Bamboccioni, “choosy” and brain drain: what’s the real situation in Italy?

Who knows what inspired the Italian politicians who decided to call young people names, however, one thing is sure: the employment situation in Italy is not one of the best in Europe, and this makes many people decide to leave their home country looking for a better opportunity or a better future.

To analyze this phenomenon in a closer way, a survey has been made among students and young Italian workers who are still living in Italy, many because of their studies, others because they were lucky enough to find a job. Moreover, many articles have been written on such matter, because the so-called brain drain is one of the biggest issues of Italy nowadays, when the new government is trying to change the labor policies, as well as the economic ones, in order to help Italy against this wavy sea that is making it sink.

But what do Italians think about all this? The survey answers speak very clearly, and they are the results of what runs into the mind of individuals in the age range of 18-29. 
Most of the people that took part to the survey are university students, some of them at Bachelor’s level, some are doing or just finished their Master’s degree. A small percentage is not continuing their studies and is working or looking for a job.
Not every student took part to a study abroad program, some has never lived or worked in another country, but the almost complete amount of answers to the question “Have you ever thought about going abroad after your studies?” was “Yes”.
Why people really want to go?
The answer to the question “What do you think about the current situation in Italy?” was similar for every single person. “The situation is critic, the country does not employ any money to promote occupation and training for young graduates, there is too much tax evasion, too much black market, corruption, nepotism. The country is not moving, it seems like it is paralyzed in this situation. Nobody does anything to make this change.”

Italy has been facing a lot of issues in the recent years, most of them concerning economy, services, and of course, labor. One cannot say that the main problem is the crisis, according to some economists. In fact, if it was only an economic matter, the solution was simple then: reducing the cost of labor, creating new jobs… the list could go on. What happens in Italy is more complex than this, it is a system-related problem. Something is wrong here. Something has to be fixed. And we are not talking about the public debt.
Most of the jobs that young Italians find are temporary jobs, and if they are not, they end up being so because the company might close later or decide to fire some employees due to a high cost of labor. Precariousness is what matters nowadays, even if most of the politicians in Rome prefer to think this is because of the laziness of the new generations of workers instead of admitting that they are doing something wrong.
Okay, Italian people are not easy to manage, but calling people “choosy” or “bamboccione” or other names does not facilitate things. Indeed, things get much worse. In 2007, according to the Economy and Finance minister Padoa Schioppa, Italians were accused of being “bamboccioni” because they would still live with their parents in their 30s; the minister for Public Administration Brunetta described Italy as “worse” because of the precariousness in 2011; 2012 was the turn of “sfigati” (losers), said by the Deputy Minister for Labor and Welfare Michel Martone, because people tend to postpone their graduation and “they persist in searching for a permanent occupation which is pretty ‘humdrum’ ” (according to the Prime Minister Monti in 2012). Last but not least, Italians were considered “choosy” because they would be picky in choosing their first job.
Is it convenient not to be “choosy” and accept any job offered to enter the labor market and then “que sera, sera“?

According to a researcher in Political Economy, one should not be ashamed of being “choosy”, like the former minister for Labor and Social Policies suggested in 2012, because “the way someone enters the Labor Market affects the professional career, especially when it comes to the work experience, the possibilities to change their placement in the market, as well as the inventory of the social security contributions. […] It is not true that working as a waiter because there are not job offers for graduate students will help finding a graduate job later.” However, finding a graduate job in Italy is one of the hardest challenges that most students face once they gain their Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. One of the main issues is that Italy is made by small- and medium-sized enterprises which are most of the time family-run. Many of them will never hire a honors student for their managerial division, because it might oppose with the family interests in putting their successor at the head of the company. Not to forget that Italy is one of the countries where nepotism is still preferred than merit, in fact  “The family background in Italy continues to affect people even after the completion of their studies, from the salary and occupational opportunities points of view. If you are a university graduate and ‘son of’, you have more chances to find a better job with a higher wage. How this phenomenon happens? Among the various factors which define it, the relevant matter is that if you come from a better socio-economic context, you are not obliged to accept the first job that you have been offered. On the other hand, if you come from a unfavorable context, you are by nature obliged to accept the first offer that has been proposed. This really amplifies the matters listed above.”
A clear example is the Region of Campania, where, according to a recent article, only family members were hired for the new positions available.

Another point in question is education. Schools do not offer much practice and the offer of internships is very poor, moreover, most internships are unpaid. The country does not invest on education and research as much as many other nations, and most of Italian honors students rather move than do research or work in a undeveloped environment with a starvation pay. In addition to this, most employers look for job experience when hiring new potential employees, which can be a problem for graduates who recently finished their studies. Very few companies offer training courses for new employees, so how can they enter the Labor Market if neither universities nor enterprises provide some kind of professional training?

Most of the Italians who are already living abroad are very satisfied with their choice. They found a better occupation, the salaries in other countries are the double or the triple than what someone with the same task earns in Italy, and researchers enjoy better structures, a salary (because in Italy it is not always taken for granted) and more opportunities for their further studies. The European integration, which permitted the free movement policy in the EU, contributed to this “modern” migration of workers, who reach countries like Germany, the UK and France because they offer higher salaries and better occupation opportunities.
The élite of graduates is the one that leaves the country, those with higher marks and good command of foreign languages, but not only: a great number of people who never attended university but still cover a specific professional role (ice cream makers, pizza makers, masons and other manufacturers) leave without even knowing a language fluently, because they have great opportunities to start their own business or find a job easily in the markets of countries where the occupational demand is high.

Many wish to come back to their country once they earned some money and gained experience, as many answers in the survey can prove, because not all young people are strong enough to leave everything to their past and build a new life away from the place they have always called home. However, it is also true that returning after a while can be difficult if the situation does not change. Many new surgeons and physicians left Italy to work or do research in countries like Canada and the UK. They wish they could work the same way in their home country, but it is clearly impossible due to the lack of investments to research, especially in the medical and scientific field.

Is there a way to solve all this? “The problem is not single, there are many things to do”. “We should start by changing the Italian mentality”. “Italy should give more importance to our (young people) needs”. “People working in Rome (in the government buildings*) should start doing something to promote our education and training as well as our occupational opportunities by creating “real” policies. We should be able to make a good comparison with Europe”. “The fiscal pressure on enterprises should decrease, meritocracy must increase”. “Tax evasion should be extremely discouraged, hiring must become more convenient than firing and the ‘Made in Italy’ should be promoted”. “Italy should have more faith in its young citizens, instead of calling them ‘choosy’, and change the way they are exploited in those unpaid internships”. “Take inspiration from the northern European countries”. “Standing up and operate, instead of complaining all the time”. 
These are the opinions of the survey takers, as well as those of many other Italians.

“We love our country, and we do not like to see it struggle. Something has to be done, but in the meanwhile we look for a better place to stay.”


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