Attracting and retaining talent: are you looking for or offering work in the social and solidarity economy?

If you’re looking for a job in the SSE field, you should know about POTS, Up me Up and IntermediaJob, three platforms to support you in finding job offers in Barcelona.

19/02/2024 - 11:06 h - Employment and jobs Ajuntament de Barcelona

Much is often said about the objectives and values of the social and solidarity economy (SSE); however, in order to achieve them, a great deal of human capital is required. In this context, retaining and attracting talent is a challenge, an objective that must be adapted to the current situation. Human capital and the talent of employees are some of the most important intangible assets in all kinds of companies, and they are even more important in the social economy, which represents 10% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in Spain and 8% in the European Union.

According to Barcelona Activa’s Talent map, a tool that shows patterns in relation to Barcelona’s talent based on data provided by the professional networking site LinkedIn, the social and solidarity economy sector has the capacity to retain talent thanks to its ability to focus on the needs of its employees. As such, it is one of the sectors that has lost the fewest professionals: only a total of approximately 2,400 people have reported a change from the SSE to another professional field.

On this same map, we can also see some very interesting data on SSE talent in Barcelona; for example, their degrees are in the humanities (39.07%), business and law (31.67%), science and technology (14.28%), creative industries (12.66%) and digital fields (2.3%). Meanwhile, the universities that produce the most professionals are the University of Barcelona, with 30.6%, and the Autonomous University of Barcelona, with 18.9%. The majority of graduates from these universities are women, representing 71% and 72% of female talent, respectively. In the same vein, it is important to note that, according to LinkedIn, 62% of talent in the SSE is also female.

However, the SSE field also faces challenges in managing, attracting and retaining talent. In this report, we will explore these challenges and some tools and strategies to meet them.

But let’s start from the beginning: what do we mean when we talk about talent?

Ernesto Gómez Magén, coordinator of the Master’s Degree in Strategic Talent Management at the University of Mondragon and head of the People project at TeenLabs, explains that there are many definitions of the meaning of the word “talent” and all of them are very broad. But for him, talent means “people who are capable of achieving a result, a satisfactory performance, with little effort”.

At the same time, he continues, we must also take into account that all people have talent and must make the most of it, showing it in an efficient way in the workplace: “Herein lies the challenge, both for the staff and for the company. In the first case, they have to be able to find the place where they can show their talent and put it into practice; likewise, organisations and companies have to discover how to attract this talent, recruit it and retain it. They can only do so if they are clear about what their purpose is and, most importantly, if they know how to explain it to others, because you need to know where you’re going to be able to get there.

SSE organisations must be able to convey or communicate their purpose: sharing it and showing their values and social impact are fundamental principles, and so is indicating the elements that set it apart from other companies, because more and more professionals are looking for places to work that are aligned with their values. Along the same lines, it is also essential for SSE organisations to incorporate human capital with similar attitudes and values. This makes it easier to retain talent: “There may be professionals with strong knowledge and skills, but if their values are not shared by the company, it won’t work. That’s why I believe that the SSE must make a great effort to tell people about what they are, who they are and what they do,” concludes Ernesto Gómez, who has participated in the #DaysInnoBA series of events and in  ConversESS 1 attracting and retaining talent. Unique aspects of the SSE and challenges, organised by Barcelona Activa.

What are people looking for when they join an SSE company?

To answer this question and gain an in-depth understanding of the tools available for finding employment in Barcelona, we interviewed Roger Civit, director of the Catalan Social Third Sector Organisations Board, one of the driving forces behind the POTS portal; Daniel Núñez Díaz, director of the Business and Digital Business Department of the Intermèdia organisation, which created of the digital platform IntermediaJob; and Pau Serrat Pagespetit, director of operations at Facto Cooperativa, behind the UP me UP app.

Passion and purpose are the most important qualities of people looking for jobs in the SSE, says Daniel Núñez from IntermediaJob. He adds that values such as transformation and positive social impact, social justice and adherence to ESG (environmental, social and good governance) criteria, as well as more horizontal leadership, more participatory decision-making, respect for the environment, etc., are fundamental when it comes to wanting to work in the SSE sector.

Meanwhile, Roger Civit, from the POTS portal, adds that another aspect that attracts professionals is a workplace environment that prioritises caregiving and workers. He also reflects on the current challenges facing the third sector: “We are aware that the third sector has major challenges, such as its funding, which is mainly public. We are a non-profit sector with very limited funding, and this has an impact on job insecurity, but the sector is calling for the improvements needed to increase employment in this field.”

Daniel Núñez agrees: “Passion and the pursuit of a purpose should not be at odds with seeking basic working conditions, such as a good contractual and salary level, working hours that comply with regulations, etc. In the SSE, the salary level is still not as competitive as in other sectors, but this, is something we’re trying to improve,” he says.

Pau Serra Pagespetit, from Facto Cooperativa, explains that, based on his experience at Up me Up, young people are the most interested in seeking employment in the SSE, whether to find a first job in line with to their ideals or also to gain professional experience.

Match-making and three platforms to look for work in the SSE sector: POTS, Up me Up & IntermediaJob

1.- Portal POTS, Employment Portal for the Social Third Sector. Interview with Roger Civit, director of the Catalan Social Third Sector Organisations Board.

POTS is a play on words, as “pots” means “you can” in Catalan, but it is also the acronym of the Portal d’Ocupació del Tercer Sector Social [Social Third Sector Employment Portal], thus representing the proactive spirit of professionals and organisations. It is a tool developed by Catalan Social Third Sector Organisations Board and the Catalan Social Third Sector Business Confederation, the two organisations representing the sector.

