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Three young Italian people out of ten plan to work and live abroad

Where does the future lie for young Italian people? Abroad, answer three young people out of ten, determined to leave Italy in order to find better work and life conditions. And what motivates them is the search for a fulfilling career, real financial independence and, in the case of young women, a real chance to overcome the gender gap, which in Italy still has a great impact on income and career opportunities.

This is data included in the 2021 Report by the Visentini Foundation/LUISS, presented a few days ago in Rome (IlSole24Ore, 10 March), proof that the “brain drain” migration is increasing year after year. According to data from the Migrantes Foundation’s Italians in the world Report, in 2019, just before the pandemic, over 50,000 young people (aged 15-34 years) left the country, while the total for the 2009-2018 period amounted to 250,000, as stated by the 2019 Annual Report on the economy of immigration by the Leone Moressa Foundation; and to 300,000, indicates the Italian association Unione europea delle cooperative (using 2019 ISTAT data that includes students, as well as workers, located abroad) with a 33% rise over the past five years. An astonishing loss of human and social capital, if we consider that, in general, the individuals who leave are also the most entrepreneurial, ambitious and determined ones, driven by a strong attitude for innovation and a taste for discovery.

The cost of this loss? It’s rather plain to see – for instance, figures by the Altagamma Foundation reveal that “the Made in Italy industry is head-hunting 346,000 talents” (IlSole24Ore, 9 March). Indeed, the manufacturing industry related to the high-quality fashion, design, furnishing, shipyard, automotive and food sectors is struggling to find the adequately skilled and technically trained staff it requires (with vacant roles amounting to 40% and 50% respectively). And, in broader terms, 40% of available positions in the industry and services sectors continue to remain vacant (Unioncamere-ANPAL Excelsior Survey, IlSole24Ore, 22 February, as previously mentioned in our blog post from 8 March). Hence, considering the above-mentioned growing “brain drain” migration, the future can only get worse.

Nevertheless, let’s have a better look at the data provided by the Visentini Foundation, in order to try and understand the underlying causes for this migratory trend. This survey was carried out in spring 2021 and included over 3,000 high school girls and boys from all over Italy, with the aim of identifying their aspirations and concerns. In first place, we find “a satisfying career”, followed by “financial independence”, “family well-being”, “difficulties in climbing the ladder”, “environmental decline”, and “physical and mental health”. To fulfil their goals, 29% of these young people are willing to go abroad and 80% feel “hopeful” about the future, though much less so if their future means remaining in Italy – a considerable prod to those in power to invest more in education – and not just in formal education but in lifelong learning opportunities, too, which are key to personal development, professional success and well-being.

Following the EU Next Generation Recovery Plan’s indications, the PNRR (Italian recovery and resilience plan), aims to precisely address these needs, though the whole issue remains an open challenge and, for the younger generation, an insubstantial list of good intentions. Over the past two years, the pandemic has slowed down life and economy and now, in the middle of the recovery, the damage caused by the Russian invasion and the war in Ukraine are exacerbating the overall difficulties experienced by young people, undermining confidence and trust.

Yet, what does the data say, more in general, about the Italian migration to other European and international countries? The last edition of the 2021 Migrantes Report can help us better understand this phenomenon, as, to begin with, it shows how “over the past year, the AIRE (Italians resident abroad) population has increased by 3% – a figure that becomes 6.9% in 2019, 13.6% over the past five years, and 82% since 2006, the first year the Italians in the World Report was published. The gender difference has now almost disappeared, with women making up 48.1% of the Italian population abroad – “This is a phenomenon,” says the Migrantes Report, “that includes an increasing number of women, but also of families. In fact, nowadays, many women leave to pursue personal and professional fulfilment, and the same happens with a lot of households – married and unmarried – with children. According to data by the Ministry of the Interior’s Central Office of Statistics, updated at the beginning of 2020, out of almost 5.5 million of Italian people residing abroad, 3,223,486 are families.”

