Barbara Glinsner and Ursula Holtgrewe of the Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI) present the argument for why stakeholder engagement is an important factor in research on labour markets, and share WeLaR’s approach to making stakeholder input an integral part of the research process.
WeLaR investigates four megatrends – globalisation, technological development, demographic transformation and climate change – and how they impact and interact with labour markets, social policy and welfare states. WeLaR’s research findings will inform us about hot questions such as how technological change and retirement decisions are connected, how climate policies impact income equality, and what the fiscal effects of migration are. The answers to these questions are highly relevant in societal, political and economic terms. They don’t just concern researchers, but also policymakers and practitioners, and even impact our everyday lives.
Thus it is a cornerstone of WeLaR that our research and policy recommendations are not solely produced by academic researchers, but in interaction and discourse with stakeholders. These stakeholders are people with both knowledge and (some) decision-making power in the fields of the labour market, social policy and the welfare state. They include those who represent and articulate the interests of particular vulnerable groups. Such stakeholders are found on all levels of policy and social action: the European and the national level, but also the regional, sectoral and municipal level.
Stakeholders bring in a valuable perspective by confronting researchers with the realities of policymaking and policy implementation. They can challenge basic assumptions and increase our understanding of certain policy fields. Their experience is crucial to make sense of certain phenomena and developments. At the same time, research can help answer policy- or practice-related questions, and ground policy and practice more firmly in scientific evidence.
Engaging with stakeholders from the very beginning is therefore a key activity in the WeLaR project. Mutual learning and collaboration across disciplines and fields will make our research more relevant and impactful, and help us to derive policy recommendations that help reduce economic risks, inequality and vulnerability, increasing social inclusion and strengthening welfare states.
To do so, WeLaR offers a series of live workshops and webinars with inputs from the project’s research and from related European and national projects and practices. Moreover, WeLaR will host four “open virtual expert cafés”. This innovative format gives researchers, practitioners and stakeholders the opportunity to raise critical questions, present research findings or events, or brainstorm on an issue of interest with an interested audience. To keep the ideas flowing, presenters are limited to a single slide.
The goal of each of these activities is to bring together experts and practitioners from various fields with economists and social scientists who can deliver first-hand research insight. Our aim is to foster an international exchange of views and perspectives, and to challenge researchers to make their results more relevant to various fields of practice and policy.
If you want to join WeLaR’s stakeholder community, please subscribe to the newsletter or write us a short email (firstname.lastname@example.org). We look forward to having you join the conversation!