It still is a Country of emigrants

A snapshot of the situation in a survey by the Migrantes Foundation: many young people, and not only them, are leaving the Country in search of a job. Possible responses

There is an Italy where something is wrong, that is struggling to recover, trapped in the grips of unemployment, concealed behind over 100 thousand citizens who left the country last year. Most of them are men (56.0%), single (59.1%), between 18-34 years (35.8%), mainly from Northern Italy, choosing European countries as their preferred destination. These are the figures that emerge from the tenth “Italians in the World” Report presented in Rome on October 6 by the Migrantes Foundation (Italian Bishops’ Conference). Increasing numbers. Thus Italy has continued to be, as it was in the past, a country of emigration. About 5 million Italian citizens live abroad and, while the flows are primarily from the South, we are gradually witnessing a decrease from the South in favour of the North Italy. Sicily is the first region of departure with 713,483 Italians living abroad; by comparing data on recent years emerges a marked dynamism in the northern regions, especially Lombardy (+ 24 thousand) and Veneto (+ 15 thousand). Italy – states the Migrantes Report – is experiencing one of the longest job and economic recessions. Young people, workers, families… even the elderly are departing. Analyses of the past decade clearly highlight this escalation: the members of AIRE – Registry of Italians residing abroad – went from 3,106,251 in 2006 to 4,636,647 in 2015, representing a 49,3% increase. Youths yearn to leave. A striking element present in the report involves the number of Italian students who choose to leave for a period of study abroad. Even among graduates, the phenomenon of emigration for employment purposes has grown in recent years. Migration is motivated by the widespread belief that the best prospects for earnings and career, flexible working hours and prestige can be found abroad. The United Kingdom is the favourite destination (16.5%), France (14.5%), Germany (12%) and Switzerland (12%). But while young people leave, Italy is becoming a country for old men. Professor Alessandro Rosina, who teaches demography at the Catholic University, emphasized this as a fact. The Country is hit by low birth rates and a declining population, amounting to 250 thousand young people less each year. Moreover, two youthe groups are increasing. These are the NEET (“Not in Education, not in Employment, or Training”, “emblem of the Italian waste of human capital”) and “expats” with medium-high qualifications, highly exposed to unemployment, “good but without perspectives” who therefore ready to leave the country. Italy – according to the professor – has “the worst combination” for a country in desperate need of recovery, featuring inactive “NEETs” and discouraged “expats”, i.e., talented people leaving the Country. How can we meet this challenge? “Certainly not by stopping the outflows”, replied Rosina, but by trying to “enhance human capital by supporting the choice of those who wish to stay” and “encouraging those who want to go” with projects that “will attract not only those who have failed but especially those who have been successful, as they can return and re-circulate skills and expertise gained abroad inside in our country. Investment policies. Senator Claudio Micheloni, president of the Commission for Italians abroad at the Senate, said during the meeting: “People emigrated out of need; our State does not work”. He asked: “The migrant, is he not the mirror of our bad conscience, one who confronts us with the reality of our country that we do not like and with our missed responsibilities?”. “Last year – pointed out Monsignor Giancarlo Perego, director general of the Migrantes Foundation – 33 thousand workers moved to Italy while 101thousand Italians have relocated abroad. This means that every one foreign worker 3 Italians leave. This is the real crisis of our Country”. “Neglecting this fact means not reading our situation from the political and cultural angles, which in turn highlights the need for family, employment and educational policies that acknowledge this state of affairs”. What are the future prospect? Msgr. Perego outlined a set of options: to accompany the migrants with network-boosting associations; enlarging citizenship “at a time of increasing closures and walls ,coupled by the possibility of an interruption of the Schengen agreement”; a new understanding of human mobility because “suspicions and fears further impoverish and dehumanize the history of migration that are still blemished by suffering”.

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