Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme)

Building more and better jobs


LEED's mission is to contribute to the creation of more and better jobs through effective policy implementation, innovative practices, stronger capacities and integrated strategies at a local level.


"LEED was one of the first to practically respond to the crisis. Many OECD countries have very useful lessons on how to make local governance more effective through better horizontal coordination. Our LEED programme identifies and processes this valuable knowledge and provides us with guidance to make sure that our national policy frameworks offer integrated solutions to urgent challenges, like today’s unemployment crisis."

Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD


"Denmark's economy has weathered the crisis relatively well. Thanks to employment stability created by equipping people with the right skills to adapt as their economies evolve, we have avoided the worst of it. LEED has helped us to focus on giving people the relevant skills to adapt to the adjustment and structural change of the economy."

Jan Hendeliowitz, Chair of the LEED Directing Committee and Director Employment Region Copenhagen & Zealand, the Danish National Labour Market Authority

What does LEED do?

For the last three decades LEED has advised governments and communities on how to adapt to global trends and tackle complex problems in a fast changing world.

  • LEED improves the quality of public policy through continuous monitoring and assessment of current practices.
  • LEED promotes innovation in local economic and employment development across the globe.
  • LEED supports the design, implementation and evaluation of development strategies to help grow local economies.

LEED's recommendations are endorsed by 35 governments sitting on the LEED Directing Committee

Building quality jobs is the way to prosperity

As global markets slowly pick up it has never been more important for companies to become more innovative if they are to build more and better jobs.


They need to develop more advanced production processes, adopt new technologies and most importantly, make the most of the skills of their employees.

Innovation can be encouraged and supported by:

  • Ensuring education and training can adapt to changing employer demands quickly.
  • Helping the public and private sectors grasp the competitive advantages new technology can offer.
  • Encouraging greater investment in green technologies.

Innovation and good use of human resources ultimately leads to higher productivity. Governments can help stimulate more competitive economies with better quality jobs, higher incomes and better living standards.

LEED can call on an international body of best practice that illustrates how national and local policy can help communities create more and higher skilled employment opportunities.


Case Study
Creating quality jobs

LEED has worked with local and national agencies in the Lower Rio Grande region of Texas, to see how an integrated and flexible approach to local economic development can boost employment prospects.


Working across national governments and local agencies gives LEED unrivalled experience of international best practice in local economic development.


LEED's most recent study involved working with 11 countries across the world to document best practice examples of effective interaction between local and national organisations.


Across every project, flexibility and a joined-up inter-agency approach was the common factor for success.

What a flexible approach can achieve is ideally illustrated by the experiences of the city of McAllen in the Lower Rio Grande area of Texas.


Twenty years ago it suffered from 20% unemployment. To turn around the economic fortunes of the area a number of national and local agencies came up with an ambitious vision to be delivered through an integrated multi-agency strategy.


This joined-up strategic approach to local economic development has so far attracted more than 500 employers and nearly 100,000 jobs to the region.


In some areas unemployment has fallen from more then 40% to under 10%.


Although the economic downturn is putting pressure on McAllen, its long term fortunes have been reversed by the ability of agencies to work together effectively.



Twenty years ago local agencies were simply responding to local issues as they came up. We needed an integrated vision if we were to transform our economic fortunes. Flexibility from the state government allowed us to develop this vision and now all the local agencies work more closely together to deliver real results for the area."

Keith Patridge, President of McAllen Economic Development Corporation.


Beyond policy advice: Developing skills to tackle complex problems at the Trento Centre, LEED's capacity building facility

A customised approach to skills and employment

Government intervenes in many ways at a local level, but rarely are these interventions co- ordinated effectively.

 As economies recover, a closer inter-agency working must be encouraged if limited resources are to be used more effectively to develop skills.

  • There has to be a greater focus on combined action between services and different government programmes.
  • Any action has to be based on comprehensive local economic intelligence.
  • Delivering public policy as 'one size fits all' is not effective. Local solutions to local problems are the key to success. Flexibility is needed so that local agencies can work together to respond to local conditions, seize local opportunities and build on local strengths.

Governments can break down barriers and increase flexibility in local policy delivery, without sacrificing accountability and the achievement of national objectives.

LEED advises on taking an integrated approach to help improve skills and boost economic development.

The LEED team builds local capacity to deliver results, offers advice on area-based partnerships and benchmarks the performance of local development agencies.


Case Study Integrated skills strategy key to Shanghai success


Across the globe LEED has looked in-depth at how integrated local strategies can boost economic performance.


Few have been as successful as Shanghai’s Highland of Talent Initiative in improving skills in the labour market.


Having invested heavily throughout the 1990s in physical infrastructure, the Shanghai Municipal Government (SMG) realised that to become a truly competitive global city it had to strengthen the skills of its workers as well.


By 2000 the city had lost 90% of its leading scientists, 70% of its enterprise executives and managerial resources, and half its high level specialised talents to retirement.


In the face of this the SMG announced a local, multi-agency strategy to develop skills via four key themes: attracting Chinese overseas graduates, vocational training of on-the-job workers, training for local workers without jobs, and training of migrant workers. Training is now delivered on the basis of skills that are in demand from industry.


