Worldwide rural communities face interrelated economic, social, and ecological challenges. The project StayOn’s ultimate objective is to create conditions that enable young people to “stay on” rural areas by ensuring access to opportunities, benefits, services, and jobs.

But how to do so? 

The project targets the Trikala Prefecture in the rural hinterland of central Greece, which annually loses 1% of the farming population due to the retirement of the old farmers. The leading causes are the low prices of traditional crops, little to no training in new technologies and a general absence of involvement of local universities and authorities to transmit new knowledge to the farmers.


In Ireland, StayOn operates in County Meath, north of Dublin, where the rural communities of Athboy and Kells are increasingly becoming commuter towns to the capital city. The economic crisis and the lack of local job opportunities have particularly affected young people living here. They can only aspire to occasional jobs or move to other contexts that offer more employment opportunities.

The project also supports youth in several Italian municipalities in the northwest part of Sicily, where the youth unemployment rate has recently reached 40%. The economy is based predominantly on fishing and farming, with the cultivation of vines and olive trees being the main focus. The loss of old trades and the difficulty in becoming self-employed often make migration the only opportunity to create a future for oneself.

The Podlaskie Voivodeship communities, where one-third of people are employed in agriculture, will be at the center of StayOn’s operations in Poland. These rural and urban-rural communes are struggling with significant economic problems that have led most young people to move to larger cities to find employment. In recent times, Ukrainian citizens have been moving to this region due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This situation is leading to sudden changes in the area’s social and economic conditions.

Finally, the project supports youth in the Azores (Portugal), a transcontinental archipelago located in the northeast Atlantic with unique economic characteristics in terms of infrastructure development, education opportunities, and geographical features. A critical factor for the fragmented socio-economic landscape is that services and state infrastructures are not equally available for all islands or even some municipalities of the bigger islands; this inequality indirectly and directly affects the youth on the islands.

We’ve examined current and future labor market needs in these communities and identified six driving forces of youth employment that represent crucial potentials for implementing support solutions for NEETs:

  1. the skills mismatch,
  2. the poor skills of job seekers
  3. the type of education chosen by youth,
  4. informal work,
  5. the types of contracts offered to young adults,
  6. and socio-economic and demographic factors.

Of course, these six crucial potential play different roles, depending on the region in question.

The five full potentials assessment reports can be found on the StayOn website, in our Impact Compass section.

Enjoy the reading or watch the following explainer video: