Italy behind EU in education, reveals new Istat figures

ROME – Italy has the highest number of young people who do not work or study (NEET), and despite an improvement it remains below the EU average for those awarded a diploma or a degree, according to new figures released by the Italian National Institute for Statistics (ISTAT).

 Women are better educated than men on average, according to the new “Levels of education and work outcomes” report. But this is not reflected in wider society as the female employment rate remains below that for men.

 In 2018, the number of people aged 15 to 29 who were without work and not in education was 2 million, 116 thousand (which is 23.4 percent). The level of NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) was as low as 19.3 per cent in 2008, but after the financial crisis Italy has never managed to reach that level again. Since 2015, the number has fallen (0.7 per cent in the last year), but it remains the highest in the EU.

 The education level in Italy has improved but remains low compared to the rest of Europe. The percentage of those between 25 and 64 who hold a diploma was 61.7 per cent in 2018, which was an increase of 0.8 per cent from the year before but remained well below the European average of 78.1 per cent. It’s the same story for tertiary education: fewer than two in ten hold a degree (19.3 per cent), which is a slight improvement on the year before but remains well below the European average of 32.3 per cent.

  The European Union has a target that by next year 40 per cent of young people between 25 and 34 years old will hold a higher education degree, part of its Europe 2020 Strategy which is designed to boost growth and jobs. Some countries, like France, Spain and England long ago passed this target. Italy looks set to fail, despite an improvement in this category (up 0.9 per cent from 2017): just 27.8 per cent of 25-34 year olds currently hold a degree, which is the second lowest in the EU.

 Spain is the only other country which shows as marked an advantage for women in education levels as in Italy, where at least 63.8 per cent hold a diploma (compared to 59.7 per cent of men), and 22.1 percent hold a degree (compared to 16.5 per cent for men).