By Rebecca Cardillo

The future of young people in Italy is a burning issue at this moment in history, one that arouses concern and captures attention in the search for a solution. Today’s younger generations are living the paradox of wanting to be the pillars of our society yet at the same time being one of the most disadvantaged groups in the labour market, thus being prevented from developing today’s society into one that is eco-sustainable, egalitarian and guided by meritocracy. Despite the constant debate on the subject, and the funds allocated by the government for the cultural, economic and entrepreneurial renaissance of young Italians, the situation seems to remain static, begging the question: how is this possible? As a young woman of 22 I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders as I ask myself this question. I look to the future with fear, imagining that what I am now is what I will be forever, but hoping that I won’t be stuck in a time where I feel I don’t belong. As I strive to emerge from all this, I choose to live my life actively not bowing to duties, morals and standards imposed by society, analysing the problems around me and imagining possible solutions.

From my point of view, there are a number of issues that could be more effective in the area of growth, education and training of new generations if addressed in a different way. The changes I would implement in infant and primary schools would be to include hours dedicated to creative activities and the child’s integration into everyday adult life; I would also eliminate taxes on goods intended for the care of children and infants and include adequate state support for families (living below a certain income). In the lower secondary school years I would ensure there were hours dedicated to sex education and psychology, with the aim of making pupils more aware of their developmental journey. The changes I would reserve for the final years of secondary school are more radical. First of all, the system would be redesigned by reuniting all the different specialisations and creating a single end of school syllabus that would last four years and would include science subjects, humanities subjects including philosophy and social sciences (without neglecting the historical and cultural events of the contemporary age), sex education, an hour a week devoted to debate and information on current issues and time dedicated to introducing young people to society by giving them notions of economics and law and skills to deal with everyday life without too many surprises.

My proposals are motivated by the awkward feelings we have all faced, such as the fear of making the wrong choice at 14 and the sense of wanting to escape at 18. In this way the needs of young people would be respected and accommodated so that they would have the opportunity to think about their goals and start pursuing them when they feel ready thanks to the preparation the new system would give them. What’s more, having the same upper secondary school classes for everyone would cut the cost of school books and open up the possibility of a more digitised education, an issue we should definitely start considering. It has been shown that over time the human attention span has lowered considerably due to technology and so teaching methods should adapt to these developments by proposing new study methods based on visual activity and offering denser but shorter pieces of content. In this case the state should provide tools or funds for those who don’t possess a suitable electronic device for these activities. Among the benefits of a digitised education is, without a doubt, the eco-sustainability aspect but also the creation, or rather, replacement of the jobs of older teachers as they would necessarily have to know how to use the technology. Obviously this process should then be accompanied by an earlier retirement age and pensions that are made commensurate with the cost of living.

But what about those who are young now?

Personally, I am of the opinion that young people just need a place where they can come together and feel part of a community, a place where they can bring their ideas and projects to life. This is why I believe that every municipality should have an appropriate structure to host its young people (regulated by the number of inhabitants) that is managed through a spokesperson of young people’s choice. Therefore, in my opinion, the role of our generations in this historical period is to be a ‘machine of ideas’ aimed at realising these, while continuing a campaign of awareness-raising about our innermost fears regarding the future, thus making it possible to collaborate with the ‘older’ generations, who as a result won’t be afraid to leave the helm. These are my ideas but alone they aren’t enough; that’s why I invite everyone reading this to express their own opinions and actively engage in the realisation of their own ideas, creating communities around them.

By working together we can really change things. I’ve had my say... have you?

Rebecca Cardillo is 22 years old, born in Gaeta, a small town in the province of Latina. Cardillo studies at the UED (European University of Design) in Pescara in the Interior Design department and is determined to be part of the change our society needs.