In this week’s internship meeting we discussed the concept of brain drain. When I first saw this topic on the schedule I assumed it would be some topic regarding mental exhaustion. I didn’t have any particular reason for this just an assumption based on the name. I was surprised then when instead the topic was actually about the drain of talent and intellect from a country as its citizens go abroad to find work. I had heard of the concept before but coming from America I had almost an opposite perspective on the problem. Rather than being the place that people are draining out of America is, for the vast majority, where people are draining into. This means that the US receives the positive end of brain drain, instead of losing skilled individuals America is far more prone to gain large numbers of individuals from places like India and China. This is unfortunately not the situation that Italy faces. Instead, Italy is the place from which, to be colloquial, brains are drained. This means that Italy faces a shortage of intelligent laborers, which as we discussed last week are becoming and will continue to become the most important workers in the employment landscape of the future. Part of the reason for this is that Italy’s youth unemployment levels are very high. This leads to many younger individuals to leave the country to find work and not return. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that Italy, like Japan though to a lesser degree, is an aging country. This creates the problem that more and more positions will be filled by career employees who don’t want to leave jobs they are comfortable in to make room for new employees. While this is a worse problem in Italy it is not uncommon in America either. A common critique for my generation is that we just don’t want a job enough to go out and find one. This ignores the fact that given modern job-finding conditions, such as positions already being filled and higher initial employment requirements, this is not that feasible. This problem has additional complications which pertain to my internship. As you probably know my internship is at the town hall in Arezzo. One of my first experiences was a conference in Bologna where the city was seeking out professional advice for a better performance evaluation system for their senior civil service. You see in Italy senior members of the government are extremely difficult to fire. This comes about from a combination of Italian laws and the power of unions in Italian society. This difficulty is true even if a senior civil servant is performing below evaluations, a near impossibility given that many define their own objectives to be measured by. This means that the Italian government is an even more difficult position in terms of trying to attract young talent because they are unable to be rid of even the employees they would like to be let alone the ones who actually do a good job.
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