Almost one in 3 of young people does not study or work

Almost one in 3 of young people does not study or work

Young people in Italy work little and the work they do is a "poor" job in terms of skills and remuneration. Not only that: our country has the highest percentage of so-called "neets", girls and boys between 20 and 34 years of age who do not work, do not study and are not involved in other types of training and job start-up courses: they are 29.4% of that age group, precisely the highest percentage in the European Union. The problem, among other things, is that that figure is growing: in the higher sub-range (25-34 years) the incidence has in fact gone from 23.1% in 2008 to 30.7% in 2020, the last available year. More than 12 points above the EU average.

These are some of the truly disheartening evidences of the latest Oxfam report on inequalities called "Disuguitalia" which investigates in particular the conditions and prospects of the labor market in our country. A context in which, unfortunately, working is not enough to meet the needs of one's family and have prospects for a dignified future. Without straying too far from the part dedicated to young people, suffice it to say that in 2019 11.8% of Italian workers were at risk of poverty, over 2.5 points above the EU average. Over one in eight workers, before the pandemic, was counted among the working poor: at the time of the interview, they declared that they had worked for more than half of the reference year and that they belonged to a family unit with equivalent disposable income of less than 60 % of the national median available. In the public debate, the condition of working poverty is often associated, and sometimes liquidated, with low pay and wage stagnation. Salaries or wages are actually part of the story, but not the only one.

The Italian short circuit A piece of that history starts from the very young. With the pandemic which, to complicate the situation even more, has left profound signs: over two out of three young people who were "neet" in 2019 remained in the exact same condition a year later, over three out of four in Southern Italy or among the less educated young people or foreigners. The tendency, on average reduced, to innovation of Italian companies - a constant even before the two-year period 2020-2021 - is in fact accompanied by reduced investments in the specific human capital of the new generations. A vicious and harmful circle for the country.

It is no coincidence that Italy is driven by the oldest, in a short circuit that is condemning us. "Among the active forces of the country the older cohorts prevail, born up to the mid-1970s, entered the labor market in conditions of greater stability and better protection, gradually reducing following a stubborn flexibilisation of the labor market - reads the report -. The progressive aging of the population and the need to reduce the associated growing costs, in terms of pensions, health and social assistance, have been mainly addressed from an institutional point of view by raising the retirement age, contributing to the increase in employment among the cohorts. more mature but without general expansion, in a stagnant economic context, of good employment opportunities ".

In short, we have kept fathers and mothers in offices and companies longer without creating new spaces for the sons and daughters, resulting in a paradoxical result: a significant reduction in the younger segment of the workforce. The numbers don't lie: the employment rate of young people between 15 and 24 years of age has dramatically contracted in over fifteen years, going from 25.7% in 2005 to 16.8% in 2020 (from 74.5% in 2005 to 66.9% in 2020 in the age group between 30 and 34 years) while that of workers between 55 and 64 years of age rose by more than 23 percentage points, from 31.4% in 2005 to 54.2% in 2019. A piece of the responsibility also lies in the shortcomings of professional training, which fails to bridge the "mismatch" with the needs and demands of the productive sectors, and of the non-existence of active labor policies, as demonstrated by the resounding failure of Anpal led by Domenico Parisi, the Italian-American manager of 5 Stars fired by the agency last year without leaving any trace with its "navigators".

"The qualitative surveys of the operators of the community centers of Oxfam and the Waldensian Diaconia on the ineffectiveness of the centers for the employment in ensuring the entry into the labor market of its younger users is confirmed by the data from Istat sources - continues the document -. The job placement of the majority of young Italians now passes through informal channels, that is, by exploiting family networks. In the European comparison, the new generations in Italy have a smaller numerical consistency, are less trained, less valued by the production system, and more dependent on families or public welfare ”.

Difficult to detach yourself from the nursery Besides the "neets", the report also indicates the long stay of the youngest in the family of origin, an aspect obviously connected to the fact of not working, not training and not being involved in other initiatives . If over two decades ago coexistence with parents was motivated by a free personal choice of young people, today the reasons are more related to housing and employment difficulties, as evidenced by the Youth Report 2021 by the Toniolo Institute, and to the contextual protective function of the family of origin. Surprisingly, those who suffer and risk the most are young adults between the ages of 30 and 34, "who suffer prolonged periods of unemployment and have a difficult economic situation in the phase of full entry into adult life". This segment of "neet" is the most dissatisfied with his life and is more willing to accept any job immediately, exposing himself to the risk of work irregularities or exploitation. Thus feeding in some ways another vicious circle, albeit obviously in contingent necessity. While, paradoxically, those who are trained do not find adequate and sufficient employment offers.

An alarm bell is in fact the dimension assumed by the phenomenon of youth over-education: in mid-2020 over one in three young people, among 25 and 34 years of age, he carried out a professional activity that required a qualification lower than that possessed. These are prospects that push more and more young people - at least 112 thousand graduates in the decade 2010-2019 - to leave Italy in search of better opportunities and above all compromise the development trajectory of the country, which thus loses the most precious resources for the present and the future. of which, among other things, he paid for the training.

How do you get out? According to Alessandro Rosina, full professor of demography and social statistics at the Catholic University of Milan and scientific coordinator of the Youth Observatory of the Toniolo Institute who intervened in the report, it is necessary to "train young people better, promote suitable entry channels for the world of work (vocational orientation, training and work), guaranteeing them decent unemployment benefits in periods of leaving the labor market with an accompanying return path, requalification programs, implementing adequate housing policies (support for rents and the purchase of a first home , social housing) that allow, inter alia, young people to start a cycle of wealth accumulation: these are the policies that would be needed and on which our country is structurally lacking ".

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