Rome, June 12 - Italy's labor unions must do more to help solve the "the dramatic plunge of youth employment", President Giorgio Napolitano said Wednesday. In a message to the CISL union, Napolitano said unions have an obligation to protect rights and the dignity of work and workers - including the young. Italy's unemployment rate among people aged 15 to 24 has climbed to a record high of almost 42% in the first quarter of this year. The "challenge" facing unions is to help identify innovative ways of bringing youth into the workplace, said Napolitano, in his message to CISL's Secretary-General Raffaele Bonanni. Increased youth employment will raise the "productivity and competitiveness of the Italian economy," he added. The president called on CISL "to make its own contribution to overcoming acute emergencies...building a solid foundation for an Italy that is more just, open and socially cohesive".