Italy’s overall unemployment rate stands at 11.5 percent, but for younger Italians that statistic is much higher; the most educated in the country’s history, Italy’s young adults are likely to find only temporary work or no work at all. For those between the ages of 15 and 24, unemployment in Italy is at 37.9 percent, ranking the country one of the highest in the EU for youth unemployment, behind only Greece and Spain. Older workers, many looking to retire soon, enjoy permanent, stable jobs with pensions and benefits. Italy has also one of the EU’s largest gender gaps, according to the World Economic Forum’s latest Gender Gap Ranking. With a large informal work sector, Italy is also vulnerable to the world’s economic fluctuations.
Vibo Valentia is the Italian province with the lowest employment rates in the nation: only 35.8% of 15-64 year olds are employed, compared to 71.4% in Bolzano (the province with the highest rates). Elsewhere in the South, with 32.2%, Crotone has the highest unemployment rates overall; Cosenza has the unenviable record of the highest unemployment rate among young women (84.4%) in all of Italy.
Italy has the second-highest difference between male and female employment rates (18.3%) in all of Europe—only Malta has a greater difference (25.2%). These are just a few of the facts for 2016, presented by the Statistical Observatory of Labour Consultants in early January, in their “First Report on Job Market Dynamics in Large Italian Cities and Provinces”. The investigation reveals that Italian workers’ education levels are very low, in comparison to the rest of Europe: almost a third only have a junior high school diploma (31.8%, versus the EU average of 17.8%). Education levels are dramatically low in the South, especially in the province of Nuoro, where 55.1% of employees have not completed compulsory schooling.
Only 21% of workers hold a degree, compared to the European average of 33.4%; this figure emphasizes the need to enact policies to halt brain drain among young Italian graduates. The greatest cause of alarm in terms of unemployment (and it couldn’t have been anything else) is the subject of youth unemployment: 40.3%, Italy’s rate is more than double the European average (20.3%), with dramatic spikes in the province of Medio Campidano (74.7%). More flattering figures can be found in Bolzano (11.9%), where degree apprenticeships are more common and widespread—the so-called “dual system.”
The Observatory has also studied immigrant workers in Italy’s 13 largest cities, emphasizing that foreign employment rates (66.6%) are, on average, 9 percentage points higher than Italian employment rates. This discrepancy is the lowest in Milan (69.4% among Italians, 72.9% among immigrants), but widens significantly in Naples (58.3%, versus 34.8%). There are challenges to the country whose economic growth has been slow and uncertain, but Italy’s growth exists and should continue, according to experts. There is reason for cautious optimism for jobseekers.
Employment rates of people with low levels of education remain significantly lower than average: since the beginning of the economic crisis, the employment rate fell by 3 points percentage for those with only a primary school degree and by 5.4 for persons with only an intermediate school degree. Most worrying, in particular, is the phenomenon of young people 15-24 years old who are not engaged in any work activity or included in educational/training pathway (NEET), estimated at about 1.27 million (including 181 thousand foreign citizens), 21% of the population of this age group. This percentage exceeds 30% in some of the most relevant regions in the South of Italy (Campania, Calabria and Sicily).
In this context it is more significant to better understand which are the most wanted jobs for young people; what professions can be followed without high qualifications or obtained in non-formal ways; jobs in which young people from disadvantaged groups (young people with disabilities, refugees) can have success.
“Garanzia Giovani” (Youth Guarantee in ENG): Legislative decree of 21 April 2000, N. 181 (current version after amendments) already provides the guarantee of an offer concerning “the proposal to join an initiative for work inclusion/training/professional requalification/any other measure favouring professional integration”, with regard to young people (up to 25 years old, or if in possession of a university degree, up to 29 years old) within four months from the beginning of unemployment. For some time already, Regions have tried to limit the negative effects of the crisis. Through the establishment of integrated policies of training and employment. In many cases, they have used “special plans for youth employment”, assuming that extraordinary measures are required to support young people to enter the labour market in a qualified way.
In this context, Law-Decree of 12 September 2013 N. 104 (converted with amendments into Law N. 128/2013):
- introducing tools for strengthening guidance in the education system within comprehensive secondary schools (6.6 million euro), in order to support students in developing appropriate training and professional projects with respect to their skills and expectations
- strengthening work-based learning in secondary schools (especially technical/vocational institutes), organized by the technical-professional Centres
- implementing the work-based learning system, work experience, internships and teaching in lab, the Ministry of Education will adopt a regulation on the rights/duties of students in the last two years of high school involved in training courses.
Law-Decree of 28 June 2013, N. 76 (converted with amendments into Law August 9, 2013, N. 99) “Primi interventi urgenti per la promozione dell’occupazione, in particolare giovanile”. More particularly, this law foresees an incentive for the recruitment of young workers (aged 18-29) with open ended contracts. The first phase of implementation of the incentive (which applies to recruitments taking place after August 7, 2013) has already involved around 13,000 young people and 6,800 employers (as of October 17, 2013). The same decree also provides for simplification measures for apprenticeships and the funding of a plan to promote traineeships and of measures of self-employment and business creation in the South. These measures add up to a general framework of support of apprenticeship contracts: these contracts namely benefit from an extremely favourable tax rate. Finally, to achieve the objectives of the Guarantee, the Article 5 of Decree N. 76/2013 has established a special mission structure that involves, in addition to the Labour Ministry and its Technical Agencies (Isfol and Italia Lavoro), INPS, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Department of Youth, the Ministry of Finance, Regions and Autonomous Provinces, the Provinces and Chambers of Commerce Union (Unioncamere). The present Plan has been developed thanks to the work of the mission structure.
Existing measures are mainly co-financed by the ESF. Italy is one of the Member States benefiting from extra support through the European Commission Youth SME action teams, aimed at better targeting structural funds in favour of employment and job creation. About EUR 6 400 million of EU financing were re-allocated through the work of the action team; 128 300 young people and around 28 000 SMEs are thus likely to benefit from re-allocation of funds.
Thanks to the use of structural funds, a Cohesion Action Plan was adopted in Italy to accelerate the implementation of structural funds in the Meridione. EUR 3.7 billion (of which EUR 1.4 billion in favour of education and employment) were directed in December 2011 to regional operational programmes towards education, employment, railways and the digital agenda.
Law 12 march 1999, n. 68, on job right for disable people. This amendment mentions all the categories dividing them into physic and mental disease and indications e requirements to the private and public sector to hire disable people within their staff.