A glimpse into Italy’s dilemma from one who chose to stay


Italy’s unemployment rate hit a new record in May with almost half the country’s young now looking for work.

Youth unemployment is approaching stratospheric levels of more than 42 per cent, the highest data ever, with a proportion of four jobless out of 10 young people.

According to data recorded by ISTAT, Italy’s National Statistics Institute, Italian overall unemployment rate hit a new record of 12.7 per cent in May.

Despite the relatively greater availability of jobs in the North, unemployment has become a huge problem throughout the country. The financial difficulties that most industries are facing have negatively impacted the lives of many ordinary Italians. Above all, many young people are unable to find a job, and are forced to keep studying for years and years, live with their parents or move abroad in pursuit of a better life. Many are forced to work for free to gain experience.

This dilemma has been depicted in a new film from Giovanni Veronesi L’Italia non è un paese per giovani, (Italy is not a country for the young), dedicated to those young people who left the country looking for a better professional life.

These are also the words commonly heard at Italian universities, on the bus, in the office at lunch break, and in cafès. The global financial crisis, unemployment and the unstable political situation are threatening the future of Italy and most of all of its future leaders who are leaving the country in droves.

Many are migrating to other countries, pushing the boundaries of Europe over Asia, South America, even Africa. More than 100,000 young Italians (under 40) have gone to live abroad since 2010, 70 per cent of them graduates and professionally skilled.

According to official data of AIRE, 27,000 leave Italy every year but unofficial estimates put the number at twice this number.

They go abroad to find a paid work but also to regain their dignity. The number of Italian graduates seeking their fortune abroad increased over the last 10 years from 11 per cent to 28 per cent. The motive is no longer a healthy desire to travel and explore the world; it is now a Brain Drain, an Italian diaspora, paid for with public funds.

Despite this many Italian institutions deny that the reason behind this migration is the lack of opportunity at home, and not globalisation that just makes travel easier.

And what about those who decide to stay?

Most of the young who remain and are prepared and willing workers force themselves to adapt and accept this situation.
Some take on unpaid internships, precarious contracts (if available) with few career prospects; others take on paid jobs they are not passionate about and would not have accepted in other circumstances.

Faith, love for our country, hope for change despite everything, hold back those who choose to stay for the sake of a better future for upcoming generations.

The new Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, former major of Florence, might also have raised the hopes of those who decided to stay. In mid-May the government passed the ‘Jobs Act’, a reform aimed at boosting the labour market by creating new positions in some specific sectors – culture, tourism, agriculture, Made in Italy, the Green economy – or by modifying some very delicate aspects of existing law such as the renewal of short-term contracts.

In the upcoming months the real scope of these first Job Act goals will become progressively clear. Unfortunately, the impression is that this reform introduces very few new amendments in comparison with previous reforms from former governments, especially for young adults and the unemployed.

Italy’s young do not just need a direction; they need clear facts in every day working life. During the global financial crisis they faced reality and adapted to the fact that long-term jobs or permanent positions are now anachronistic. But flexibility differs from volunteering for a lifetime.

We managed to re-arrange our expectations, to become adults during a world economic and social crisis. But now we want our future back, to create and sustain our future families, to raise our children where they’re meant to be. Here, in Italy.



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