Plan for youth unemployment to take shape by end of June

Labour minister says goal it to lower rate by 8%

Plan for youth unemployment to take shape by end of June

Rome, May 20 - Formulating a package by the end of June to tackle the country's high youth unemployment will be a priority for the Italian government, Labour Minister Enrico Giovannini said on Monday. The goal is to reduce unemployment among the country's 15-to-24-year olds by 8%, bringing it down to 30%, the minister told the Italian daily La Repubblica in an interview. To create the package, the government will be meeting with associations and unions "to listen and think through (solutions) together," Giovannini said. The minister said that the government will invest between 10 to 12 million euros, "if not more" to "maintain" the program outlined by ex-Labour Minister Elsa Fornero, defined during the previous Mario Monti administration. Among the possibilities to ease the rampant youth unemployment is a shift for older workers from full-time to part-time leading up to retirement, without penalizing the employees' previously accumulated benefits by adding State subsidies, to make room in the market for younger workers. "Some solutions will be costly, others not," Giovannini said. Another "idea" is to make way for early retirement with "proportional penalties," Giovannini said. Former Labour Minister Fornero and Monti's technocrat government came under fire for changes in the country's retirement rules that left as many as 390,000 people out of work and bereft of their pension payments, although the labour minister hotly disputed that figure. Youth employment in Italy reached 38.4% in March, 3.2% higher than the same month in 2012, according to national statistics institute Istat.

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