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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.6 Integration of young people in the labour market

Last update: 19 March 2024

Youth employment measures

In Italy, youth employment is encouraged through both structural and short-term measures. They include the provision of hiring incentives (in the form of tax relief) for new employees, direct job creation, support for entrepreneurship [referred to in 3.83.10], active labour market policies and programmes to strengthen the school-to-work transition, developed through the implementation of the European Youth Guarantee program.

Hiring/recruiting Incentives

Hiring incentives consist of financial benefits recognized to employers for recruiting specific categories of workers, deemed disadvantaged in the labour market. The national repertory of incentives is available on the ANPAL and further information is provided by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies. With reference to young people, specific attention is given, for example, to: students who have completed a period of work-based experience or apprenticeship, NEETs (between 16 and 29 years old) enrolled in the Youth Guarantee program, young people under the age of 35 parents of minors, unemployed young people who receive Naspi for recruitment as a professional apprenticeship, young people who follow specific training courses [see for dedicated incentives 3.5].

As already mentioned, the 2022 budget law confirmed the Youth Recruitment Bonus, to support the permanent employment of young people under 35.

Particularly relevant are the incentives for hiring that imply the detaxing of employers for up to 3 years, to facilitate the access to work for young people under 35, especially women.

Youth Guarantee

The Youth Guarantee program is one of the pillars of the Italian policies aimed at promoting youth employment and at tackling the unemployment of NEETs up to 29 years of age. The program has two objectives: to promote training and placement in the labour market also through temporary work-based experiences. For this reason, as specified in the Italian Youth Guarantee Implementation Plan, and in line with the European Recommendation of 2013, but expanding the age range of the target of beneficiaries from 25 to 29 years, Italy guarantees young people under the age of 30 a qualitatively valid offer of work, further education, apprenticeship or traineeship, within 4 months of becoming unemployed or leaving education.

The specific measures provided for by the Program are: counselling, guidance, vocational training and qualification, job searching services, apprenticeships, internships, Civil Service, support for self-employment, professional mobility within the national territory or in EU countries, hiring incentives.

To properly establish the level and characteristics of the services provided and increase their effectiveness, it was decided to introduce a profiling system in the Youth Guarantee that takes into account the distance from the labour market, in order to offer tailor-made measures on the basis of territorial, demographic, family and individual features.

The management of YG is ensured through a multi-level governance approach, entrusted:

  • at the national level to ANPAL [see 3.2], as the managing authority of the PON (National Operational Program) Youth Employment Initiative (PON IOG),
  • at the regional level to the Regions/PA of Trento as Intermediate Entities of the PON IOG and as promoters of complementary actions funded under its POR FSE as well as with other regional resources.

Youth-focused flexicurity measures

The recent reforms of the Italian labour market are explicitly based on the logic of flexicurity [cf. 3.1.], and aim to support labour transitions, combining active labour market measures (e.g. employment services and vocational training courses) with income support measures. These are measures generally intended for all workers, without age restrictions: they are therefore not specifically designed for young people, although in some cases young people are among the primary targets.

Under the Jobs Act [cf. 3.1.], young people (also) have the right to benefit from the ordinary monthly unemployment allowance (NASPI), from the DIS-COLL (monthly unemployment allowance for coordinated and continuous collaborators, including project-based, doctoral students and research fellows who have involuntarily lost their jobs), and other income support measures, if the eligibility requirements are met. Indemnities’ clauses have been established: the recipient has the duty to register in employment centres so as to sign a Personal Service Agreement and consequently follow the re-employment project.

Young people, aged 18 and over, if earning an income below a certain threshold, could (also) access the Citizenship Income (RdC). It is a minimum income scheme introduced by the Decree Law of 28 January 2019, n. 4 to combat poverty and exclusion. RdC pursues a twofold strategy: sustaining family income and promoting recipients’ employment and social inclusion. Services to support the reintegration of RdC beneficiaries in the labour market are managed by the Employment Services: once they have declared their immediate availability for work (through the Pact for work), beneficiaries can access personalised support services. Regarding the support to social inclusion, RdC beneficiaries who are not employable (e.g. due to inability to work, severe disability, caregiving responsibilities etc.) are supported by territorial social services through the Pact for social inclusion. INAPP has recently produced a detailed report assessing the results and effects of the measure.

Italy can access the European Globalization Adjustment Fund (EGF) for supporting workers and even self-employed workers who have lost their jobs due to globalisation or the economic and financial crisis. The EGF finances personalised active labour market measures, such as vocational training and retraining, guidance, job searching services, support for entrepreneurship and self-employment. These are measures aimed at encouraging the disadvantaged unemployed, young and old, to stay or return into the labour market. Specific short-time measures are also financed, e.g.: allowances for job search, hiring incentives, compensation for territorial mobility, subsistence or training allowance or salary supplement for those participating in training and lifelong learning activities. The request for support is made to the European Commission through the ANPAL and on the initiative of the Regions or Autonomous Provinces where the redundancies occur, in a single company or in the same sector. Under certain conditions, a request for support from the EGF can complement the measures for dismissed workers with a plan of measures aimed at a number of NEETs resident in the same territory in which the crisis occurred, at most equal to the redundancies for which the request is activated.

In order to encourage young people to reach an adequate future retirement income, the degree redemption measure was introduced, facilitated by Legislative Decree no. 4/2019. The redemption, also targeted at young and unemployed people, provides for a more advantageous method of calculating the cost than the ordinary one.

