Metropolis: The answer to youth unemployment might be in our past

6 December 2018 | News, School

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”

In these words from Night Train to Lisbon, Swiss author and philosopher Pascal Mercier summarizes what many young people experience in Europe today: That familiar tension between wishing to live their lives in the places they call home, and the frequent impossibility of doing so because home simply does not offer any employability.

There is an intense link between the past and the present, a romantic aspect in the way we can learn from things that are gone. However, there is a link which may prove even more central in a person’s life and that is the connection between the past and the future. What can yesterday teach us about tomorrow?

The answer to this question is probably going to be different for each one of us, but it certainly set the basis for our collaboration with five other partner organizations to start a new project called Metropolis – Linking Cultural Heritage to the Jobs of the Future.

We all felt like an increasing percentage of the youth in our cities is leaving to other countries because they have no future at home. Part of the problem is that young people do not trust their cities as places which can provide them with solid opportunities. All too frequently the only option is to pack and go away.

The cities involved in Metropolis are affected by high youth unemployment levels. In most cases, a progressive process of economic crisis transformed these cities from areas of industrial and/or agricultural development to places marked by lack of employment, youth emigration, and technological immobility. To the point that new generations have failed to appreciate the positive elements of their urban past, having grown up only with the negative aspects.

What we want to do with Metropolis for the next 30 months is to offer a tangible alternative to our youth. This will take place in 6 cities: Bradford (UK), Furth (Germany), Hebden Bridge (UK), Monceau-sur-Sambre (Belgium), Nicosia (Cyprus), and Palermo (Italy). And it will place as much focus on future employment as on the past of these cities, making use of digital technology.

Firtsly, we will research to find out what skills and competences are exactly needed in these regions today, conscious of the fact that as times are changing fast, new professions are arising while older ones are coming back in the market scene.

Then, we will research about their economic past, digging into urban architecture and identifying those buildings and locations which used to be symbols of economic and industrial development and that have been (or can be) adapted to new market demands.

Finally, we will collate all this information into interactive city map guides which young people can use to both discover their past and learn about their future economic potential at home, helping them tailor their skills’ acquisition to local market needs.

What about educators and guidance professionals working with young people? Metropolis will also provide innovative methodologies for them, by creating an online training package on how to make the best use of digital technology in their guidance work with the youth.

Are you an educator, career guidance professional, or someone who works in close contact with young people from one of the above-mentioned cities? Do you also feel like more can be done to help our youth find their role at home?

If so, you should know that Metropolis has officially kicked off this November and we are looking forward to having you on board. Get in touch with Eileen Quinn at this address:

About the project

Metropolis – Linking Cultural Heritage to the Jobs of the Future is co-financed by Erasmus+ programme (Key Action 2, Strategic Partnerships for school education).


The partnership holds together 6 organisations:

For further information

Read more about Metropolis.

Contact Eileen Quinn,