industry and high-tech companies in finding the right talent.
- It relies on data analytics, which helps the educational institutions and providers to plan and execute more accurate upskilling and reskilling training programmes.
- It uses unified study paths from basic education to academic level on robotics and STEM studies. Circular economy principles and sustainability will be included in current curriculums.
- It has effective digital learning and teaching environments, as well as online courses for all target groups from basic education to academic level. New curricula combine digital education, on-the-job learning, AR/VR content and accessible online courses with the use of learning data and analytics.
- It uses a new, global innovation platform for research and development – RoboAI. This provides companies with product development services connected to automation, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) and start-up services to students and new entrepreneurs.
These initiatives hope to improve the awareness of the need for digital skills and the motivation to learn among the younger age groups. They also support the upskilling of workers in highly skilled specialist crafts, which are not offered by most training providers. Like Derry-Londonderry, Pori thinks that it is important to “attract and integrate talents in line with the regional needs”.
“I am proud of the skills Pori citizens have.” Teemu Heino
Despite its success, Pori is not complacent and strives to improve even more. Heino expressed some concerns though about a potential lack of motivation in the future. To address this problem, he believes that “We need to provide more motivation in education”. He cited the fact that only 5% of 15- to 16-year-olds want to learn STEM skills. This poses a potential issue for the future. Heino concluded that “we must do something to attract them”.
Raise awareness of our good work
Pori looks forward to the opportunity to network and learn from the other ICC cities and exchange ideas. “We expect to find partners and concrete ways to upskill/reskill and support the growth of local companies”. Pori added that ICC may be “a way to raise awareness of the good work we’ve been doing around this topic”.