OECD slams Italy over unskilled youth

Young Italians are low-skilled and have poor access to the labour market, while those in jobs are not encouraged to develop their careers, a new OECD report has found.

OECD slams Italy over unskilled youth
Students in Rome protest against youth unemployment and cuts to the education budget in 2011. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Italy’s school leavers fall far behind others around the world, with the bel paese coming markedly below average in the OECD Skills Outlook 2015.

The report collates data from a number of the OECD’s 34 member countries, finding that young Italians come below average in basic skills including literacy and numeracy. The most literary minds and the best mathematicians were found in Japan and Finland, the report found.

In Italy not enough is being done to develop people’s abilities, either in the classroom or in the world of work.

Those who are fortunate enough to overcome Italy’s youth unemployment rate – currently at 43.1 percent – have a poor chance of developing their career once they find a job, the report found.

Compared to the OECD average, young Italians have little opportunity to take on responsibility and develop skills such as problem solving.

The US topped the chart in the latter area, where Norway was praised for young people using co-operative skills. Finnish youth learn by doing more than anywhere else, while young employees in Japan have the greatest task discretion.

While young people in a number of northern European countries are in work or training, a high proportion of Italian youth fail to make it in the labour market and do not take up an alternative task.

A total of 26.1 percent of Italians aged 15 to 29 are NEETs (Not in Employment, Education or Training), the second-highest figure after Spain’s 26.8 percent. Comparatively, the figure is just 8.9 for the Netherlands.

Although Italy received a particularly low score in the report, the OECD said there was improvement to be made globally.

“Improving the employability of youth requires a comprehensive approach to develop the skills of all young people, integrate youth into the labour market and make an effective use of their skills at work,” the OECD said.

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‘It’s their loss’: Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

The UK is missing out by barring highly skilled Italian graduates from accessing a new work visa, Italy's universities minister said on Wednesday.

'It's their loss': Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

Universities and Research Minister Cristina Messa said she was disappointed by the UK’s decision not to allow any graduates of Italian universities access to its ‘High Potential Individual’ work permit.

“They’re losing a big slice of good graduates, who would provide as many high skills…it’s their loss,” Messa said in an interview with news agency Ansa, adding that Italy would petition the UK government to alter its list to include Italian institutions.

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“It’s a system that Britain obviously as a sovereign state can choose to implement, but we as a government can ask (them) to revise the university rankings,” she said.

The High Potential Individual visa, which launches on May 30th, is designed to bring highly skilled workers from the world’s top universities to the UK in order to compensate for its Brexit-induced labour shortage.

Successful applicants do not require a job offer to be allowed into the country but can apply for one after arriving, meaning potential employers won’t have to pay sponsorship fees.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome. Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP.

The visa is valid for two years for those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and three years for PhD holders, with the possibility of moving into “other long-term employment routes” that will allow the individual to remain in the country long-term.

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Italy isn’t the only European country to have been snubbed by the list, which features a total of 37 global universities for the 2021 graduation year (the scheme is open to students who have graduated in the past five years, with a different list for each graduation year since 2016).

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL Switzerland, Paris Sciences et Lettres, the University of Munich, and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute are the sole European inclusions in the document, which mainly privileges US universities.

Produced by the UK’s Education Ministry, the list is reportedly based on three global rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, and The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Messa said she will request that the UK consider using ‘more up-to-date indicators’, without specifying which alternative system she had in mind.