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Prime Minister Draghi’s speech at the ‘Antonio Cuccovillo’ higher technical institute

Thursday, 28 October 2021

President of the Council of Ministers Mario Draghi’s speech at the ‘Antonio Cuccovillo’ ITS [higher technical institute] in Bari. 

[The following video is available in Italian only]

What can I say? After such a warm welcome, in this hall filled with excitement, it is somewhat difficult to remain composed. Your words have truly moved me, as indeed has the enthusiasm shown by all of the young people here. I can see that you’re good kids and, as President Emiliano would say, I can also see that you’re well prepared. They say that anyone born in Puglia is born ready, but this seems to be especially so in your case. Your extraordinary enthusiasm is palpable.

President Emiliano, Mayor Decaro, President Scattarelli, thank you for expressing your appreciation, for your very kind words. Director Vingiani, thank you.

Dear students, 
it is, of course, a great pleasure to be here with you.
First of all, I would like to thank everyone who spoke before.
Thanks to its results, your ITS [higher technical institute] has become a point of reference not only in Puglia, but also for all the establishments of its kind in Italy.
This has become one of the world's leading districts in the field of mechanical engineering, thanks also to the high-quality technical and scientific training it offers.
It represents a courageous Mezzogiorno, a cutting-edge Mezzogiorno, where significant foreign investments go hand-in-hand with small and medium-sized enterprises that want to grow, compete and innovate.

I especially wish to thank all of you students. You are setting out on a life path; a life that will open up for you and, from what I’ve heard today, one that will bring you satisfaction and happiness. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences; you show enthusiasm and a desire to work hard, which youngsters often don’t manage to fully express. This is why I would once again like to thank this Institute, as it gives you the opportunity to express your desire to work hard. There are some other things I would like to say on this. Over the last few months, whenever I have had the chance to meet with young people, I have been struck by their idealism, their talent and their dedication.   
I’m thinking about the young diplomats who accompanied me on my first foreign visit to Tripoli.
The young doctors and nurses I met in Bergamo and at the vaccination centre in Fiumicino.
The sports champions I had the pleasure of welcoming to Palazzo Chigi.
However, I’m also referring to the many young people who write to me to tell me about their fears and their ambitions.
I want to make a commitment, with all of them and all of you.
After years of Italy often not paying the due attention to its younger generations, please rest assured that your aspirations and expectations are at the heart of the Government’s action.     

Education forms the basis of any young person’s growth path.
During your time at school, you develop the skills you need for the years ahead.
You discover your individual flairs and talents.
You get ready to fully contribute to society.
Investing in education is therefore a civil duty and an act of social justice.
A dysfunctional education system feeds inequalities, hinders mobility and deprives Italy of knowledgeable and skilled citizens.   

It is not only your future that depends on education, but ours too; the future of us all.
The most prosperous societies are the ones that best prepare their young people to manage change.
Today, a historic transformation lies ahead.

The digital transition and the environmental transition require broad and ambitious planning, which must also involve the entire education system.
According to some estimates, in order to handle these two transitions, the European Union must invest around 650 billion per year until 2030.
We must build new infrastructure and reskill our industrial fabric.
We must ensure that demand and supply are aligned in terms of skill sets, especially for highly specialised professions. 

Here, as in other ITSs, you have managed to understand, and design, the future.
Day after day, you deal with development and progress.
You learn, close-up, about machines that improve transport safety or that analyse health data. 
You experience first-hand how important production capacity is for people’s lives, as well as the extent to which innovation can make all the difference to a local area.
At national level, employment rates among ITS graduates are very high.
As we mentioned earlier, here, 92% of you find work within a year. 
This success is made possible by an educational offer that focuses on the most innovative sectors and, thanks to contacts with industry, meets the requirements of businesses and the local area.

The National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), the programme of investments and reforms that we have agreed with the European Commission, centres around you and other young people.
This is why I chose here to embark on a path to illustrate the NRRP which, over the coming weeks, will involve the whole Government.     
We are investing approximately EUR 1.5 billion to inject further impetus into our ITSs and to help students join the world of work.
We plan to train new teachers for innovative study programmes and to enhance facilities, starting from laboratories that currently use Technology 4.0.
After being approved by the Chamber of Deputies, the ITS reform is now being looked at by the Senate. The aim of this reform is to align higher technical training with the technological areas of the future, such as sustainable mobility and biotechnologies. 
We want this reform to be definitively approved in 2022, together with the reform of our technical and vocational institutes.

One of our priorities is to bridge the gender gap.
As things stand today, only 28% of ITS graduates are female.
This reflects a broader problem, regarding the limited number of girls and women who choose to study technical-scientific subjects.
It is our duty to break down prejudice and the barriers that continue to hold talented women back.
We can only beat this challenge if we start from our schools.

We must also increase the number of students who enrol with ITSs in the south of the country.
Cutting-edge technical training is key to reducing youth employment, which is much higher in the Mezzogiorno compared with the national average.
The process to align Italy’s southern regions with the north of the country has been at a standstill for decades.
Investing in ITSs and, more generally, in education, research and technology transfer, may contribute to getting this process moving again, bridging the divide that has remained the same for the last 30-40 years. 
To succeed in this, we must copy successful examples, such as the one set by your Institute.

The resources that are now being made available to the South are unprecedented in recent history.
We must spend this money well, honestly and quickly.
This is the Government’s responsibility, but it is also the responsibility of the Municipalities and other local authorities.
Delays in spending available resources, which have been experienced in the Mezzogiorno for far too long now, represent a hindrance to your freedom and a burden on your future.  
It is up to you, the youth of today, to transform Italy.
It is up to us to enable you to do so in the best way possible.
You must begin to imagine the country you would like to live in.
Get ready to build it, with passion, determination and – why not? – even with a touch of rashness.

Thank you.

[Courtesy translation]