Results have been outstanding. The portion of highly skilled workers in Shanghai has risen from 6.2% in 2002 to more than 15% today. By analysing and assessing the success of the Highland of Talent Initiative the LEED team is in a strong position to support other areas looking to learn from what has been achieved in Shanghai.


Better targeted local investment

Access to finance is critical for the development of local communities.

Particularly during a recovery period there needs to be an injection of capital locally to help re- invigorate the economy.

  • New, innovative and alternative mechanisms to finance urban regeneration, local development and entrepreneurship must be looked at.
  • Public procurement has to be better exploited to achieve local strategic priorities, for example buying in more green technologies to help reach environmental targets.
  • With well-targeted support, non-profit organisations can also contribute to a thriving local environment. Building this sector requires the development of alternative funding methods such as venture philanthropy and social finance.

LEED helps governments and agencies develop innovative ways to finance local development. They can also help identify the best means for investing in the new economic opportunities brought by climate change.


Case Study
Innovative funding for future growth

Glasgow has been transformed over the last 20 years. With support from LEED the city is now looking at how it can use innovative funding mechanisms to continue its successful regeneration.

Glasgow's relationship with the OECD stretches back to the mid-1970s when it suffered catastrophic post industrial decline. Today the city is unrecognisable from this picture of decline.

It has transformed itself into one of the leading centres for life sciences, financial services, advanced engineering and retail services in the UK. All backed up with some of the best higher education facilities in Europe.

This transformation has gone hand in hand with the city's relationship with the LEED Programme. The city continues to work closely with LEED, particularly on local development finance issues and on using local investment tools more effectively.

This latest piece of work is the start of a framework that LEED is developing to look at local development finance issues and on using local investment strategies and tools more effectively.


"In the early days of Glasgow's transformation, methods of funding were relatively narrow and mostly involved direct subsidy of one form or another.
As the value of the city's assets increased however, we were anxious to look at new ways of using these assets more effectively to attract continuing public- private investment. LEED has helped us refine our strategy for doing this."

Stuart Patrick, Chief Executive, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce


Assessing expertise at source:
the rich and diverse body of stakeholders that form the LEED Partners Club and its three fora on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Development Agencies & Investment Strategies.

Developing an entrepreneurial spirit

Encouraging a higher entrepreneurial spirit is crucial in helping human and financial resources move from inefficient and declining economic activity into new knowledge intensive industries.

It's vital for government to provide the right conditions for entrepreneurship to flourish.

  • Governments need to identify and nurture people with the talent to innovate and develop new businesses.
  • Maintaining easy access to finance for growing companies is critical to encourage innovation and growth.
  • Social enterprise has a role to play in helping disadvantaged groups become more entrepreneurial.

 A more entrepreneurial society leads to innovation, both economic and social. LEED builds entrepreneurial spirit by identifying ways to support business growth and promote social entrepreneurship, helping to realise the innovative potential of local communities.


Case Study
Developing entrepreneurship in Barcelona

LEED has worked with the city authorities in Barcelona to turn it into one of the most entrepreneurial and forward looking in Europe.


For over twenty years LEED has drawn on the experiences of Barcelona Activa, the city's economic development agency, as an exceptional example of innovation at work.

Through their close working relationship with Activa, LEED is able to use the Barcelona experience as inspiration to help other cities around the world.


Through Activa, Barcelona has been able to transform itself into a socially cohesive and economically competitive city. It has become a byword for successful economic development throughout the world.


LEED has charted this journey and their latest study, Promoting entrepreneurialism, employment and business competitiveness: The Barcelona Experience, continues this work.



"It is a great pleasure for us to discover that the way we do things and how we manage the economic development of the city is recognised by LEED as key to our success here."

Mateu Hernandez, Executive Director of Economic Promotion for Barcelona.


"LEED helps national and local economies respond to today's economic challenges."

 Sergio Arzeni, Director, Centre for Entrepreneurship,
SMEs and Local Development

What can LEED do for you?

  • LEED leverages expertise from the five continents into expert task forces to provide rapid response and targeted advice on specific economic and social issues.
  • LEED delivers cross-country comparative projects and peer reviews drawing on the expertise of experienced practitioners and senior policy analysts.
  • LEED organises a range of events to help communities analyse and adapt to global trends and tackle the complex problems we all face in today's fast-changing world.
  • LEED delivers targeted and action-orientated research publications specifically designed for policymakers and practitioners.

How can we work together?

  • Contact LEED to participate in and learn from its cross-country comparative projects and peer reviews.
  • Build your capacities at LEED's Trento Centre for Local Development, in Italy
  • Join the LEED Partners' Club and access its range of forums: the Forum on Social Innovation, the Forum on Entrepreneurship and the Forum on Development Agencies and Investment Strategies.
  • Join LEED's world-wide network of practitioners: the Forum on Partnerships and Local Governance.
For more information contact:
Sylvain Giguère
Head of the LEED Division
+33 (0)1 45 24 85 70