GIOVENTU » Italian students in job placement scheme protests

Italian students in job placement scheme protests

Italian students took to the streets to protest against the recently introduced job-placement schemes. The protests come after a number of demonstrations against contested school reforms named “the Good School”, passed by the previous government of Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi. There was no independent estimate of the total, but the student unions claimed 200,000 youths protested across Italy, with rallies in Rome, Naples, Milan, Salerno and other cities. It was also a protest against alleged underfunding of state schools.

The job placement scheme is a compulsory work experiences for upper secondary school students. 95% of schools - about 900,000 students – already participate in work experience schemes. Thousands of Italian school students protested nationwide over these work placements which they say doesn’t contribute to their future job prospects. Many of them reported ending up working for free in retail shops or fast food restaurants instead of having a hands-on constructive experience in a field of their interest. Italy has the EU's third-highest jobless rate of 11.2%. The feeling of discontent is also due to the lack of future perspectives for the new Italian generation. 

A group of students interviewed by ANSA declared: "Today we're being exploited and tomorrow we'll be in totally precarious employment".

"We want work placements that provide real alternative training and quality for all," said Student Network national co-ordinator Giammarco Manfreda.

Italy "continues to lack rules defining who can or cannot offer work experience", he added.

Students said they were tired of being humiliated by companies, whose work experience does not amount to training at all.

The protests, organised by student unions on social media were called “the students ‘strike”. As strange as it sounds, young people who haven’t even entered the job market have already gone on "strike" in 70 cities. 

There was some vandalism by protesters in Milan, targeting a McDonald's restaurant and a Zara clothing store, seen as symbols of capitalist exploitation. Youths also smashed a window at the Milan offices of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), then threw paint and smoke bombs into it.

The students want the government to fulfil its promise of drafting a statute defining the status of young people doing work experience and a code of ethics for companies using them.

Italian Education Minister Valeria Fedeli defended the centre-left government's education policy. As it was reported on the main newspapers, she said that internships gave students complementary skills, enabling them to face the future with more knowledge, and she pledged to address the students' complaints and work to raise the quality of internships. 

Giulia Lombardo

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