Italy

In Italy the youth policy is based on several local realities, because in our country there is no institution which supports young people like a national youth council. For this reason young people are supported by national organisations which promote several opportunities for young people.

The involvement of young people in Italy in the local, national, and European arena regarding politics, sociology, and economy is a real important factor in civil society. The establishment of sections of youth organisations in the country gives an idea of the role of young people in the daily activities of the country. The high percentage of university students among youth is empowering the knowledge and the educational level of young people in the country.

Young people do not have many work opportunities after school and university. Job contracts are very flexible and then young people cannot ask banks to buy houses in spite of the Euro interest rates which are much better. In this way young people are obliged to spend a lot of years at home with their parents without a possibility to build a family or to live their lives autonomously. Young people are not involved so much in politics and all parties have a lot of members of parliament that are over 60 years old. Politics is becoming an elite affair. Fortunately young people are much more involved in associations and organisations with social and development aims.

I believe that young Italians do not travel enough. I mean backpacking, not the usual hotel organised two-week summer holiday at the beach. During my working holiday I went around the world in 1999/2000, and to my surprise I met very few Italians and Mediterranean people in general. Most of the travellers I met were from Northern Europe, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. In these countries it is very common for young people to backpack to various countries for several months, seeking work in every place to pay their way around. It is a great adventure. For me it was one of the best experiences of my life. It is so exciting and (now I believe) so important to meet people of different cultures and religions from all over the world. It really opens your mind. Too many young Italians live at home until they are 30 years old or more, and spend most probably there life in there home town. I realise that many are actually afraid or not interested in living and working temporally in another country. Instead we must get out there, learn more about our surroundings in order to understand, respect and unite. Peace.

When I think about young people in Italy, I can picture the instable work condition that we got. Once upon a time ‘work place’ used to mean stability, family care, and independence. Today it is very different. Very often we still rely on our parents even if we have a job, because of the bad employment benefits. As one of the young Italian people, I live my life, I live the present, I study at university and I do sports. But when I look at tomorrow, I just hope.

Youngsters in Italy live of course a situation which certainly is better and easier than young people in other countries, which are still on their way towards democracy and development. Youngsters in Italy have the possibility to get acquainted with what happens around them and to be actively involved in the social, political life of their own country and cities. One of the main problems is that in spite of the many opportunities which are given by EU institutions through their partnership with other EU and non-EU governments and institutions, such as youth exchanges, mobility and training courses, there are not enough promoters to stimulate a creative and massive participation of youngsters, who should on the contrary take advantage from these chances as precious steps in their life-long learning process. Non-formal education can be sometimes much more efficient and long lasting than the academic notions which are given in schools and university and can really give a strong conscience and desire to create peace and understanding in the world.

In Italy we are living a difficult period for young people as far as employment is concerned. There is also a big lack of information concerning European opportunities and this problem is very common in small cities where information does not arrive.

The Italian political situation every day leaves fewer possibilities to youngsters to be active and participative. But Italy is becoming a multicultural country and young people need more events to know deeply other cultures.

Actually, the work of cultural associations like Mediterranea is to sensibilise people to have a real vision of the world, and other situations, to have the right action-style, and mind. Italian young people have all the opportunities to study and be ready for the working world, but often the working world follows global strategies, not looking too much into the reality of each country. New generations are easier in facing different cultures and styles.

Even though for working reasons I live in Belgium, I am closer to the situation of Italian youth. Italian youth is very much involved in volunteerism in their every day life but has no help or direction from the institutions. Unfortunately our university system allows students to graduate later from university than other Europeans and this causes older students that are often still studying at the age of 28, to be unemployed. This has as consequences frustrated youth that feels left alone.

Italy is a very big country, and young people are very different between them. We have all kinds of young people. I can explain to you about those I am working with all the time. They have problems of isolation, violence, unemployment, and racism. These projects are the main topics of our work in CESIE.

Even if average living standards are still higher than those of other Mediterranean countries, poverty and marginalisation are increasing in Italy and this situation affects youth. A widely spread problem among Italian young people is the difficulty to become independent from their families. It is very hard to find a good job (youth unemployment is very high, especially in Southern Italy) and a cheap house. Therefore, an impressive percentage of youngsters live with their parents until the age of 30 and more without having the opportunity to develop their own lives. Moreover, Italy is not a country that invests a lot in education and research and a lot of young students or researchers have to leave the country in order to find good research and professional opportunities. Lack of freedom of information negatively affects young people, and we as an organisation are especially concerned about problems in video documentary production. It is very difficult for independent productions to access official channels in Italy, and also there are very little funds available for financing and distributing documentaries. Italy is also a country of relatively recent immigration (before it was a country with very high emigration), so integration is one of the new challenges, but not only for youth.

Italian young people have changed a lot in these years. What I see now is that they are getting more and more involved in political matters, NGOs, and they want to be part of the decision processes. I am sure that even the contacts with other cultures (due to immigration from the East and the Balkans, and also from Africa, especially in the South of Italy, and where I was born, in Sardinia) have urged them to face a new reality and to become active parts of a multicultural country. Young people long for more involvement at a European level; they are open to change and not closed in their own town realities. The added value of AEGEE in a country like Italy is to put young people in contact with other associations and youngsters of their age, to encourage them to work in a multicultural team.

The main problem of young people in our region is unemployment.