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'One in five young people don't work or study'

Worst figure in European Union

19 January, 13:50
'One in five young people don't work or study' (ANSA) - Rome, January 19 - More than one in five young Italians neither work nor study, the worst figure in the European Union, national statistic agency Istat said Wednesday.

Istat, on the basis of 2009 data, said 21.2% of Italians between the ages of 15 and 29, or some two million people, "are neither part of a school or training system or engaged in work".

Sociologists have spoken of a "lost generation" of Italian young people, for whom Italian President Giorgio Napolitano made an appeal in his end-of-year TV speech to the nation. Last year Italy was roiled by protests by young people, mostly against education cuts, and Rome saw its worst street violence in decades on a day of mayhem in mid-December.

Some saw the violence as an expression of malaise created by the scarcity of opportunities for young people.

In response to Napolitano's call, Premier Silvio Berlusconi said helping the young people of the country would be one of the top priorities for his government.

Asked if Italy could "become a country for the young again," the premier replied: "Absolutely, yes".

But analysts say the government is effectively stalled as the premier struggles to firm up a working majority and respond to the latest in a string of sex scandals, this time involving an underage Moroccan belly dancer and several young women Berlusconi allegedly housed for free and paid to attend alleged sex parties.