The federal government wants to strengthen the structurally weak areas. He has promised to create at least 5,000 additional jobs in government agencies or other federal institutions in structurally weak areas by 2028. These jobs are planned in areas affected by coal phase-out. By the end of this year, for example, a new Competence Center for Regional Development will be established in Cottbus, Brandenburg, with about 60 jobs; In the long run there will be 90.
Transferring powers is easier than moving
On behalf of the BBSR Institute of Building, Urban and Space Research, a research team from the ifo institute investigated how the settlement of the authorities has succeeded in structurally weak areas. “Case studies show: ‘Transfer of powers is much easier than transition,’” says BBSR President, Marcus Eltges, summarizing the result. Because transfers need a long lead time. Because not all employees want to move.
Cooperation in education
The study found that authorities with few specialized tasks can usually hire more staff faster and on a larger scale than organizations that need highly qualified staff. The example of the Federal Office for Economics and Export Control in Weißwasser, Saxony, showed that a good training strategy could also attract less qualified employees, and that many jobs at the new location could be filled within the first year, according to the BBSR head. In order to attract qualified youth in rural areas, cooperation should therefore be made with regional training centers and universities – for example through dual study courses. As an example, Eltges cites the collaboration between the Office for Rural Development in the Upper Palatinate and the East Bavarian Technical University in Amberg-Weiden.
Good life and good working conditions
And this is not surprising: attractive working conditions and location are necessary to persuade employees to move to a new location. This included business opportunities for partners, permanent employment contracts, good infrastructure connections – and opportunities for mobile work. Also important is the presence of good educational institutions, fast Internet, a wide range of recreational activities and adequate housing. “A culture of welcome in the new headquarters is also essential.”
Four offices, four regions, four examples
How did the researchers get started with it? They took a closer look at the development of the Office for Rural Development in Tirschenreuth in the Upper Palatinate, as well as the branch office of the Federal Office for Economic and Export Control in Weißwasser and the Federal Environment Agency in Dessau-Rosslau. In a case study, they also dealt with the Rural Development Office in Upper Bavaria, which will be relocated from Munich to Molddorf am Inn with 150 employees. The four selected agency settlements were screened on the basis of 34 semi-structured and orientation-oriented interviews.
The researchers interviewed 27 officials from various hierarchical levels and seven stakeholders from the respective region. In addition, online surveys were conducted among a total of 652 employees by two of the authorities examined. However, experts complain that there is hardly any data on the geographical distribution of the authorities and their personnel. They criticize this as a major obstacle to researching the effectiveness of decentralization strategies in Germany, and appeal to politicians to collect more data and thus enable regional economic research using the latest methods.
Successful settlement: Bureau of Rural Development Upper Palatinate
The Rural Development Office (ALE) Oberpfalz moved from Regensburg to Tirschenreuth in 2013. Not many employees have moved to the small town 100 km away. But in the long run, the transition has meant that employees are much smaller and more diverse. In order to recruit junior staff, ALE Oberpfalz created training positions for the first time in 20 years. Applicants from the area around Tirschenreuth were contacted and won in a targeted manner at training fairs and through our ‘Open Day’. Settling in the new location created attractive jobs for young people close to their homeland. Another positive effect is the close cooperation with the local university. “With this strategy, English language learning has successfully counteracted the limited shortage of skilled workers in the structurally weak region,” the study says. The new authority has upgraded the Tirschenreuth site. According to the regional business representation, it also had a positive impact on investor demand.
Local politicians rule over the authorities
The study also revealed that the decision about the whereabouts of the authorities often relates to the commitment of local and international politicians. “Location of a structurally weak site that becomes a site for authorities is often due to the efforts of individuals,” according to the researchers.
You can find the study with the results of other case studies as well over here.
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