On Friday 25 October 2019, EPRC hosted a seminar looking at the challenges faced by rural areas in remaining attractive places for young people. The presentations and discussions started from a stock-take of shrinking rural areas across Europe and then moved on to examples of policy measures from Italy and Scotland.
Stefan Kah from EPRC gave an introduction that not only showed an increased attention given to the subject, but also that policy-makers have long been aware of the challenges of keeping young people in rural areas.
Andrew Copus from the James Hutton Institute presented ongoing research funded by ESPON. The ESCAPE project explores the challenges of European shrinking rural areas and aims to improve the evidence base for policy interventions. His presentation discussed different types of shrinking and their drivers, raising the question to what extent demography is an agent or rather a consequence in the process.
Sabrina Lucatelli, Senior Expert of Public Policy and Vice Chair of the OECD Rural Working Group, presented the Italian Inner Areas Strategy. The Strategy targets 72 selected areas across Italy, covering almost 17% of the territory and 3% of the population. It aims to empower territories and people to restore growth and well-being, using a combination of different EU and domestic funding sources. There is a strong focus on young people, not least through many interventions in the area of education.
Francesco Mantino from the Italian Council for Research in Agriculture and Economics presented his research on interlinkages between the Inner Areas Strategies and rural development policies. He showed the close relation between the Inner Areas Strategies and the LEADER instrument, which in many cases goes beyond simple additionality and complementarity. Instead, he identified policy synergies, not least due to differences in thematic orientation of the two policies.
Robin Clarke from Highlands and Islands Enterprise presented their research on young people and the Highlands and Islands. The most recent study from 2018 follows on from similar research carried out in 2015 and 2009. He showed that regional attractiveness for young people is based on longer term economic considerations (e.g. quality job opportunities with career progression prospects, low cost of living) and social elements that enhance life in the region, including affordable housing and access to essential services.