Il difficile passaggio verso il lavoro dei giovani che lasciano la scuola: quali possibili politiche?
[The hard access to the labour market of youth leaving school: what policy choices?]
Youth leaving school and searching for a job suffer of work experience gap. This is very similar to the skill mismatch that occurs after a shock of demand or supply of competencies: to adequate the supply of competences to the new needs, it is necessary to modify the education and training system which takes time and money. Young people face a similar problem during their school to work transition. In fact, despite ever increasing educational attainment, they lack the other two components of human capital: generic and job-specific work experience. In order to fill this experience gap, they carry out a searching strategy by which they move among different labour market statuses in search for the best job-worker match. However, the process of transition is a complex phenomenon with strong elements of rigidity, concerning the institutions (school, training and university systems and labour agencies) and the norms and contracts regulating the labour market, uncertainty and errors of judgment. Accordingly, the search strategy takes time and is costly. Lower quality Institutions and not flexible labour markets augment the risk that youth make a mistake in their searching investment, or send wrong signals to the firms, and consequently fall permanently into a chain of high and long term unemployment, low pay, temporary or part-time work or inactivity. A comparative analysis shows that the youth condition is not the same all over the OECD countries. To help young people smooth school-to-work transitions, every country has provided a mix of policy instruments reaching different outcomes. We can sum up these instruments into two groups: policies that, considering the need of firms to minimize the labour costs, aim at introducing different degrees and types of labour market flexibility, and policies that, considering the need of new entrants to adequate their human capital , adopt programs of training and labour market active policies or reforms of their education and training system. Broadly speaking, countries with flexible labour market and relatively less expenditures in training and active policies get both low and very high levels of youth unemployment. Nevertheless, Centre-North European countries get a relatively low unemployment rate with more welfare guarantees to youth and high expenditure in training and active policies. However, there is a general consensus both in criticizing the second type of policies, since these are too expensive for the public finances, and in preferring the liberalization of the labour market. This paper is meant to analyze the case of the young graduates and the probability to be overqualified or underskilled. It gives evidence that policies to cut down the labour costs and salaries are of little scope merely aiming at an immediate saving, on the other hand, they are damaging in the long term. Conversely, investments in human capital are very important to augment the productivity growth and reduce regional differences. University and school of low quality as well as lack of instruments aiming at strengthening the link between the education system and the work experience, make permanent the qualification and skill mismatch and hinder wages from restoring the equilibrium of the labour market. In the long term, the wage gap for overqualified and underskilled has consequences on productivity growth. Considerations are made also for the Mezzogiorno case.
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