Delayed entry and the utilization of higher education in Italian youth labour markets: evolution and involution
The article analyses the relation in Italy between education and labour status of highly educated people aged 20-29 over the years 1993-2009. A special labour market entry problem for young Italian graduates – it is argued – stands out in this long period. The article investigates and stresses a series of facts underlying the labour performance of young Italian graduates: the failure (at least so far) of the reform of the higher education system at the end of 1990s to accelerate the entry of young graduates into the labour market with the introduction of three-year degrees aimed at shortening university courses for a vast majority of students; the special difficulty in matching the demand for and supply of labour for graduates aged 20-24; the poor labour performances of first-level graduates aged 25-29 compared with that of second-level graduates and long programme diploma holders; the progress in the educational attainment of women and the consequent evolution in female labour status; and the enormous regional differences underlying the national data. Policy interventions to mitigate, if not eliminate, the special entry problem of first-level graduates – simplifying the organization of the two degree levels and removing restrictions on access to a range of professions, especially in the public sector – are required.
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