During my project in Italy, I met and communicated with many young people, and I was always surprised that every second of these young people told me that they want to move to another country and do not see their future in Italy. The main and, as a rule, the only reason is that they think they can’t find a job and make a good career in their own country. Therefore, in this article I would like to find out whether there is a real problem with youth unemployment in Italy.
According to the European Union’s standards, youth unemployment refers to people aged between 15 and 24. And in this case, Italy has the highest rate of young people in neither jobs nor education across the Eurozone.
Since the recent financial crisis ended, there was an increase in unemployment rates by 20 percent in several nations of Europe. There were soaring rates of youth unemployment across the countries reaching 40 to 50 per cent. One of the primary causes of youth unemployment in Italy is the transition period between school and work. The Italian education system is unable to transition students from studying to gaining work experience. Once finished with education, young Italians are without experience in the employment market. Their inexperience is due to insufficient contact between the secondary education in Italy and the labor market, specifically in the way recent graduates lack vocational training. A pension reform in 2012 also increased the retirement age, which meant that younger workers didn’t replace as many soon-to-be retired staff.
In the last few years, the media in Italy increasingly addresses the issue of international migration flows of young people as a phenomenon of brain drain. The high rate of unemployment encourages young citizens to leave the country. In fact, the main reason for the high numbers of young people leaving the country is the prospect of job opportunities abroad. Qualified Italians who choose to emigrate to Northern Europe are able to make between 29% and 48% more than their counterparts who remain in Italy. In the majority of the cases, the young unemployed emigrate in either other countries of the EU (mainly the United Kingdom and Germany) or in the United States and Australia. In 2016, more than 39% of Italian emigrants were of age between 18 and 34. Additionally, the percentage of young Italian emigrants is increasing every year at a steady rate.
2. North-South Division
It is often argued that Italy is made up of two different economies, one belonging to the North and one to the South. In terms of youth unemployment, there is a regional divide between North and South within Italy. In 2016, Italy presented one of the most internally diverse regional unemployment rates among the EU member states (together with other Southern European countries such as Greece and Spain). More than half of the young population was unemployed in the southern regions of Italy (Calabria, Campania, Puglia and Sicilia). On the other hand, unemployment rates in the northern regions (such as Lombardia, Piemonte and Veneto) varied between 5% and 10%.
What is the EU doing to help solve the problem with youth unemployment?
The EU supports Member States in reducing youth unemployment and increasing the youth employment rate in line with the wider EU target of achieving a 75% employment rate for the working-age population (20-64 years).
The Youth Guarantee is a commitment by all Member States to ensure that all young people under the age of 25 years receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. It is based on the Council Recommendation adopted in April 2013 following a proposal from the Commission.
The Youth Guarantee has shifted the focus to early intervention and outreach to NEETs, and highlighted the gaps in delivering services to unemployed youth. As a result, the majority of public employment services have improved and expanded their services for young people.
Apprenticeship and traineeship reforms have helped better prepare young people for the labour market and build relevant skills. Coordination among employment, education, social and youth policies has increased. New partnerships have been set up with social partners, youth services and youth organizations.
The Youth Employment Initiative, together with significant dedicated investments by the European Social Fund are the key EU financial resources to support implementation of the Youth Guarantee on the ground for the 2014-2020 programming period. The Youth Employment Initiative began with EUR 6.4 billion for most affected Member States. Thanks to its positive impact, it was then increased to 8.8 billion in 2017. By giving priority to youth employment in their national budgets, Member States may avoid higher costs in the future.