'Crisis has hit young Italians hardest': Kyenge

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Italy's integration minister and delegate for youth policies, Cecile Kyenge. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
16:29 CET+01:00
Cecile Kyenge, Italy’s integration minister and delegate for youth policies, told The Local on Tuesday that young Italians have been the worst affected by the country's harsh economic crisis and that preparing them for the workforce, whether in Italy or abroad, was "crucial" for their development.

Kyenge was speaking after an event held in Rome by the National Agency for Youth (ANG) to promote Italy’s involvement in Erasmus+, an expansion of the EU’s flagship educational exchange scheme which came into force on January 1st.

Against a backdrop of soaring youth unemployment across much of the Eurozone, the European Parliament last year agreed a €16 billion investment, to be spread over the next six years, to expand the Erasmus scheme to incorporate training, education, youth and sport initiatives.

Kyenge said the scheme, which is open to those between the ages of 13 and 30, would not only equip young Italians with skills essential for the workforce, but would also give them the opportunity to broaden their horizons in other markets.

“It’s a platform for them to be able to develop competencies and will give our young people access to another world of work,” she said.

Jobless rates in Italy have reached a record high of 12.7 percent and unemployment among 15- to 24-year-olds stands at 41.6 percent.

Kyenge added that young people have “suffered most from the crisis, and not just in terms of employment.”

She said that alongside Erasmus+, Italy has a great opportunity to get involved in another EU initiative – Youth Guarantee – designed to help young people receive a “concrete offer” of either a job, apprenticeship or traineeship within four months of leaving education or becoming unemployed.

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Young people not in employment, education or training are estimated to cost the EU €153bn a year.

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