Letta vows govt will give hope to young generations
2014 budget will be a 'good start' he says18 October, 16:45
(ANSA) - Rome, October 18 - Italian Premier Enrico Letta has vowed the government will give hope to young generations of Italians currently frustrated at non-existent job prospects - but has also called on them to try to be strong and wait for the jobs he aims to help provide for them.
"We can't afford this brain drain to keep rising," Letta said.
"We need our best and brightest to stay at home - but also the millions of ordinary young kids we think we will soon be able to extend realistic and solid work opportunities to".
Letta said the 2014 budget bill, which the government has just launched on its way through parliament, would be a "good start" for job-creation efforts, since it cuts labour taxes, sets aside funds for helping small and medium-sized businesses and provides tax breaks for companies who turn short-term, precarious contracts into permanent ones.
New generations of Italians must try to stay in Italy despite record youth unemployment and give the country hope for the future, Letta said on his last speaking engagement on a trip to the United States.
"Without new generations at the helm Italy is a country without hope," said Letta, whose government has launched measures to try to stop waves of talented young people giving up on fruitless job searches and seeking work abroad during Italy's longest postwar recession.
Speaking at the prestigious Brookings Institute before flying back to Italy Thursday night, the premier, who earlier received President Barack Obama's praise for his "leadership and integrity" in addressing much-needed political and economic reforms, voiced the hope that "it is possible to have generational change in Italy." In a separate interview with the Washington Post, Letta said it was his "dream" to enable Italy to give opportunities to new generations. "We have to give opportunities to young people, that is my mission," Letta told te WP.
With young people mostly locked out of the job market except for underpaid temp contracts they often lose, there has been talk for years in Italy of a "lost generation".
Today's younger Italians enjoy far less of the job security that enabled previous generations to settle down and enter the property market.
Analysts often talk of a "war" between generations where older people in safe, long-term and virtually sack-proof employment trap younger ones who find it extremely hard to find well-paid steady jobs and leave the nest.
Cases of the "best and brightest" young Italians feeding a brain drain in fields ranging from scientific research to business and fashion regularly make headlines in Italy.
Unemployment in Italy is at a record high of over 12% and youth unemployment hit an unprecedented 40% last month.
Economists have argued that Italy's rigid labour market, which makes it almost impossible for large firms to shed workers, must be reformed to allow for youth hiring and the retraining of older workers who lose their jobs.
Lawmakers should also slash the thicket of temporary contracts that let employers string young workers along for years by tweaking their legal status or simply making sure they take regular breaks to ensure they are not obliged to take them on for good.