To better understand what’s happening in terms of Italian mobility, the Migrantes Report mentions a series of figures: +76.8% minors; about +179% Italian citizens aged 19 to 40 years registered with AIRE; +158.1% children born abroad from AIRE citizens; +128.6% foreign citizenships acquired; and +42.7% expatriations officially registered: “This is a population that, overall, is getting younger as it grows; yet, while in the US population is increasing through people acquiring American citizenship, especially in the south, Europe is actually experiencing a new migratory season characterised by the recent surge in the number of expatriations and children born from citizens residing abroad.”

As of 1 January 2021, the AIRE community comprises 5,652,080 units, amounting to 9.5% of the over 59.2 million Italian citizens residing in Italy. Out of these, 45.5% are aged 18 to 49 years (over 2.5 million), 15% are minors (about 848,000, of which 6.8% are younger than 10 years old) and 20.3% are over 65 years old (over 1.1 million, of which 10.7% – about 600,000 – are over 75 years old); 53.0% have been residing abroad for less than 15 years and 47.0% for more than 15 years.

Sicily is the region with the largest community of residents abroad (over 798,000), followed by Lombardy (561,000), Campania (almost 531,000), Lazio (almost 489,000), Veneto (479,000) and Calabria (430,000). The largest AIRE communities can be found in Argentina (884,187 – 15.6% of the total), Germany and Switzerland, followed by Brazil, France, the UK and the US.

The Migrantes Report states: “For a little over ten years, Italy has been experiencing a new migratory season, but the consequences of this trend have fully become obvious only in the past five years, with Italy going down a dangerous, slippery, one-way path characterised by a decrease in population, where the number of people returning to Italy does not match the number of those leaving the country. Moreover, the latter comprising mostly young people in the prime of their life and professional creativity, we need to focus our attention and activities on this portion of the population.”

And thus, we circle back to good politics – employment, training and education, income, life quality are all goals to be achieved, so as not to obliterate future opportunities and lose an entire generation.

(photo Getty Images)

Where does the future lie for young Italian people? Abroad, answer three young people out of ten, determined to leave Italy in order to find better work and life conditions. And what motivates them is the search for a fulfilling career, real financial independence and, in the case of young women, a real chance to overcome the gender gap, which in Italy still has a great impact on income and career opportunities.

This is data included in the 2021 Report by the Visentini Foundation/LUISS, presented a few days ago in Rome (IlSole24Ore, 10 March), proof that the “brain drain” migration is increasing year after year. According to data from the Migrantes Foundation’s Italians in the world Report, in 2019, just before the pandemic, over 50,000 young people (aged 15-34 years) left the country, while the total for the 2009-2018 period amounted to 250,000, as stated by the 2019 Annual Report on the economy of immigration by the Leone Moressa Foundation; and to 300,000, indicates the Italian association Unione europea delle cooperative (using 2019 ISTAT data that includes students, as well as workers, located abroad) with a 33% rise over the past five years. An astonishing loss of human and social capital, if we consider that, in general, the individuals who leave are also the most entrepreneurial, ambitious and determined ones, driven by a strong attitude for innovation and a taste for discovery.

The cost of this loss? It’s rather plain to see – for instance, figures by the Altagamma Foundation reveal that “the Made in Italy industry is head-hunting 346,000 talents” (IlSole24Ore, 9 March). Indeed, the manufacturing industry related to the high-quality fashion, design, furnishing, shipyard, automotive and food sectors is struggling to find the adequately skilled and technically trained staff it requires (with vacant roles amounting to 40% and 50% respectively). And, in broader terms, 40% of available positions in the industry and services sectors continue to remain vacant (Unioncamere-ANPAL Excelsior Survey, IlSole24Ore, 22 February, as previously mentioned in our blog post from 8 March). Hence, considering the above-mentioned growing “brain drain” migration, the future can only get worse.