It originally emerged as a response to the early effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, when professional workforces began to lose staff due to the disease and organisations had to continue providing services and support to the most vulnerable people. “We tried to find solutions that could, in some way, cover these staff shortages and guarantee social services,” says Roger Civit, and goes on to explain that after the first version, they became aware of the organisations’ interest in having a tool that reflects the nature of the sector. That’s how work on POTS began.

The new portal, launched in November 2023, aims to promote quality and inclusive employment, as well as to be a meeting point for professionals in the social field who are looking for work and social organisations that need to incorporate talent. This connection allows the social economy to develop projects that transform society to make it fairer and more inclusive and egalitarian. It is a useful tool tailored to the specific needs of the sector and was created thanks to the support of Barcelona City Council’s Directorate of Social and Solidarity Economy Services.

One of the strengths of POTS is that it has the support of thousands of Catalan non-profit social entities, such as federations, organisations, associations, social initiative cooperatives and foundations. Notably, it is a free express demand service, meaning that you can apply for very specific jobs such as temporary openings to cover leaves of absence, etc. “If you give your consent, the platform lets you be contacted directly by companies if they suddenly need to cover a position. Moreover, POTS has an artificial intelligence (AI) mechanism to match supply and demand. We are not a job board: if you are an organisation or a person, based on the fields you have filled in, we recommend the existing offers,” Civit concludes.

2.- IntermediaJob. Interview with Daniel Núñez Díaz, director of the Business and Digital Business Department of the Intermèdia organisation.

Intermèdia is a non-profit foundation founded in 2012 by three organisations with a long history of social action to improve employment: Fundació IReS, Fundació Surt and Suara Cooperativa. It assists people in vulnerable social and employment situations. “Although we work for all groups, we currently serve a large number of young people or those at risk of social exclusion,” explains Daniel Núñez Díaz, director of the Digital Business and Enterprise Department.

IntermediaJob was created in 2019. It’s a digital platform for skills-based selection, intelligently matching job offers and candidates based on the skills required by the professional profile that the company needs to recruit.

“The added value that it had at the time and that is still relevant is that it digitalises the skills model. After these years of experience in the sector, we believe that this model is more inclusive and equalises opportunities. That is, the platform does not work exclusively with a system of posting job offers and CVs. Rather, when people register, they sign up for a skill profile (we currently have more than twenty skill profiles defined for different occupations) and the company, when it publishes a job offer, also does so under a skill profile.
It promotes what people know and can do, beyond their CV: technical, basic and cross-cutting skills,” explains David Núñez.

Skills-based selection, beyond the educational background and work experience that a CV reflects, takes into account all the learning that the person has acquired throughout their life, in the personal, educational and professional spheres, and therefore guarantees a more reliable match with the needs of the job.

“Like all technological products, it is constantly being improved. At IntermediaJob we are working on the inclusion and implementation of technological improvements, including strictly structural aspects such as the fact that the tool should also be translated into Spanish, because currently we only have it in the Catalan version. In addition, we want to introduce a chatbot to be able to support and help people and companies when they sign up. We also want to include an e-learning match ecosystem with AI, so that it can help analyse skill profiles and learn from this. That way the matching will be more reliable and as automated as possible,” concludes David Núñez.

3.- Up me Up app. Interview with Pau Serrat Pagespetit, director of operations at Facto Cooperativa.

“Up me Up was created last year, after identifying the need for SSE companies to recruit and retain talented people who not only have technical skills but also social ambition: an environmental and social focus, a gender perspective, etc. For example, if they were looking for economists, it was necessary to find professionals with a certain vision of the world, because otherwise they wouldn’t fit in with the company culture,” says Pau Serrat.

There are many job search apps, with great development teams behind them and strong communities that support them. But Up me Up not only offers the same features, it also matches the job seeker and project looking for talent based on their values. “It is very easy to introduce the values. You can select up to six that represent you, such as honesty, teamwork and flexibility, among others. Companies do the same. This leads to a match, that is, the platform identifies that this person has a 90% chance of being a good fit for the job, because the person and the company share values,” explains Pau Serrat.

The app is mainly designed to be used from a mobile phone, although it can also be accessed from a computer. “We’ve designed and created a service that is useful, pleasant and easy to use. Furthermore, with the aim of helping the app grow, Facto is working with cooperatives such as Ecooo and the Federation of Cooperatives and Social Economy Organisations (FECOMA), in Madrid, and Tazebaez, in the Basque Country. We’re breaking into the market and our aim is to increase the number of users and expand further throughout Spain.”

“Recently we’ve started developing a part of the application for entrepreneurs, thanks to Bruitsi funding from the Government of Catalonia. The aim is to help them find others that match what they’re looking for. For example, if you want to start a bakery, it will put you in contact with people who support that initiative. This new resource will be launched this March,” Serrat explains.

Up me Up was funded by the Ministry of Labour and Social Economy’s social economy Strategic Project for Economic Recovery and Transformation (PERTE), and has previously received co-funding support from the Government of Catalonia’s Unique Projects programme.

Increasing the employment of the SSE is one of the goals set out in the SSE2030 strategy and one of the challenges facing organisations. That’s why, this quarter, the attraction and retention of talent is the theme that will be addressed in Barcelona Activa’s DiesinnoBA series of events, with an opening talk and two practical workshops specifically aimed at providing companies and organisations with tools and strategies for both attracting and retaining talent.

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