In 1993, an information and counselling platform for professional and training guidance, insertion and development, was created inside the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie de la Villette (National Science and Industry Museum in La Villette, Paris, France): the Cité des Métiers. The idea was simple: to set up a single location where all types of users, whatever their age and status, could receive answers to their questions concerning their future career throughout their life.
Visited as soon as opened by a thousand users a day, the Cité des Métiers aroused the interest of players in professional and social integration, who wished to build on this experiment that, they thought, could be replicated in their own territories, as in Nîmes and Calais areas (southern and northern France). They suggested setting up a label that would affirm and guarantee a common conception of users’ reception and guidance.
From 1999 on, several platforms were opened with the label “Cité des Métiers”. The three first ones in France (Belfort, Nîmes, Côtes d’Armor in Brittany), and the fourth in Italy, Milano, at the initiative of teachers of psychology, whose aim was to professionalise guidance work through expanding it to “lifelong learning” and knowledge of the labour market.
The following year, two Città dei Mestieri e delle Professionni opened in on the same model in Italy, in Milano and Genova.
The “Network of the Cités des Métiers”, established as an association in October 2001, is becoming tighter at about the same speed in France and abroad, but is growing especially in Italy where to date it has several label-approved platforms.
So the Cités des Métiers are now offering their services in 9 countries, in Belgium, Chile, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Republic of Mauritius, Switzerland, Germany, and in France, in several Regions: Franche-Comté, Ile de France (Paris area), Normandy (Haute and Basse Normandie), Picardie, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Limousin, in Departments: Bas Rhin, Charente-maritime, Côtes d’Armor, and territories: Pays Gardois, also including several overseas locations : Guadeloupe, Réunion and Mayotte islands.
Cités des Métiers can be recognised to their common logo, made of two red squares; the upper one shows the name Cité des Métiers in the language of the country, the one below the name of the concerned geographic area, with, if needed, the mention “In project” or “Prefiguration”.
With the spread of the access to digital information, the concept of the Cité des Métiers is still very relevant: the multiplicity of the sources of information determined an increase in the need for guidance and for help to recognise opportunities more clearly.
In fact, if the concept of the Cité des Métiers has kept its currency, it is because its true added value resides in allowing to provide face-to-face advice and guidance, and because the Cités des Métiers have been able to make their offer evolve and stay the closest to their users’ needs.
The Cités des Métiers have been and are still demonstrating their relevance through their capacity to tailor their resources and advice to the new needs of their users – including through adaptation to new technologies. The Internet may have shaken the previous practices, it also gave birth to a new generation of tools that the Cités des Métiers were able to appropriate, thus optimising their services, as can be seen on the virtual Cité des Métiers : enligne.citedesmetiers.org.
The Cité des Métiers of tomorrow must combine an online service offer (social networking, Cité des Métiers online, cloud services on Proxima Mobile…) with a ceaseless evolution of its face-to-face services and initiatives fostering autonomy as well as the creation of social links.
To strengthen their efficiency and fight the isolation of the persons, the Cités des Métiers will have to become more and more places of collective self-training and socialisation. Paying close attention to the relevance of the services they provide to their users, the Cités des Métiers are constantly watching issues of equity and quality.