Innovating Talent Attraction: A Practitioner’s Guide for Cities, Regions and Countries – Book Review

How to attract talent in times of skills shortage? Cities across the globe are trying to figure it out. Some more successful, others less. Innovation is key, according to a book recently published by place branding connoisseurs Nikolaj Lubanski, Marcus Andersson and Morten King-Grubert.

Shrewsbury (UK) Business Improvement District partnership development manager Aleks Vladimirov shares his thoughts on ‘Innovating Talent Attraction: A Practitioner’s Guide for Cities, Regions and Countries‘.

Aleks, what makes Innovating Talent Attraction worth reading?

Despite a growing global population, the availability of skilled talent is actually shrinking. In Europe, 2010 marked a turning point, as the first year in which the number of labour market entrants fell below that of retiring workers.

We are, in other words, entering a new era with an unprecedented scarcity of talented people. This is a problem which, if left unaddressed, will severely impede economic growth locally and internationally.

Lubanski, Andersson and King-Grubert clearly identify this trend (which may run counter to intuition, considering a growing population overall) and provide a prescriptive practitioner’s guide on how to do talent attraction.

In addition, the authors argue that talent attraction and retention is moving from the national to the regional and city level. According to them, this is due to the fact that thanks to strong place branding campaigns, many cities and regions are becoming better-known than countries.

Briefly, what is Innovating Talent Attraction about?

Based on interviews and case studies with those who are already involved in talent attraction and place branding, Innovating Talent Attraction introduces as its key focus a way to improve conditions for talent mobility, rather than only focusing on attempting to attract and retain talent.

The authors argue that, if all locations become better at all steps of the talent flow model outlined in the book, mobility would increase. This talent flow model consists of 4 key steps – Talent Attraction, Talent Reception, Talent Integration and Talent Reputation.

For example, the better the reception a person gets when moving to a new place, the more positive the migration experience is perceived to be and – perhaps paradoxically – the more prone the person will be to move again. And the person will leave as a great ambassador for the place, and most likely recommend other internationals to go to the region they just left.

The most useful practical insight for you?

Many places around the world have a strong brand and positive brand associations, as well as perceptions that link their marketing activities back to the brand. However, the authors dare to argue that many places need to develop a stronger ‘employer place brand’ of their region, that is, specifically as a career destination.

The authors ultimately envision a world of brain-circulation rather than goods and services circulation, so prevalent in our globalized economy. Such a perspective is useful to the everyday practitioner in a world with an ever-increasing need for balancing out economic growth with sustainability.

Also, the book’s clear outline of how to run talent attraction management programs is something which can be put to practice straight away. Moreover, I sympathize with the authors’ call for a dedicated organization to serve as an orchestration hub for talent attraction.

Why would you recommend reading Innovating Talent Attraction?

Practitioner’s guides such as Innovating Talent Attraction are very useful for those of us working for cities, regions or destinations, because it often takes years before such insights are available trough academic research publications.

Lubanski, Andersson and King-Grubert go beyond the to-be-expected how to’s and structured advice by looking at current talent attraction practices critically. They don’t shy away from putting the status quo approach to the test, and to ask questions which some policy makers might find uncomfortable, but which are absolutely necessary.

One of those paradoxical insights is this: while most cities and regions are trying to attract talent from foreign places, if you want to keep talent, you also need to encourage the place’s own citizens to go and study abroad, so they can benefit from the innovative input of true internationals.

Aleks VladimirovThank you, Aleks.

Connect with Aleks Vladimirov on LinkedIn or learn more about Shrewsbury BID here.

Want to know more about how to attract talent for your city or region? This handy little book is available – as Kindle edition – via or Amazon UK.

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