Recently named amongst the three finalists for the 2011 European Enterprise Awards, the multi-award-winning Barcelona Activa, Barcelona City Council’s Local Development Agency, is a one-stop shop for business incubation, employment, vocational training and career planning.
Based in the 22@ district, Barcelona Activa is, appropriately for the values it seeks to embody, many things at once: modular, multi-purpose, a self-contained hub that nevertheless works in close collaboration with several other leading organisations and facilities, including the Convent de Sant Agustí in Ciutat Vella and centres in each of the city’s neighbourhoods. With so many different aspects to Barcelona Activa, the easiest way to understand its services, is to break them down by activity.
PORTA22 - centre for professional development
Barcelona Activa’s Porta22 new occupations building, 2000 square-metres' worth of facilities dedicated to professional development, offers a personal advice service and a free-to-use work space (it should be noted that this not a co-working space, but rather a place where entrepreneurs can bring their laptop to work on their business plan) and library, as well as running regular training courses and activities, including sector presentations, job fairs and lectures featuring leading figures from top firms. Young people are particularly well catered for (this group accounts for 20,000 visits to the centre every year) through initiatives including 'Entrepreneurs at School' and the 'Career plan project', as well as an array of general careers resources.
CENTRE PER A LA INICIATIVA EMPRENEDORA (Glòries) - space aimed at those people with a business idea, offering advice on their business plan and finding financing
Another BcnActiva facility is the Glòries Entrepreneurship Centre and Business Incubator (CIE), which provides bespoke services for start-ups and fledgling entrepreneurs. This centre is the driving force behind such programmes as 'aXelera for global eXcellence', which seeks to support the internationalisation of Barcelona-based enterprises with high growth potential, introducing them to top investors in business centres such as London and Paris. The entrepreneurship branch also developed the 'Do it in Barcelona' campaign (a 2010 Eurocities Award winner in the Innovation category), promoting Barcelona as the ideal destination for foreign start-ups through welcome sessions (Live and Set-up in Barcelona), networking events and the release of the manuals 'Welcome to Barcelona. Practical relocation guide for business people' and 'Setting up in Barcelona / a practical guide'. The publication and translation into English of a first and second edition of 'Pensat a Barcelona' ('Thought up in Barcelona'), volumes bursting with innovative ideas hailing from Barcelona, have also served to raise the profile of the city’s business minds.
CIBERNÀRIUM - Offering digital training at both beginner and expert levels.
Technology professionals can brush up on or enhance their skills at the iconic MediaTIC building, where they will find the new Cibernàrium, the spin-off of the original facility in the Barcelona Nord Technology Park (Nou Barris), which also continues to operate introductory internet courses for the general public.
OTHERS: CAN JAUMANDREU I CA N'ANDALET (offering professional training for the unemployed) AND CONVENT DE SANT AGUSTI (activities focused on commercial businesses and support for creating businesses for groups and sectors needing special attention)
SERVICES IN ENGLISH
In August 2009, the Do it in Barcelona project kicked off, and with it came services in English - training for entrepreneurs (carried out at CIE) and services connected with the employment market (found at Porta22). In 2010, Do it in Barcelona helped 600 foreign entrepreneurs and professionals, while training in orientation and professional development in English at Porta22 had 232 participants; a course in English about the creation of companies was attended by 378 people. Barcelona Activa also organises Welcome Sessions for foreign business-people and entrepreneurs - these are informative sessions given in English about the services and tools available to entrepreneurs.
Already launched in Catalan and Castilian and gradually becoming available in English, the Porta22 website features a host of job-related tools, divided into three main sections. The 'Person' area is designed to help users find suitable occupations by exploring their interests with the Professional Interests Test and gauging their potential through the Aptitudes page, both of which come with links to related activities and training sessions organised by Barcelona Activa. 'Tools' features details of on- and offline job-seeking channels, guidelines for writing CVs and cover letters, job interview tips and exercises and a map of different employment facilities in the city. Browse the 'Market' section, meanwhile, for a breakdown of the different economic sectors, a survey of emerging industries with the best employment prospects, job market indicators and even a dedicated labour law area.
The 'Market' area also contains the pièce de résistance, the occupation search engine, through which you can enter keywords and drop-down filters to search a bank of thousands of job profiles as diverse as bakery assistant, actor, internet quality assurance engineer and gene therapy expert. Each profile features various tabs: 'Get to know this occupation', with an overview of the job in question and a detailed description of the tasks involved; 'What do you need?', which sets out entry requirements for each position, including education, experience, interests and soft skills; 'This occupation on the market', with details of salary and information on whether it is possible to work freelance; and 'Get to know the industry', featuring an introductory video to the professional field to which the job belongs, sector-specific reports, and a useful links section.
Best of all, there is direct access to job offers from sources such as Infojobs, Infofeina, Manpower and Trabajando, in the shape of a vacancy pane on the homepage of each occupation as well as a separate 'Job vacancies' tab.
To make use of Barcelona Activa's services and take part in the training activities, it's necessary to register online. www.barcelonactiva.cat
Read about foreigners' experiences with Barcelona Activa, click these links from our Entrepreneurs Explained section: Emma Grenham, founder of the Kids in Barcelona website; Ed Hamilton, owner of Green Bean business and financial coaching; Tania Gauder, the founder of Curvaciones; Jeremy Cormican, the owner of Pro Blanco