Giving people better opportunities to participate in the labour market improves well-being and strengthens economic growth. Better labour market and social protection policies help countries to cope with rapid population ageing by mobilising potential labour resources more fully. Many OECD countries achieved record employment levels prior to the global financial crisis, but in all countries employment rates differ markedly across population groups. High unemployment, weak labour market attachment of some groups in society, and frequently unstable, poor-quality employment reflects a range of barriers to working or moving up the jobs ladder. In many countries, the crisis has accentuated long-standing structural problems that are causing these disadvantages. It is a major challenge for policy makers in the coming years to address these problems and make OECD labour markets and, thus, OECD economies more inclusive.

Therefore, the OECD Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Committee is carrying out a set of reviews of labour market and social protection policies to encourage greater labour market participation and better employment among all groups in society with a special focus on the most disadvantaged, who face the greatest barriers and disincentives to finding good work. This includes a series of country studies, Connecting People with Jobs, which provide an assessment of how well activation policies help all groups to move into productive and rewarding jobs and a number of policy recommendations that could improve the situation.

This report on Italy is the sixth country study published in this series. It discusses how active labour market policies in Italy are performing at the national and regional level, focussing particularly on the reform of the system of public employment services initiated by the Jobs Act, the latest labour market reform introduced in 2014. The report was prepared by Anne Lauringson (OECD’s Skills and Employability Division), with input from Gianluca Scarano (University of Milan), under the supervision of Theodora Xenogiani. Statistical assistance was provided by Sylvie Cimper and editorial assistance by Lucy Hulett and Katerina Kodlova. Comments were provided by Stefano Scarpetta, Mark Keese and Kristine Langenbucher. The report benefited greatly from comments provided by the National Agency for Active Labour Market Policies and from discussions with national and regional authorities and experts during an OECD mission to Italy in early 2018. Inputs from the following experts who participated in a number of seminars organised in Rome are gratefully acknowledged: Margaret Kidd, Martine Breedveld, Nick Butler, Gordon Roberts, Claudia Thériault, Sandi Meke, Louise Seidler Johansen, Anna Møbjerg Stevnhoved and Aude Busson. The report also benefited from the information collected during the visits to local employment offices in Abruzzo, Piedmont and Campania.

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