Young Europeans continue to suffer from the effects of a prolonged unemployment crisis, which began with the onset of economic downturn in Europe in 2008. This issue has attracted the attention of media and politicians alike, driving high-level summits between heads of state and leading to important EU policy initiatives, such as the “Youth Guarantee”. Yet, Europeans between the ages of 15 and 24 still face unemployment at over twice the rate of the rest of the population. And unemployment rates in those countries most affected by the economic crisis remain stubbornly high.
Italy is a country that has suffered disproportionately from this crisis. With youth unemployment rates hovering at over 43%, talk of a “lost generation” has become commonplace. When Matteo Renzi took over the reins of power last February, it was perhaps no surprise therefore that he called for a “new phase” in Italian politics and spoke of the need to stimulate growth and fight unemployment.
Himself the youngest Prime Minister in Italian history, Renzi has made tackling youth unemployment a priority of domestic politics and, as Italy prepares to take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union in July, European policy.
Mirta Michilli is Director General of “ Fondazione Mondo Digitale ” (FMD), an Italian NGO dedicated to ensuring equal access to the learning benefits offered by innovation and new technologies. A YouthSpark ambassador, Michilli works with FMD on projects in the area of education, digital inclusion, and the development of local communities.
In a context where technology has transformed the modern workplace, Michilli and the FMD are working to tackle an increasingly pressing problem, the ever-growing gap between the digital skills possessed by young Europeans and the requirements of employers. EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes brought this problem into sharp relief in a recent speech, where she highlighted that “nearly one million ICT jobs could go unfilled” in Europe due to the lack of appropriate digital skills.
In a short video conversation with Microsoft, Michilli outlines her views on the crisis afflicting Italian and European youth and her hopes of the Renzi government.
Focusing on the crucial role that technology and digital skills play in education and as an enabler in the professional sphere, Michilli highlights the positive impact that programs such as YouthSpark can have. She emphasizes the importance for companies and governments across Europe to take example from these programs and ensure they are moving beyond rhetoric and implementing concrete action on the ground for Europe’s youth.