Alexa Bizkaia Talent - Recruiting, engaging, and retaining talent in Bilbao-Bizkaia
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Bizkaia Talent - Recruiting, engaging, and retaining talent in Bilbao-Bizkaia

Bizkaia Talent - Recruiting, engaging, and retaining talent in Bilbao-Bizkaia

Globalization has been an important phenomenon that has changed the world for good. But the extreme and unorganized globalization also leads to brain drain, which has been a serious concern for countries, industries, and organizations. Because of this, they lose a core portion of valuable individuals like doctors, healthcare professionals, scientists, engineers, or financial professionals. Bizkaia Talent was established in 2005 as a non-profit organization with a clear mission: to foster and facilitate the implementation of the necessary conditions for attracting, connecting, and retaining highly qualified people in the areas of knowledge and innovation in the Basque Historical Territory of Bizkaia. We interviewed Ivan Jiménez Aira, the Managing Director at Bizkaia Talent, to learn more about the company and its services. Here are a few excerpts of the interview:

Q. Tell us how and why Bizkaia Talent was established.

With the support of the Provincial Government of Biscay and some of the leading Basque companies, universities, and research and technology centers, first founded back in 2005, Bizkaia Talent is a non-profit organization that was established with a very clear objective. The objective was to help foster an environment where the very best talent in Biscay, its capital city Bilbao and the wider Basque Country would find the necessary conditions to thrive and to showcase their unique talents and characteristics on a global stage.

Q. How do you attract, bind, and retain highly skilled people?

It’s a combination of the personal contact we get not only when we help people coming to the Basque Country through our Relocations & Be Basque Dual Career Centre, but also with different international meetings, we organize called Be Basque Talent Meetings and Conferences. We go wherever the talent is instead of organizing local meetings. This personal contact is specially reinforced by our digital tools, such as the Basque Talent Map, Career Development Centre, or Basque Talent Observatory, a mix between personal contact and most advanced technology. One without the other doesn’t make sense.

Q. What is the Basque Talent Map? Is it for everyone?

We have a database of more than 16.000 highly qualified professionals that want to be connected to the Basque Country (especially with those 500 Basque organizations that are also part of our database), living in more than 100 Countries; half of them weren’t born in the Basque Country. Still, it goes with the claim we use when we go abroad looking for talent with the “Be Basque Concept,” a way to say we want them to be part of our Country. Anyone who has a University Degree can register on the platform.

Q. What does your offering – International Professional Networking Meetings – help with?

We do things in a very special way. We go wherever the talent we need is. We want them to feel our genuine interest in them. Every professional is important for us, we put them in direct contact with companies and recruiters, just facilitators but with a very personal approach, they have the opportunity to meet with a personal agenda a lot of Basque Companies that have checked their profile previously and have shown an interest in them.

Q. What do you offer for HR professionals in Basque organizations?

We offer a free service to reach in a very personal way a lot of professionals that would be really difficult and expensive to find for them on their own. The professionals registered on our platform know that our targets are Basque Companies, so we already know there is a special interest for our Country, which is difficult to tell through other general platforms. It’s a tailor-made service.

We are in the middle; we don’t make the whole recruitment process. That’s something made by the Companies or through headhunters. We are facilitators in the ecosystem. Anyway, we try to know personally as many candidates as we can so we can make the first filter.

Q. How does Bizkaia Talent help improve the skills of the kids, teachers, and university students?

We have a special service for University students, Talentia Service. Through it, and especially through the Talentia Skills program, we help those students to develop Soft skills, they work together no matter their University degree, so they also start dealing with diversity, engineers with the law of psychology students, etc. during four years they manage to have a wider overview of the job market and professional life. We involve every year around 700 students in this program. 

Q. What are the greatest challenges of being in your space? How are you tackling them?

The main problem is that we have to compete with Tier 1 cities and areas, such as London, Paris, Munich, etc. We can offer an excellent offer when it comes to quality of life as we are a kind “North of the South, South of the North,” which basically means that our lifestyle is quite Southern European but combining with highly public services, health, and education system, security and also a very industrial mindset with professional opportunities. The place branding strategy is absolutely important for us, and we need to combine it with the collaboration with companies, especially to reinforce also their employer branding.

Q. What is your vision for the future?

The competition for the best talent will become harder and harder, is a question of a combination between demography, the increase of need of highly qualified professionals and the development of Asia as a new competitor. In that sense, using data analytics to concentrate your efforts on your real target, knowing their need, location, lacks, etc., will be crucial as more and more regions and countries are reinforcing their policies to attract talent.

The use of technology to find the best talent is already here, and those who don’t use it will have a considerable disadvantage with respect to the rest. Having said that, personal contact as we are talking about people management will also be crucial. Again a good combination between technology and personal contact will be the key.

Q. Are you expanding to areas outside Basque soon? Tell us about your plans.

Our target is to attract talent to the Basque Country. In fact, we are competing with any other area around us. That’s the reality. Anyway, we are one of the founder members of the Europan Talent Mobility Forum, along with other seven companies from different Northern European Regions, Berlin, Eindhoven-Brainport, Estonia, Gothenburg, Lund, Turku, Scotland, and Copenhagen, so the collaboration is also important to share the best practices, we can’t forget the first competition is between Europe and other areas in the world.

We want to start working with highly qualified coming from professional training, and also to reinforce the employer branding of our companies. Some of them haven’t realized yet that the competition has already started, and they need to show to the world their attractiveness, or sometimes to create it.

Meet the Managing Director

Ivan Jimenez is the Managing Director of Bizkaia Talent. Ivan has a double degree in Law & Economics by the University of Deusto, MBA by the Deusto Business School, and different Programmes in Machine learning and new technologies by MIT Executive Education, he has also a certification in Employer Brand & Leadership by the Employer Branding College, he speaks five languages (Basque, English, Italian, French and Spanish) and has been leading the company during the last 10 years, promoting the Technologicalization and internationalization of the company and along with other international organizations creating the European Talent Mobility Forum, a community to improve best practices and try to attract talent to different European Regions. The company in 2020 was the winner of the Place Marketing Award in Economic Development Category, and also the Small Business Award as the best talent managment organization.

“Bizkaia Talent has enabled us to hire a person in Manchester (England) with the necessary qualifications for a position that we needed. Our market is global, both from the point of view of our products and the people we need to be part of our organizations. That is why the aid program within Bizkaia Talent is invaluable,” Azucena Castro, Director of OWL Genomics.


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