Águeda is looking for solutions to attract youngsters to the manufacturing industry so to increase and maintain the levels of employment and economical dynamic in the city.
The social challenge launched by the City of Àgueda is related to the recruitment of qualified workers into the traditional manufacturing local industry in order to increase and maintain in the long term the levels of employment and the economic dynamics of the city. Águeda is one of the most industrialized municipalities in the central region of Portugal, having a high industrial tradition. The manufacturing sector plays an important role in the municipality´s local economy and employment -72.4% of the employed population work in the manufacturing industry and almost 60% of Águeda's sales come from this sector.
Although most of the companies based in Águeda work for other brands in a subcontracting logic, this reality is changing with the affirmation of their brand at national, European and world level. This, however, poses new challenges to the industrial sector, i.e. the need of modernisation and innovation which leads to the need of specialized and young workers.
Taking into account the importance of the sector to the local economy, the involvement of young and qualified staff is important not only to the industrial sector but also to the Municipality and the quality of life of the local population. Additionally, youngsters/millennials’ involvement in the manufacturing sector is essential to the sector´s evolution and repagination towards a more environmental sustainable and innovative sector.
The high number of employment offers which are not satisfied, can result on the no settlement of new companies in Águeda or lead those already installed in the city to look for other places with a more accessible and qualified labour force.
Therefore, it is essential to invert this process in order to allow the local business to grow and competitiveness and thus promote local development, involve youngsters in this traditional industry and thus reach out to the employment offers resulting on the fixation of companies in the municipality and the attraction of new ones.
The geographical area for this challenge is the municipality of Águeda, located in the central region of Portugal. It has 47,729 inhabitants (Censo 2011) a territorial area of 335 km2 and a population density of 142 hab/km2. The school-age population represents over 19.2% of the total population, rising up to 24% when included the population that will potentially attend higher education. It is exactly this last population that this challenge targets captivating them for industrial functions.
The Municipality sees the secondary and higher level education students as the target group of this challenge The relation between the Challenge Owner and the target group is direct since the students attend the schools which are totally managed by the municipality. It’s important to mention that the Municipality is part of a pilot project in Portugal, at the level of education called “Aproximar Educação” that allows it to manage and change curriculum according to the local reality.
Águeda is one of the most innovative municipalities at national level in terms of education approaches as well as in regards to entrepreneurship and innovation. As a result of this situation, the link between the role of the municipality and the challenge launched is very strong because the municipality has the possibility of influence both the students in the local education system and the local companies to find joint solutions to the challenge in question.
On the other hand, together with local schools, the municipality has promoted various curricular internships in local companies (at secondary and higher education level), and has also developed several actions to integrate younger students into the job market (through temporary internship programmes the city´s business incubator), as well as promoting vocational education activities to meet the industry needs.
The solutions implemented so far have not been able to make the youngsters to see their role in the manufacturing industry interesting. This is due to an approach of the internships where youngsters are unable to do wthat they consider a valid work. Cumulatively, many of the professional training courses do not make an interesting and trans formative link with the traditional local industry needs, leaving a gap between expectations and subsequent effective employ ability.
The municipality envisages actions that involve concerted measures such as the creation of a Living Lab or a network of cooperation and innovation to continue the implementation of strategies based on local or national financial support programmes.
Considering resources to support the development of the challenge in question, the Municipality of Águeda can support the achievement of the challenge through:
• Information, data and expertise on the issue;
• Pro-bono consultancy and coaching of the selected SPs;
• Connections to potential partners / investors;
• Funding for increased support of the SPs;
• Directly to the SPs access to its own distribution channels or supply chain, endorsement and promotion.
In addition to the previous actions, based on its Annual Activity Plan and Budget, the Municipality may finance a wide range of other actions that allow the development and implementation of such activities.
Most of these resources have been used in the past, but often not in a coordinated way, and in some cases their impact has been reduced, falling short of expectations. Nevertheless, the Municipality understands that a new strategy/innovative social solution for the challenge could lead to a better use of them.