Unmet city staff education need

The urban mobility area is seeing and is expected to continue to see a significant transformation. EIT Urban Mobility’s mission is to facilitate and accelerate this transition towards more sustainable models and a better use of public space. This demands a significant shift in competences and how the area is addressed.

How this need can be met depends on the conditions and abilities for each specific segment. Our cities have expressed that much of the training offered on the market is far too expensive and time consuming for cities to be a viable alternative. There is also a need to work cross organizational integrating areas to a much higher extent than before. Being able to meet this training and education need could have a major impact on the cities ability to handle the transformation, innovate, utilize new technologies and manage change.

Do you agree with the statements above? How significant is this issue and what is the reason for that cities are different from the industry in this respect?

We should here focus on trying to understand the nature of the problem, so please try to avoid discussing concrete solutions, even if it is difficult. Potential solutions will be discussed in the next step of the process.

11 thoughts on “Unmet city staff education need

  1. Cities use public money and it is difficult to convince tax payers to invest massively in training/education which does not lead to direct results (politicians want fast results). Education is not a very tangible investment and has rather long term impacts. The objectives of cities are political (and not financial), so they are of less ‘direct value’ which may lead to administrations to think that investing in training is not that much needed. Furthermore, some authorities (not all) have become so bureaucratic and working in silos that they have lost any sense of creativity as well as the capacity to take initiatives. So in this case it is rather a general problem (not related to training) that some administrations are not capable to look ahead, adapt and grow.

    On the other side, the industry sector is driven by profit and managers are aware that professional and personal development is a piece of the puzzle to achieve good financial results.

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  2. Urban mobility problems are born in the cities, these are the ones that know their problems best. Having the ability to understand problems well, understand well the ecosystem of solutions and innovation is key for city officers to be able to focus their projects correctly.
    On the other hand, urban mobility is becoming more and more complex, understanding something that evolves very fast, so novel and where there are no real experts demands a different treatment. The answers are likely to be found in innovation ecosystems, where solutions are co-created between all actors (companies, administration, startups, academia, etc …) and where mutual learning is generated. Perhaps these are the new experts capable of innovating from the future and not based on the past.
    Empowering cities to manage their own local ecosystems for urban mobility innovation could be a new way to find new responses needed for transformation.

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    1. Agreed. On the one hand city officials have better means of identifying needs but do not normally have an entrepreneurial mindset/culture and need to overcome complex administrative procedures which hinders many forms of innovation. On the other, entrepreneurs are often quick and good at finding innovative solutions when needs are identified but are not equipped to deal with public bureaucracy. There is a need to bridge both cultures and mindsets and find a way to make them collaborate, that is result-driven.

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  3. Employees’ willingness to work on new values and sustainability aspects is a strong lever for change. Statistics show that employees’ engagement is less and less physical, and more “moral” and based on the company’s core value (Mandia, 2016). Researchers have also identified managerial conditions conducive to innovation in public organizations and highlighted the relevance of leaving room for experimentation and rewarding innovations (Sahni et al, 2013). This highlight the importance to give room to employees, but they need to be trained, especially when talking about sustainability, urban development and innovation.

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  4. A conclusion of the above may be that there is clearly an issue and need to address but that this is more complex than just offering a few courses. This is about transformation, innovation, breaking silos, and integration within the local ecosystems. With this in mind I suggest we keep this area for the next step to see if there are suggestions how to meet this complex need, and in a way that is feasible both from the city and EIT Urban Mobility perspective.

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    1. I was thinking along the same lines. The idea of breaking down silos has been mentioned several times. Management of the necessary change is needed. Maybe addressing change management is the starting point.

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  5. I think data analysis skills are also increasingly needed in local administrations. Data is such a big topic area but most local administrations don’t know enough about how to analyse it – or even what to put in a call for tenders that involves any amounts of data collection or sharing.

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  6. Going again into the future-focussed mobility idea: There’s lots of talk from the industry side about automation of mobility, but what would that actually look like in a city? What sort of requirements should a city make of a private sector investor that wants to introduce automated vehicles? How do you make a city automation-ready? Or how do you make automation city-ready?

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