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Italy's skills snapshot

Italy’s top priority must be to tackle high youth unemployment by reinforcing its efforts, first, to ensure that youth leave school with the skills required by employers and, second, to remove labour market barriers preventing young people from finding rewarding and productive jobs.

Key findings

Developing the relevant skills

  • How well does Italy’s education system perform? In the 2009 PISA tests of 15-year-olds, Italy performs below the OECD average in reading (rank 29), mathematics (34) and science (rank 35).1
  • Does Italy invest enough in education and training? Italy spent 4.9% of its annual income on education in 2009, compared to the OECD average of 6.2%.2
  • How much are Italian citizens undertaking further education? In 2006, 20% of Italian citizens participated in continuing non-formal education, compared to the OECD average of 34%.3
  • How equal is access to opportunities for further training in Italy? In 2006, 51% of people aged 25-64 with a tertiary-level education participated in formal and/or non-formal education, compared with 8% for people in the same age group with below upper secondary education.4
  • Should more be done to prevent skills shortages? Despiteunemployment rising between 2007 and 2011,5 some 29% of Italy’s employers reported recruitment difficulties in 2011, compared to only 23% in 2007.6.7 This suggests that more should be done in Italy both through the education system and by employers themselves in providing training to improve the supply of skills required in the labour market.

Supplying skills

  • Is there scope to improve skill utilisation in Italy through strengthening labour force participation? In 2011, 76.9% of the people aged between 25 and 54 were in the labour force, compared to an OECD average of 81.3%.8 The participation rate for prime-age women (aged 25-54) is below the OECD average at 64.6% in 2011 (OECD average 71.2%).9
  • To what extent are Italy’s older workers supplying their skills to the labour market? In 2011, only 39.5% of people aged 55 to 64 were in the labour force, compared to an OECD average of 57.8% 10

Using skills

  • How smooth is the transition from school to work for Italy’s youth? The employment rate of Italy’s youth in 2011 was 19.4%, compared with the OECD average of 39.3%.11 In 2011, the unemployment rate of Italian youth was 29%, a relatively high rate compared with the OECD average of 16%.12 More must be done to tackle Italy’s dual labour market and to help youth gain access to rewarding and productive jobs.
  • Are the qualifications of Italy’s workers well matched with the requirements of their jobs? In 2005, 23.5% of Italy’s workers were over-qualified for their jobs (against OECD average of 25%), and 16.4% were under-qualified (against the OECD average of 22%).13 Over-qualified (under-qualified) workers are those who have a higher (lower) qualification than the most common qualification of all other workers in the same occupation

Key recommendations from the OECD Skills Strategy

A country can develop the relevant skills by encouraging and enabling people to learn throughout life; fostering international mobility of skilled people to fill skills gaps; and promoting cross-border skills policies.

A country can activate the supply of skills by encouraging people to offer their skills to the labour market and retaining skilled people in the labour market.

A country can put skills to effective use by creating a better match between people’s skills and the requirements of their job and increasing the demand for high-level skills.

For more information, see the:

OECD Policy Map on Skills | OECD Skills Strategy | Skills Strategy: Overview


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