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OECD Economic Surveys: Italy 2017

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Italy is recovering from a deep and long recession. Structural reforms, accommodative monetary and fiscal conditions, and low commodity prices have helped the economy to turn the corner. The Jobs Act, part of a wide and ambitious structural reform programme, and social security contribution exemptions have improved the labour market and raised employment. Yet, the recovery remains weak and productivity continues to decline. Returning the banking system to health will be crucial to revive growth and private investment. More investment in infrastructure will be essential to raise productivity. The government has made significant progress on tackling structural impediments to growth and productivity. Yet public-administration inefficiencies, slow judicial processes, poorly designed regulation and weak competition still make it difficult to do business in Italy. Labour and capital resources are trapped in low-productivity firms, which hold down wages and well-being. Innovative start-ups and SMEs continue to suffer from difficult access to bank and equity finance. Literacy scores are low and job-skill mismatch is one of the highest among OECD countries, depressing earnings and well-being. Many workers are under-skilled in the jobs they hold, highlighting mismatches between workers skills and those required by employers. Improving the education system and labour market policies are crucial to raising real wages, job satisfaction and living standards. The Jobs Act and the Good School reform go in the right direction and need to be fully implemented.

SPECIAL FEATURES: RAISING INVESTMENT; ENHANCING SKILLS

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Enhancing employability and skills to meet labour market needs

The various deficiencies of the labour market and the educational system have resulted in high unemployment, low labour force participation, low skills levels and high skill mismatch. Job creation is key to tackling the high unemployment rates, especially for the young and long-term unemployed. Promoting jobs without paying attention to their quality and to the skills required by employers may have adverse impact on welfare and productivity. The Jobs Act and Good School (Buona Scuola), two major reforms of the labour market and the educational system, are good steps in the right direction. The Jobs Act and the temporary social security contribution exemptions have contributed to raise employment. By strengthening job search and training policies, the Jobs Act can enhance jobseekers’ employability. Increasing the effectiveness of public employment services, given the low spending level, remains a challenge. The Good School reform has the potential to improve school outcomes and provide more aligned skills to the job market. Increasing employability by upgrading skills that match employer needs remains a priority. Business involvement in education and training institutions at all educational levels will be paramount to ensure the provision of relevant skills, the availability of traineeship and apprenticeship places and provide on-the-job training. The adaptability of skills could be encouraged by lowering barriers to labour mobility and boosting work-based learning.

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