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Youth employment in Italy: finally some change

From bonuses to start-ups, something is moving. The Italian government and European leaders have confirmed their attention. Now we need to shift from talk to action

Youth employment in Italy: finally some change

Ferruccio Dardanello

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Finally, a change of course. Also thanks to the Italian government, European heads of state have taken note of the dramatic situation in youth employment, launching a signal of concrete interest in this issue that encapsulates the challenge facing Europe: how to begin growing once again. We are just at the beginning and the resources available should rise. But this will happen if we, in Italy as a country, are able to make good use of those already available and quickly. For this reason, the structure of the newly-launched mission of the Ministry of Labor is important, and we will be giving it all the support we can. Also in light of the long-awaited reorganization of job services which must reach the highest standards in Europe. A result that is possible if we are patient, giving this process the time it needs.

On a national level, the government's initiatives are a step in the right direction. Bonuses for companies that hire; unified and simplified legal structure for limited liability companies and with lower capital requirements, including advantages for innovative start-ups; and refinancing of laws on entrepreneurial initiatives through structural funds with special focus on the South of Italy and social sectors. Measures for which we have high expectations, also because for some of them, the chambers of commerce are called upon to make a contribution. Even more could be done by streamlining apprenticeships to overcome current complexities and create a system closer to that in Germany and Austria where training is also successfully managed through the chambers of commerce. However, in order to relaunch employment, companies must be relaunched. For this, we have proposed to the government to establish a system of assistance for the creation of new companies. A sort of "enterprise guarantee" comprised of coordinated services on a regional and local basis to promote innovation, access to microcredit and use of alternative sources of financing.

For too long young people have been kept waiting outside the door of the economy and society at-large. By halting social mobility, the whole country has been stopped. Young people offer an extraordinary vehicle for development and already currently represent a vital component of our economy, with a contribution to GDP of over 240 billion euros, equal to the entire manufacturing sector. A figure which involves 3.8 million young people and 675,000 companies led by people under 35. An entrepreneurial force which last year, despite the crisis, grew by 70,000 companies. Many of these firms are born within a model of sustainable growth with lower consumption levels that capitalize on local resources and green technologies. It is Italy's new development model made up of broad-based ownership, districts, supply chains and networks and which emphasizes quality over quantity. An original model which must be defended because it represents our future. For too long we have obstructed the passing lane between generations. It is time to clear it and allow those with greater horsepower to get moving.

Ferruccio Dardanello is president of Unioncamere (Italian association of chambers of commerce)

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