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V 06. Priority 4

Application of new knowledge, skills and technologies in order to increase the competitiveness of products and services in rural areas

From the findings of the Leader+ initiative,the‘Application of new knowledge, skills and technologies in order to increase the competitiveness of products and services in rural areas’, with11 % of the total selected projects, is the least chosen of the four vertical themes. However, the fact that the theme was picked by fewer LAGs does not show the whole picture, since it has also a horizontal as­pect. In many projects, new know-how and new technologies are used to support projects in the other themes.

The Internet and its related technology is a popular recurring application in rural development. We see the same technology applied in a different and innovative way to achieve similar ends, notably the inclusion of the local populations in both village and informa­tion societies. In rural areas though, the use of new know-how and new technologies is not just about information and communication. It equally applies to: distance learning and training, environmental management, healthcare, renewable energy, processing land-based and marine products, and in the production of alternative crops and biotechnologies.

Generally, ‘knowing how’ is not always the same as technological innovation, which means that the better or wider use of what exists may be more appropriate. In this respect, technology or know-how should be relevant for its target audience. Women, young people and traditional farmers will have a different social and cultural attitude compared with new entrepreneurs coming to a rural area from outside the region. Similarly, for the different sub­ject areas as outlined above, we can think about how new know-how and new technology can be used to stimulate not only rural development but also to develop the tech­nology itself.

In the case of renewable energy, rural areas are often at the forefront of its development. This is not surprising, since energy projects based and linked to locally grown or sourced primary materials such as wood, biomass, recycled methane and water are often directly related to other rural priorities such as farm diversificationandeconomies of scale for collective processing facilities. For Leader+ projects, these linkages are significant,and as such, have the potential to deliver direct local economic as well as environmental benefits.

In terms of the European Union’s economic and so­cial policy the adoption of new technologies and growth of ‘knowledge-based’ industries is a vital element, since they have clear implications for competitiveness, em­ployment and information society. The strategic use of information and communication technologies (ICT) helps to bring distant markets closer together, develop knowledge networks and not least combats social ex­clusion. For small businesses, ICT can often provide the necessary support for primary research, especially in bringing new products to the market. The Valencia Dec­laration, of February 2003, stated that:

‘Rural areas are a core European asset, which can reach their full potential by using new information and communication technologies (ICT) to increase the quality of life and work opportunities of the citizens in rural areas; to strengthen the development of the rural economy, both in the traditional and the new sectors, enabling rural areas to fully integrate and participate in the knowledge-based economy of Europe.’

Under Leader+ there are many differentwaysthatnew‘know-how’ and new technology have been integrated into a project, and have had a positive impact on the work and lives of those living there.

Priority 4: Application of new knowledge, skills and technologies in order to increase the competitiveness of products and services in rural areas
Measures
Activity 1
Activity 2
Activity 3
4.1 Support to young people in acquiring new skills in the process of transition from school to employment
4.1.1 Support to development of entrepreneurial skills among young people
4.1.2 Support to financial literacy programs for young people 
 4.1.2 Support to ICT literacy programs for young people
4.2 Promotion and support of the concept of lifelong learning activities
4.2.1 Improving the skills of employed labor force to meet the new needs of Employers (pre / upgrading)
4.2.2 Improving the skills of the unemployed labor force in order to adjust to new market needs 
4.2.3 Promotion of lifelong learning accessible to everyone (young, elderly, unemployed older than 45)
4.3 Support the introduction of new technology and ICT
4.3.1 Support the introduction of new technologies in order to enhance work efficiency and increase competitiveness
 
4.3.2 Providing support to cleaner production projects which reduce existing negative impacts on the environment
 4.3.3 Support the provision of high-speed Internet access (broadband) in the most remote villages

 

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