03 November 2022

On 19 October, the Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) and DG Grow organised a public workshop in collaboration with the European Vocational Skills Week. The event was aimed to inspire and share ideas on how cities and local economies can support reskilling their workforce under the Pact for Skills, to succeed in the green and digital transition.

The online workshop saw a variety of speakers including EU officials, experts and representatives from the cities of Skellefteå (Sweden), Patras (Greece) and Derry (Ireland)

Moderator Dana Eleftheriadou (Head of Cities and Proximity Team, DG GROW, European Commission) opened the conversation by giving a brief background, introducing Diana Spiridon (Team Leader for Adult Skills, DG EMPL) who provided an opening speech for the group giving a brief overview of the Pact for Skills and its partnerships. She also presented a roadmap for how these initiatives can be implemented and the impact they have on a city/local economy.

Opportunities for Cities under the Pact


Elfa Ķere (Policy Officer, Tourism, DG GROW) presented the impact the EU Pact for Skills can have on tourism. Tourism is part of the 14 industrial ecosystems under the European Skills Agenda, with a strong focus on tailored National/Regional/Local Skills Partnerships (NRLSPs). It is cross-sectoral: 1/3 is composed of education; 1/3 of regional authorities and 1/3 of industry. One of the main actions for the Transition Pathway for Tourism, under the resilience dimension, is to develop NRLSPs with existing tourism sectors to use these skills to boost local tourism and economies. Awareness building on skills needs and training courses will also be undertaken.

Culture and Creative Industries (CCIs)

The conversation was handed over to Ilona Lelonek Husting (Policy Officer, Proximity, Social Economy, Creative Industries, DG GROW) who focused on how CCIs can be a driving force for local economies. Since the launch in April 2022, there have been 102 committed organisations from diverse sectors. The CCIs Large-Scale skills partnership is co-led with BEDA, Creative Skills Europe, European Creative Business Network to boost management, funding, business, and entrepreneurial skills in the creative fields.

Proximity and Social Economies (P&SE)

Marie Boscher (Policy Officer – Social Economy, DG GROW) showed the impact effect the EU Pact for Skill can have when focused on proximity and social economies. With over 170 organisations involved Marie emphasised the importance of improving the P&SE skills and adapting to the changing digital environment. The creation of a Focus group dedicated to structured stakeholder partnership will contribute towards this through objectives such as improving skills intelligence in the ecosystem.


Roman Horvath (Policy Officer – Sustainable Industrial Policy and Construction, DG GROW) explained how construction is a key sector to achieve the twin transition objectives. He outlined some of the challenges such as a fragmented industry and strong shortage of (skilled) workers in almost all Member States. These will be partly addressed through financing Member States using EU funds (Cohesion Policy 2021-2027 and National Recovery and Resilience Plans 2021-2026). Under the Construction Blueprint, objectives such as building strong partnerships and promoting a culture of lifelong learning for all are laid out. The overall goal is increasing skills in the industrial industry to have a large impact on the local economic output and at the national level.

Cities Experiences

Representatives from the ICC cities then shared the experiences and steps taken in their cities to address the skills gap and prepare the workforce for the transition into the jobs of the future.

Skellefteå openly shared its experiences with the implementation of its gigafactory – Northvolt. This Swedish start-up creates Li-Ion battery cells for European needs. The project has seen many achievements such as having 20 partners in 11 countries, allowing the construction of 1500 new houses in the area and creating numerous education programmes - from university master programmes to technician level local programmes. Still, the city deals with numerous issues such as the need for both hard and soft skills in combination, attracting young people and practically working a gigafactory as new environment.

The city of Patras’ strong focus on technological and digital solutions was shared. This has been implemented through: a vivid ecosystem of high-tech start-ups combined with very few mid-sized companies in state-of-the art technologies, three universities and three highly competent research centres/ institutes and co-working spaces and incubators.

Finally, Derry described its centres dedicated to digital reskilling, including: CIDRA (innovation research centre in Industrial digitalisation, robotics and automation) and CARL (Applied Research Centre bringing together data analytics and AI). The city’s main challenges include being a young city with high proportion of long term unemployed under 25, the impact of Brexit, and the digital divide (namely the growth of ICT sector, automation, increased digitalisation). Derry is working hard to promote local tech careers through training industrial collaborations on digi-tech, skills academies and collaborations in ICC with other mentor and core cites (Amsterdam, Pori, Ventspils).

The ICC thanks the speakers and attendees who were able to join the meeting and the partnership with European Vocational Skills Week 2022.