Attracting competence, the importance of attractive NSPA Regions. The industrial growth in NSPA is happening, and it is happening fast. But there is a serious challenge of attracting competence as the required workforce numbers continue to grow. We need to think holistically about how to make the region appealing, to make people want to move to the region. What are the factors that make a region or community attractive? Could the NSPA create a common northern European vision about how we put forward the attractive and good life in an Arctic life environment?
The Arctic faces an ageing population, young people moving south, and local communities are getting quieter, and emptier. How can the regions provide attractive communities to better attract the necessary competence? Can we avoid a fly-in-fly, out workforce that leaves little, or nothing left to the local community?
Focusing on attractiveness will be key to solve the challenge of lack of competence in the NSPA, during a time where the communities are changing fast due to the ongoing twin transition, leading to enormous industrial investments in the regions. As we need to think crossborder and beyond the NSPA borders, how do we use the potential of Arctic attractiveness to attract foreign labour? Are there any obstacles and how can the EU contribute as a facilitator?
Follow up the OECD report
Despite our challenges, remoteness and harsh climate conditions, the 2017 OECD report finds that the well-being in the NSPA is high. It suggests that challenges associated with population ageing and decline in the region can be handled by increasing employment levels, raising productivity through strengthened innovation performance, addressing labour market mismatches, and better connecting firms and communities to cities and external markets.
These recommendations underline the need for attention from regional, national and EU level - and collaboration between the actors “to increase future prosperity and wellbeing”. In other words - increase the attractiveness. One of the policy recommendations in the report is to establish a work programme amongst the NSPA regions that is integrated with national government decision making and addressing shared opportunities and challenges. Did the NSPA follow up on this recommendation? If not, may it be relevant now?
Connecting the needs in the NSPA with the updated EU Arctic Policy
The EU’s Arctic engagement, as written in the EU's joint communication paper on the Arctic, will be closely related to the ambitions and proposals in the European Green Deal. The EU plans to invest in the future of people living in the Arctic, stimulate better education, sustainable growth and jobs, and support an inclusive development of the Arctic regions to the benefit of its habitants and future generations, focusing on the needs of indigenous peoples, women and young. The strategy also mentions that the EU will contribute to cooperation between Arctic cities. These are objectives that the NSPA welcomes. Can the NSPA provide some ideas on how the EU can promote these goals in cooperation with NSPA?
It also underlines that the EU’s full engagement in Arctic matters is a geopolitical necessity. This has become even more important because of the ongoing war in Ukraine. Raising the attractiveness of the region and ensuring growing and thriving communities in the European Arctic and its closest neighbours should be put high on the agenda in the future.
The purpose of the Working Groups in the NSPA is twofold; to increase the awareness and knowledge of the NSPA in Brussels, and to influence policy development at EU level and increase cooperation across borders in the NSPA regions. We invite all NSPA Forum participants to reflect upon the questions and topics that have been raised in this document. As the Attractiveness topic is highly relevant and important, we hope to see our stakeholders sharing experiences and best practices from initiatives in the regions and discuss the possibility to cooperate on this issue.