Unleash innovative thinking to address long-term unemployment

11 March 2020

Getting inspiration from Lille Metropole’s innovative practice – Job Factory (‘La Fabrique de l’emploi’) and building on their experiences in addressing long-term unemployment (LTU), practitioners from 14 cities have met on 23-25 May 2019 in Lille Metropole to share lesson learnt in the process of creating new and innovative actions at local level.

In EU cities, the rates of long-term unemployed out of the general unemployment raged from a low of 3% in Vienna to a high of 53.2% in Antwerp. The data collected from cities show concerning numbers especially for cities that have low level of unemployment, like for example Warsaw with 2%, but the rate of LTU reaches 52.1% of its workforce in unemployment.

In order to help cities to address these challenges, Eurocities working group employment has produced a set of guidelines to help cities in their process of designing and developing new and innovative solutions to address long-term unemployment and support re-integration on the labour market.

What works?
The design of creative solutions requires a flexible approach, innovative public management and available funding. Cities have highlighted the importance of starting from changing the mindset to address the complex issues like long-term unemployment through traditional ways and actions, as well as the value of creating the environment to design experimental projects to address the challenges.

  • Enable a city innovative mindset by defining what innovation means, changing the mindset of people working in public administration, creating structured that allow innovation, piloting new ideas, defining the social return and enabling funding that supports experimentation.
  • Designing and implementing new ideas to address long-term unemployment by first understanding the challenge and the data behind it, designing creative employment solutions, implementing the actions, following-up and celebrate the results, and scaling-up the successful practices.

What are the key messages?
Based on the lessons learnt from the practices of the cities these are the main contributors to successful practices to address long-term unemployment:

  1. Innovation can only happen in an environment in which city experts have the right to do mistakes from which they can learn, innovate and experiment.
  2. Experimentation and innovation are supported by innovative funding which can rely on public financial resources or private money attracted to achieve social objectives.
  3. Social innovation works better when there is a clear definition of what innovation means in a specific context and when the social return on investment is clearly determined.
  4. Labour market (re-)integration policies should centre on a bottom-up participatory approach to build on the capacities of the long-term unemployed people and the needs of the neighbourhoods in which they work.
  5. Cities design measures to complement the public employment services, by facilitating the cooperation among training providers, local employers, social partners, chambers of commerce and NGOs

Cities have shown that the effort of re-integration into the labour market is easier when the effort is focused on creating jobs for the people, rather than matching people for existing roles. This requires the commitment of the community in which the project is implemented, innovative strategies to reach out to people that are not registered as unemployed to the public employment services, as well as a public management that allows bottom-up and participative management

If you are interested to read more, please open the guidelines attached.

You can have a look at the practice that has inspired our work – Job Factory (‘La Fabrique de l’emploi’):