Rome

Italy needs 'pact between generations,' says Napolitano

Jobless rates among young Italians alarmingly high

Italy needs 'pact between generations,' says Napolitano

Rome, December 4 - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Tuesday called for a new "pact between generations" to help young people struggling to find career opportunities. The jobless rate among 15-to-24-year-olds in October was 36.5%, the highest since monthly records began in January 2004 and quarterly records started in the fourth quarter of 1992, Istat said last week. The national statistics agency said some 639,000 15-to-24-year-olds are looking for jobs. Earlier this year Istat said one in five Italians between the ages of 15 and 29 was Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET), according to its calculations for 2010. Young people are suffering the effects of the sluggish economic growth Italy has experienced over the last decade. Furthermore, some experts say Italy's labour regulations, which give high levels of protection for people with regular full-time jobs, who tend to be older, discourage firms from taking on new staff and make it difficult for young people to enter the labour market. Many young Italian who do have jobs work under temporary or freelance contracts that offer low levels of job security. The difficult economic climate and high housing costs forces many young Italians to live with their parents until their 30s and 40s because they cannot afford to leave home. There concerns about how many young people will have a pension at the end of the careers too as these so-called 'precarious' contracts often feature low levels of social security contributions. At the other end of the system, the fact that Italians are living longer means retirees are taking money out of the state's pension funds for longer and longer. "A great challenge is to find the solidarity to overcome vested interests and selfishness via a pact between generations that leads to a sustainable model of development for the construction of a more just, more cohesive and more inclusive society," Napolitano said. Premier Mario Monti said last month that his emergency government is now focusing increasingly on helping young people. "The government's activity in this time of serious difficulty, which has not yet been overcome but is being overcome, is directed towards young people," Monti said at the inauguration of the academic year at Milan's Bocconi University, where he used to teach. Monti's government moved to make the pension system more sustainable last year when it raised the retirement age, taking it up from 60 to 62 for women and from 65 to 66 for men. It has also introduced controversial labour-market reforms that will make it easier for firms to fire workers, a move it claims will also make them more inclined to hire people.

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