Reconciliation of private and working life for young people

The goal of balancing work and private life has long been a priority on the Italian political agenda. National legislation promotes effective policies of reconciliation and equal opportunities, gender and age equity, also by supporting a balanced distribution of paid work and caregiving responsibilities. The Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, the Department of Equal Opportunities, the Department for Family Policies are in charge of establishing regulatory measures in this field. Although the measures are not addressed at age groups, young people tend to be the main recipients.

Reconciliation between private life and work is primarily regulated by maternity, paternity and parental leave policies, pursuant to the Consolidated Law (Legislative Decree 151/2001) and subsequent updates. Recent labour market reforms [cf. 3.1.] intervened on the subject, increasing the protections for parents, e.g. prolonging paternity and parental leave periods, care leave periods for caregivers of people with disabilities and not self-sufficient people; favouring part-time work. This with the aim of universally extending these protections to all male and female workers, employees and self-employed.

As part of the national and regional programming under the European Social Fund [ITAENG] in support of employment and inclusion, the promotion of work-life balance translates into two main lines of action: the improvement of care services and the development of occupational welfare at a firm level.

Many Regions, with the resources of the European Social Fund, have started the experimentation of territorial networks for work-life balance, with the establishment of “Territorial Gender Agreements” between public and private entities aimed at promoting female employment and access to socio-educational services for minors.

In the same vein, the project "Equality for work and life" (EQW&L) was established, coordinated by the National Agency for Active Labour Policies (ANPAL). This project, funded by EaSI-PROGRESS aims to create a new model of intervention and a kit of tools that facilitate equal opportunities and access to the labour market.

Funding of existing schemes/initiatives

Italy uses its own funds, as well as those of the European Social Fund, to increase the employment opportunities of young people, help disadvantaged groups, increase the skills of the workforce, empower national education and training systems as well as improve administrative capacities and implement the Youth Guarantee program.

On the basis of the Partnership Agreement, the programming of ESF resources is divided into national operational programs (PON) and regional operational programs consistently with the distribution of institutional competencies that characterises the country. The funds are used on the basis of Operational Programs developed and managed by national and regional management authorities, to carry out projects entrusted to operators, organisations or companies, public or private, called “beneficiaries”. The latter are identified by the managing authorities through public procedures.

Following the COVID19 pandemic, for the period 2021-2027, the European Social Fund Plus would be worth €101.2 billion, and the Globalisation Adjustment Fund €1.6 billion. Both are geared to invest in people: ensuring they are equipped with the right skills needed to deal with challenges and changes on the labour market, following up on the European Pillar of Social Rights.

European Social Fund Plus

The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) is the European Union (EU)’s main instrument for investing in people and supporting the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. With a budget of almost EUR 99.3 billion for the period 2021-2027, the ESF+ will continue to provide an important contribution to the EU’s employment, social, education and skills policies, including structural reforms in these areas.

The ESF+ brings together four funding instruments that were separate in the programming period 2014-20: the European Social Fund (ESF), the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) , the Youth Employment Initiative and the European Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI).

Support under the ESF+ is mainly managed by Member States, with the Commission playing a supervisory role. Funding therefore takes place through:

The Youth Employment PON provides for a total financial endowment of approximately €2.7 billion, divided into Axis 1 aimed exclusively at young NEETs for an amount of approximately €2.2 billion and Axis 1 bis for an amount of approximately €497 million. It is funded by the European Social Fund, and finances projects aimed at promoting the employment of unemployed young people, not necessarily NEETs residing in regions with a delay in development and transition.

Great part of the Mission 5 of PNNR is focusing on improving active policies for work, to facilitate job employability for young people, especially in the South, to reduce the existing gap and to address the high presence of NEETs in the country. This refers to the already mentioned GOL and the new national plan for competences as well as to the intervention for the Special Economic Zones (ZES), for the internal areas, for the assets confiscated from organised crime and to those aiming at reducing educational poverty.

Quality assurance

For the analysis, monitoring and quality assessing of active labour market policies and employment services, the already mentioned National Agency for Active Labour Policies (ANPAL) [cfr. 3.2.] was established by Legislative Decree 150/2015. ANPAL’s tasks include: coordinating the network of services for labour policies, managing active labour policies, promoting the effectiveness of people rights concerning labour, training and qualification.

ANPAL periodically publishes monitoring notes on hiring incentives financed by National Operational Programs owned by ANPAL (PON IOG, PON SPAO, POC SPAO), on the implementation of "Youth Guarantee" (through physical and financial monitoring indicators) and on labour market policies.

ANPAL and all the Italian Regions are involved in the Sub-group “Analysis of Active Policies and development of methodologies”, established within the Active Labour Policies Committee with the DG ANPAL Decree no. 428 of 21/12/2017. The Sub-group represents a space for discussion on active labour market policies implementation at the regional level. In 2019, the Sub-group published the First Joint Annual Report on Active Labour Policies in Italy. ANPAL also provides periodic information on the state of implementation of the PON IOG through the analysis of the selected physical and financial indicators.

ANPAL also publishes the Assessment Report on the Youth Guarantee. The report presents the results of the research carried out by ANPAL, as required by the Evaluation Plan of the National Youth Employment Initiative Operational Program (PON). The report highlights the progress made in the implementation of the programme and the degree of achievement of the objectives.

As with ANPAP, INAPP [cfr. 3.2.] is in charge of analysing, monitoring and assessing labour market policies. It is worth mentioning the research conducted by INAPP and aimed at estimating the effect of hiring incentives, specifically those included in the Youth Guarantee program (YG). Through counterfactual econometric analysis the research showed the effectiveness of hiring incentives related to the YG program: specifically, they led to an increase in the share of newly hired employees equal to 3% (for companies who benefited from the incentives). The effect is even stronger if we consider the number of newly hired employees aged under 25.