In recent decades, cities have become havens for young people. The exodus from the country to the city has been a recurring phenomenon in the past, especially in times of poor economic development.

Today, these are places where youth unemployment has particularly increased. However, they also play a special role in combating unemployment as they generate important economic activities.

There are too many young people in situations of risk or exclusion in cities. In Europe, this phenomenon is becoming increasingly apparent. Since 2008, the number of unemployed young people has increased considerably. In other continents, such as Latin America or Africa, cities are also acting as a source of attraction for young people as they offer more and better opportunities for their professional development.

In Cali (Colombia), where youth unemployment rates stand at 33%, public initiatives in cooperation with the private sector have managed to offer 4,000 young people in risk of social exclusion the chance to acquire new skills required by the companies in the region to improve their employability. The programme, promoted by Jóvenes en Acción (Youth in Action), also offers courses for prospective entrepreneurs and paid internship arrangements.

Another successful case can be found in Kenya. The investment made (about 70 million dollars) has helped to promote the entrepreneurial spirit of young people in African cities and has provided credit for new generations to develop their business ideas.

The latest case comes from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, where the public institutions are offering “educational improvements” that are affecting employment, schools, and training. These are free services that aim to offer young people something more to enhance their basic education.

In Europe, Eurocities has already stated, on several occasions, the role played by cities in the Old Continent in combating youth unemployment. For this association of European cities, youth unemployment is a priority. Therefore, they recommend working in close cooperation with public employment systems to make the most of the funds made available. They also recommend maintaining a good guidance service and implementing systems that offer young people the skills the labour market is demanding.