“Build the country’s future with young people”

Dear President Draghi, dear ministers,
the new government represents a great hope for us young people. At this historic moment, we have a unique opportunity to put the reins of their future back in the hands of the new generations and restart our country following a radically different direction. Since the speech at the Rimini Meeting, President Draghi’s clear desire has emerged to overcome the short-term time horizon that has characterized the political class in recent decades, and to focus on investing in us young people as a crucial sector for the growth.

Young people often forgotten by an irresponsible politics, made up of tactics, personalities and empty promises of change. A policy that has closed its eyes to the hundreds of thousands of our peers who have lost years without working or studying or who have had to emigrate in search of decent work or a university system that would enhance them. Indeed, we have rarely been considered key stakeholders in Italy.

Equally rarely, the political agenda has had sustainable development as a priority, in compliance with the principle of intergenerational equity. The result is that our generation feels disheartened, does not believe in politics and in the party system, does not see a dignified future full of opportunities in their country, and finds themselves without effective mechanisms to influence and change Italy.

One year after the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in Italy, it is clear how we paid the highest price of this crisis: 100 billion of new debt, 7 months of closed schools, youth unemployment rose to 30% ( compared to 18.5% recorded in the euro area) due to too many precarious contracts not protected by the blocking of layoffs.

A price paid in an already dramatic context. Well before the pandemic, investments and opportunities for a young Italian were much lower than those of a European peer. We have estimated, through an analysis of OECD data on public spending, that 320 thousand euros are invested in Italy in the first 25 years of a young person’s life, much less than the 440 thousand in France and 540 thousand in Germany. A difference that amounts to 85 billion, resources that we lack every year and which translate into a worrying rate of school dropout, in Italy equal to 13.5%, and in the number of Neet (young people who do not study and do not work) anymore high of Europe. It is therefore no wonder that our country is helplessly witnessing the phenomenon of young people on the run which, according to estimates, consists in an annual loss of about 300,000 young people and at least 10 billion in investments made in their training.

It is in the face of this dramatic picture that we are writing to you, as a new government, to ask for a real change of course. Starting from the Next generation Eu, a historic opportunity to finally relaunch our country and look to the future, but going even further: we need a change that urgently crosses all sectors of our economy and society, empowering and making the new generations protagonists, that is, we young people.

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This change of course should begin with a confrontation between your government and the proposals of young people that have emerged in recent months, which have so far remained unheard, on how to use the resources of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRP). Resources borrowed from future generations, who will be called upon to bear them, and on whose investment the future well-being of the whole society will depend.

The proposals are many. Starting with the #UnoNonBasta campaign promoted by us, Officine Italia, and Visionary Days, which in two months collected 100,000 signatures and which asks to allocate at least 10% of the PNRR funds to young people, focusing on orientation, active employment policies and training . The Fridays for Future, whose manifestations were abruptly interrupted by the pandemic, presented seven proposals for a Pnrr more attentive and sensitive to the ecological transition and the environment. Similarly, the National Youth Council (CNG) worked on a National Youth Plan 2021, bringing ideas and proposals from young people to the technical tables and to the parliamentary committees involved in the drafting of the NRP. Or again, last July the Youth Network 2021 was born, made up of 90 Italian youth associations and movements, which in September delivered a plan of concrete proposals and actions to the government, the Youth Plan 2021, in view of the Budget law, focusing on on the essential issues to improve the future of the new generations: sustainability, inclusion and innovation. These are some examples of the many initiatives of youth activism born “from below” to respond to a crisis that has been going on for decades and that has been accentuated exponentially by Covid-19. These movements are proof of how we young people, disillusioned with “traditional” politics, have not, however, abandoned the desire to contribute concretely to the future of the country, creating new spaces and channels for dialogue to actively participate in political life. Channels that, however, have not found real points of listening and confrontation with government forces.
But for a real change of direction, policies that look at young people will not be enough. Responsible politics will not be enough, abandoning the disagreements, rhetoric and tactics we have witnessed in recent decades.

What our country needs is a cultural change, which puts young people back at the center of working and political life, in short, at the center of society as a whole. Only in this way can we restore trust and hope to an entire disillusioned generation, which feels deprived of its future and without which there will be no future. We are here, ready to participate in the working tables, starting with the Next generation Eu, and ready to define with you these new long-term collaboration mechanisms to design everyone’s future together. Only in this way will we be able to become actors, or rather, “builders” (to quote the words of the head of state Sergio Mattarella) of our future.

* Network of associations for the economic and social challenges of the country

Source: L'Espresso – News, inchieste e approfondimenti Espresso by espresso.repubblica.it.

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