Many people that run businesses today, whether technology based or not, have grown up seeing their parents leave for work in the morning, come home in the evening and, more often than not, be unsatisfied with their jobs.

Some of them were even unable to spend their childhood close to their extended family as a result of moving for their parents’ work. It’s something that helped them to grow in many ways, but meant they missed out on that closeness and the chance to make choices in others.

 

Capturing talent in the era of remote working. The attraction of “other hubs”

The current generation is the first in the history of humanity that, in 60% of jobs, can work from anywhere on the planet. They just need an internet connection, available around most of the planet, and a laptop computer or tablet. Sometimes, a smartphone is more than enough.

One thing many people are clear about, especially after the situation experienced during the pandemic, is that it is not worth wasting time in places where you are unhappy or you don’t feel fulfilled. Yes, there are some professionals that do not have a choice and are anchored to specific companies, but even they have options such as ‘bootcampsto reinvent themselves in just a year.

It goes without saying that not everyone can, wants to or has the ability, courage or circumstances to do so. But both young people without roots and with the urge to travel and experience new things, and older generations who prefer to be looking out at the sea rather than an industrial city, are taking advantage of the opportunity brought to them by the hybrid or fully remote model. They make up a new tribe that vies for numerous places around the world.

This is the case with Topeka (Kansas), the 229th city of the United States in terms of population, and its 15,000 dollar incentive for those who decide to move and work there. But money isn’t everything for this generation when it comes to finding an ecosystem to welcome them. In fact, it isn’t even the main factor, it is a consequence of knowing how to bring talent together.

No matter how attractive a major city may be, if you can’t find people with your knowledge and interests and companies that encourage you to grow, it’s likely you will choose to go elsewhere. This is relocating so-called powerhouses to smaller places that are capable of becoming an entrepreneurial cluster. Something that has been coined city magnetism.

If attracting talent is no longer a matter of major poles of innovation or iconic cities, how does a region position itself among the top options for this generation that is choosing where to seek their fortune?

The latest Global talent competitiveness index (GTCI) gives us a hint: “Medium sized hubs can gain positions in the ranking because they offer a better quality of life in factors such as sustainability or safety”.

 

What does the Valencian Region offer in the race to capture talent

Living in Valencia was already a privilege for those who, for example, decided that the first European headquarters of a Silicon Valley accelerator, Plug and Play, would not be located in Madrid or Barcelona. In addition, for many years, numerous people from northern Europe and the United States have been spending their holidays (and sometimes a few months longer) on the coast of Alicante where, nowadays, the Digital District attracts numerous companies and professionals.

 

However, let’s not fall into the trap of thinking it’s all about the Mediterranean, for many years different nomads have lived in the inland regions, with a mountain climate and access to age-old cuisine. We are looking at population segments that are close to each other by car or train, with international airports and fast and direct connections to most of Spain. All of this, for those who are used to travelling long distances in their own countries and bearing high housing costs, equates to enormous advantages in all senses.

At the same time, there is also a growing market of products and services for nomads or expats, which makes it extremely easy on every level for those who decide to touch down in this region.

However, legislation that simplifies all of the formalities is still outstanding, yet it is one of the most frequent demands, and something that other areas are highlighting as a force of attraction.

For Krzysztof Szypillo, from Query Layer (whose mission is to help companies to manage their customers’ personal data sustainably and in a scalable way), “without a doubt, Valencia has become one of the main European destinations for digital nomads or simply professionals who, during the pandemic, have wanted to swap the major cities like London or Paris for a city that can offer them a better quality of life. It isn’t just the weather or the people with their Mediterranean character that makes people fall in love with the city from day one”, highlights this Polish entrepreneur who laid down his roots in Valencia a decade ago.

“European media increasingly highlight the good infrastructure, international schools, hospitals and city-style initiatives where everything is 20 minutes away”, says Krzystof. In fact, he points to the fact that not all statistics reflect reality. “I think there is still a lot of hidden talent that lives and works remotely from here. And I’m talking about ex-pats as well as Spanish people who return after experiencing life abroad”, he adds.

Because, it isn’t just about attracting foreign talent, but recovering the talent that has left and activating the talent that is dormant.

“It is worth remembering that, particularly in recent years and with the birth of Startup Valencia, success stories have emerged such as Flywire or Jeff, and the number of incubators, mentors, investors and accelerators has increased exponentially. Even so, both the universities and government should push further in terms of the growing competition in these aspects”, he concludes.

Benyam Bou from Epixlife, a startup that offers nutritional solutions through its eHealth platform, shares some aspects of his vision. “In recent years, the local ecosystem of startups has increased considerably and it’s easy to be inspired by the synergies that exist in the city”.

Indeed, as aspects to transform, he points out that “to incentivise entrepreneurship, without a doubt Valencian taxation must be improved. In addition, not just attracting, but also training the talent necessary to be able to fulfil all of the projects that are growing in the region”, he argues.

Thierry Scelles, the CEO of Caminandum, who has focussed his business idea specifically on outdoor sports, concludes with these issues to be resolved. Outdoor sports are one of the big assets of the ‘healthiest region in the world’, which ranges from the plains of the capital for breaking running world records, to one of the most mountainous regions of the country like Castellón. Indeed, the option to disconnect in this way is one of the main factors of the aforementioned ‘city magnetism’.

Caminandum operates from Spain in countries like France, Italy and Switzerland and this leads their manager to compare the city to its port activity. “We are in a national and international transport hub of containers dedicated to sales abroad. For a startup, this model is easy to replicate because it teaches you how to export any type of business easily”.

“One of its main advantages, apart from the weather, is that office rentals are much more affordable than in other cities in the country. However, an aspect to improve upon is the curricular and extra-curricular work experience of students who want to join an outward-looking company. Few people travel to Asia, America, Europe or Africa and bring back a different view to the one established here from the start of their working base. In fact, depending on the time of year, it can be difficult to find staff with a good level of languages”, he concludes.

Underpinning the strengths and working to improve in the areas with a growth margin, the proposal of the Valencian ecosystem’s value has already been recognised in its mission to attract global talent and enhance local talent. The race has only just started.

 

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