What exactly does SkillCity entail?
"Rotterdam has always been a city of workers and an enormous leap has been made over the past two decades to make it into the culture city of today. The group of youngsters and old people who missed the boat have now been left high and dry. From the basis of the Brede School (a network of various facilities for the youth), SkillCity tries to link cultural education and social skills in such a way that youth will be taken seriously for their skills and abilities. Neighbourhood activities and school internships should attune to this." – Skill is will, Henk Oosterling, september 2007.
"Creativity in the world of work is not limited to members of the Creative Class. (...) I strongly believe that the key to improving the lot of underpaid, underemployed and disadvantaged people lies not in social welfareprograms or low – end make work jobs (...) but rather in tapping the creativity of these people (...). – Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class, p. 10.
Rotterdam Skillcity is a research model for urban revitalisation and renovation, focused on the specific social-cultural and socio-economic situation of Rotterdam. Having transformed itself over a period of 40 years from an industrial harbour town with an international exposure to an economic-cultural metropolis, famous for its architectural landscape, his urban festivals and top sport events, Rotterdam strives to harbour service oriented enterprises, creative industries and information technologically based business.
Traditionally Rotterdam was dependent upon the immigration of low paid labourers, most of whom populated the socio-culturally weaker developed neighbourhoods of Rotterdam. After the post war immigration wave from Greece, Spain and Italy, in the course of the 1960’s of the 20th century immigrants arrived, mostly from countries like Turkey and Morocco, but over time from all those countries that want to profit from the globalisation process. On top of that the decolonisation process resulted in the immigration of people from Surinam and Antilleans.
Over a period of 40 years the socio-economic infrastructure of Rotterdam qualitatively changed, An international harbour turned into a global business area as a result of which more sophisticated and technologically enhanced skills were demanded. Recently the Economic Development Board Rotterdam (EDBR) advocates creative industries as a cultural-economic impulse of the urban economy.
However, in this turbulent process of urban upgrading many lower paid and lesser schooled groups within the population are not able to connect, many a pupil leaving school before attaining even the most basic starting qualifications that are needed for entering the job market. Unemployment within these groups is beyond the national average.
Rotterdam Skillcity not only provides a bottom up analysis of this socio-economic backlog, it also develops educational and socio-economic strategies to counter these tendencies. In doing this Richard Florida’s concept of cultural capital and his analysis of the creative city is downscaled to the neighbourhood level and Robert Putnam’s critique on the loss of social capital and his appeal to enhance ‘civic skills’ is applied to rephrase the concept of social cohesion.