Nevertheless, let’s have a better look at the data provided by the Visentini Foundation, in order to try and understand the underlying causes for this migratory trend. This survey was carried out in spring 2021 and included over 3,000 high school girls and boys from all over Italy, with the aim of identifying their aspirations and concerns. In first place, we find “a satisfying career”, followed by “financial independence”, “family well-being”, “difficulties in climbing the ladder”, “environmental decline”, and “physical and mental health”. To fulfil their goals, 29% of these young people are willing to go abroad and 80% feel “hopeful” about the future, though much less so if their future means remaining in Italy – a considerable prod to those in power to invest more in education – and not just in formal education but in lifelong learning opportunities, too, which are key to personal development, professional success and well-being.

Following the EU Next Generation Recovery Plan’s indications, the PNRR (Italian recovery and resilience plan), aims to precisely address these needs, though the whole issue remains an open challenge and, for the younger generation, an insubstantial list of good intentions. Over the past two years, the pandemic has slowed down life and economy and now, in the middle of the recovery, the damage caused by the Russian invasion and the war in Ukraine are exacerbating the overall difficulties experienced by young people, undermining confidence and trust.

Yet, what does the data say, more in general, about the Italian migration to other European and international countries? The last edition of the 2021 Migrantes Report can help us better understand this phenomenon, as, to begin with, it shows how “over the past year, the AIRE (Italians resident abroad) population has increased by 3% – a figure that becomes 6.9% in 2019, 13.6% over the past five years, and 82% since 2006, the first year the Italians in the World Report was published. The gender difference has now almost disappeared, with women making up 48.1% of the Italian population abroad – “This is a phenomenon,” says the Migrantes Report, “that includes an increasing number of women, but also of families. In fact, nowadays, many women leave to pursue personal and professional fulfilment, and the same happens with a lot of households – married and unmarried – with children. According to data by the Ministry of the Interior’s Central Office of Statistics, updated at the beginning of 2020, out of almost 5.5 million of Italian people residing abroad, 3,223,486 are families.”

To better understand what’s happening in terms of Italian mobility, the Migrantes Report mentions a series of figures: +76.8% minors; about +179% Italian citizens aged 19 to 40 years registered with AIRE; +158.1% children born abroad from AIRE citizens; +128.6% foreign citizenships acquired; and +42.7% expatriations officially registered: “This is a population that, overall, is getting younger as it grows; yet, while in the US population is increasing through people acquiring American citizenship, especially in the south, Europe is actually experiencing a new migratory season characterised by the recent surge in the number of expatriations and children born from citizens residing abroad.”

As of 1 January 2021, the AIRE community comprises 5,652,080 units, amounting to 9.5% of the over 59.2 million Italian citizens residing in Italy. Out of these, 45.5% are aged 18 to 49 years (over 2.5 million), 15% are minors (about 848,000, of which 6.8% are younger than 10 years old) and 20.3% are over 65 years old (over 1.1 million, of which 10.7% – about 600,000 – are over 75 years old); 53.0% have been residing abroad for less than 15 years and 47.0% for more than 15 years.

Sicily is the region with the largest community of residents abroad (over 798,000), followed by Lombardy (561,000), Campania (almost 531,000), Lazio (almost 489,000), Veneto (479,000) and Calabria (430,000). The largest AIRE communities can be found in Argentina (884,187 – 15.6% of the total), Germany and Switzerland, followed by Brazil, France, the UK and the US.

The Migrantes Report states: “For a little over ten years, Italy has been experiencing a new migratory season, but the consequences of this trend have fully become obvious only in the past five years, with Italy going down a dangerous, slippery, one-way path characterised by a decrease in population, where the number of people returning to Italy does not match the number of those leaving the country. Moreover, the latter comprising mostly young people in the prime of their life and professional creativity, we need to focus our attention and activities on this portion of the population.”

And thus, we circle back to good politics – employment, training and education, income, life quality are all goals to be achieved, so as not to obliterate future opportunities and lose an entire generation.

(photo Getty Images)