Day 7 - 3.12.2014 - 11:00 - Crisis -

GenSep Guestbook: Family nest – the chimaera of Italian youth unemployment

Guest entry by Lorenzo Sobrini

Giovanni is a 24 years old Italian, he recently lost his job as a carpenter. He couldn’t finish high school. And he is now returning back to live with his parents and does not want to think about the future. He is one of the many victims of Europe’s black beast: youth unemployment.

According to Eurostat, in Italy the youth unemployment rate (15-24 years old) averaged 27.8 percent from 1983 to 2014, reaching the peak of 43.7 percent in June 2014. Given that, the country is experiencing the fourteenth consecutive quarter of no growth.

These figures offer little hope. And bring up the question of whether Italy’s youth unemployment is exacerbated by a heap of social and cultural factors rather than just economic ones.

Italy’s great problem lies in the dysfunction of the transitional moment from education to labour market because of its inner nature as a “school-to-work transitory regime”. In fact, it often happened that the typology and skills that young people offer are different from the skills that employees need. In other words, Italian graduates have limited work as well as practical experience and a lack of language skills. A mismatch that can be explained with three words: poor basic education.

However, poor education is caused by the inadequate secondary level of teaching and by the active role that family has in the transition from childhood to adulthood. Indeed, the latter is certainly one of the main compelling problems/causes in the worsening of the situation.

Italy has a secular tradition of ‘strong family ties’: a unique tendency that prolongs the stay of young people in their parental home. This “home gilded cage” puts young Italians in a comfortable position: with freedom, absence of domestic tasks and a guaranteed economic stability. Those elements, perhaps, explain Italy’s blighted generation – youths under 30 not in employment, education or training –, a phenomenon that in 2012 amounted to 1,287,800 people.

What comes to evidence is that the awareness of being in this “golden-parental nest” does not encourage young people to leave the family-home, but instead exacerbate the problem of youth unemployment, fostering inactivity – given the comfort of the situation –, increasing the existing gap between education and work and creating a loop in which economic, social and cultural vicissitudes are stranded in a ‘univocal conundrum’.

Although Italian family’s attitude is an unusual problem, perhaps one of the most infamous causes for Italy’s highest youth unemployment rate, it can be avoided. By upgrading vocational schools, embracing apprenticeships and introducing plans for youth, as Germany and other northern countries did, there could be the possibility to reduce the gap between the work and the education systems, halting the spreading of youth unemployment and redirecting Italian youth attitudes.

At present, Italy’s reforms are feeble. Indeed, Prime Minister Renzi and his predecessors did not take into consideration the social and cultural factors, pivotal elements in order to understand the nature and weaknesses of youth unemployment.

Therefore, the black beast should be put on a leash; otherwise the future of the country could be at stake, as Italy is certainly much more than an overshadowed and dejected nation.




Lorenzo is 22 years old and graduated in International Relations and Politics. He is a freelance writer and currently working Italian Insider and Key4Biz

Find him on twitter  @LorenzoSorbini