By Julian Siravo
In 2019, Autonomy – a UK-based think tank that focuses on the future of work and economic planning – was tasked with developing a strategy to future-proof the economy of the Comunidad Valenciana, one of Spain’s largest regions. The report was commissioned by the region’s employment service, SERVEF which had recently changed its name to a catchier “LABORA”. Employment secretary Enric Nomdedeu and his team were working to rid the service (the equivalent of our Jobcentre Plus) of its negative connotations and lack of agency. As this article outlines, we made a series of proposals outlining how local and regional authorities could radically rethink work. But these don’t just apply to Valencia – they could be a blueprint for municipalities everywhere.
In February 2019 we visited Valencia, guided by Joan – the architect of our collaboration with the region – and Ramon, who was heading the efforts to regenerate the city’s waterfront. As he walked us across the vast empty shell of a Formula 1 track towards David Chipperfield’s America’s Cup building, Ramon explained that the city was in the process of emancipating itself from two decades of events-based speculative planning practices and tourist-driven development. Voted in on a socialist and ecologist ticket, Joan and the rest of Nomdedeus’ team represented a shift away from the low-value and precarious forms employment these policies gave rise to.