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Clusters and Workforce Development

The presented discussion paper, released by the European Cluster Observatory (2014-2016), aims at initiating a debate on the current and future role of clusters and cluster organisations in connection with skills development with a special focus on emerging industries, exploring the role that clusters, cluster initiatives and cluster organisations can play in the context of workforce development within emerging industries. The key questions addressed in this discussion paper are as follows: What are the main challenges in providing the necessary skills to grow the talent pool? How can we better define skills needs, anticipate changes and foster multi-stakeholder partnerships? How can best practices be nurtured and scaled up? What roles can or should cluster organisations play in this context? How do these roles change and evolve over the various stages of workforce development and the evolving status of the emerging industry clusters?

In order to address these questions, the discussion paper starts from the premise that workforce development for existing and emerging industries requires input and guidance from many sources beyond cluster organisations. When identifying the role of the cluster organisation as an entity in the process, it is necessary to look at the entire system of actors and stakeholders in the various facets of workforce development. Depending on the sector of interest, these include government agencies, trade unions and vocational education training centres, educational institutions, public interest associations, consumer groups and private sector firms that may or may not be part of any cluster organisation as such. At any given stage of the workforce development process, different combinations of these actors and stakeholders can represent “drivers”. The cluster organisations are only one of the actors in this regard.

The paper comprises the following main sections:

  • Clusters and Workforce Development - discussing the role of clusters and cluster organisations in the context of skills development.
  • Status of Cluster Organisations Involved in Skills Development in Europe - focusing on the role that cluster organisations can play in terms of workforce development. The chapter draws on quantitative and qualitative data provided by the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis. The discussion serves to better understand what kinds of services are provided by cluster organisations in this respect.
  • Good Practices - How Cluster Organisations Contributed to Skills Development - presenting selected cases, namely Hamburg Aviation Cluster (Germany), Alpine Wellbeing (Italy) and Massachusetts Life Science Cluster (U.S.), that illustrate certain good practices and looks into lessons learned in the field of clusters and workforce development in emerging industries. Three very different clusters are put in focus to highlight aspects of different stages of the workforce development process as well as different combinations of actors and stakeholders that represent “drivers” in said process.
  • Conclusions on upcoming challenges in terms of workforce development for knowledge-based clusters and emerging industries.

Please find the report for a full reading here as well as attached.