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Barcelona must compete for international talent on a global level, by Osmar Polo

Barcelona must compete for international talent on a global level, by Osmar Polo

Osmar Polo

CEO and Chairman of the Board of T-Systems Iberia

What percentage of your workers in Barcelona come from other countries? Why is international talent so important for T-Systems?

We have more than 100 international professionals from 33 different countries working out of the 22@ office in Barcelona. A diverse range of people from different backgrounds contribute new skills and capacities to a company like ours, while also facilitating cultural exchange, global collaboration, and innovation.

What does Barcelona need to do to continue attracting international talent?

Barcelona is a cosmopolitan and attractive city that is internationally recognized for its culture, pleasant climate, and high standard of living, not to mention its excellent gastronomy. However, it needs to overcome many challenges if it is to become the first choice for international professionals.

Global competition is one of those challenges. On a European level, cities like London, Berlin or Amsterdam are investing heavily in attracting the same international talent. A further challenge is access to affordable housing, since in recent years prices have shot up, causing professionals, especially young people, to choose destinations where access to housing is more affordable.

Furthermore, it is essential to ensure that there is high quality education and training available to meet the needs of foreign professionals and immigration policies while procedures need to be streamlined in order to make it easier for foreign professionals to settle in the city. Lastly, Barcelona should foment professional networks and opportunities for international talent. New spaces for collaborating and sharing job opportunities in key sectors could go a long way to attracting and retaining high-level talent. Meeting these challenges inevitably requires close collaboration between the private and the public sectors.

And what does the city need to do to retain talent?

As I have mentioned, retaining international talent requires a wide-ranging, collaborative approach that involves both the public and private sectors and the local community. A resilient, diversified business ecosystem that offers interesting and well-paid employment opportunities will encourage international professionals to stay in the city. In order for this to happen, however, it is important to attract investment, encourage startups, and help international companies in the city to expand.

It is important to continue improving the quality of life, and providing quality public services, adequate infrastructures, and a wide range of cultural and leisure activities.  It is also essential to address mobility issues and encourage a sustainable, healthy, and attractive environment for international residents.

Cultural integration and support for the international community are also important. First, Barcelona should encourage professionals to become part of Catalan society by promoting cultural exchange programs, encouraging participation in local events, and offering support to help foreigners adapt to their new life in the city. Second, a support network for international professionals that offers guidance, mentoring, and networking groups will help them to feel supported by the city and want to stay.

Answer the 6th International Talent Monitor! If you are an international professional living in Barcelona, answer our biennial survey that helps us understand your needs and perceptions in the city.

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