In Italy, the young people’s transition to work is a priority, since the country has been facing high rates of youth unemployment and inactivity for a long time. Moreover, the ratio of NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training)is among the highest in Europe.
As a consequence of the ageing population and low birth rate that also characterise Italy, along with the increase in the retirement age, the lengthening of educational pathways, as well as the difficulties of entering the labour market, the proportion of young people among the employed is decreasing. In contrast, the precariousness rate and instability of professional careers is growing.
On the other hand, the education attainment level increases among young people employed. Those who have at least graduated have higher employment rates, as well as lower unemployment and inactivity rates. A tertiary level qualification, however, rewards in terms of employment and salary less than the European average. The production system struggles to increase the demand for high-skilled workers, that is why young graduates often risk being over-educated.
The COVID19 pandemic has of course taken a great toll on the lives of young people, whose working and professional opportunities have been highly impacted and where the precariousness of certain jobs has shown severe consequences. On the other hand the forceful switch towards smart-working and digital related professions showed the importance of young people and their competences in the workfields, where they proved to be a precious asset as those who were most capable to deal with the current challenges imposed by the pandemic.
Several measures have been taken by the Government and public authorities to promote youth employment: tax incentives and hiring subsidies for employers taking on young people; work-based learning programs and measures to facilitate job placement (skills certification systems, continuous vocational training, school-work experience, internships, apprenticeships); self-employment. The main pillar of youth employment policies is represented by the Youth Guarantee program, managed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies through the National Operational Program (PON): Youth Employment Initiative. Some other significant measures aimed at sustaining employment and, in particular, entrepreneurship, are not specifically targeted at young people, since there is no age limit, even though young people are often among the main recipients.