In Italy, the number of internships after a curriculum doubled in less than 10 years. Usually underpaid, these internships increased more among the 55+ age category in the past years than any other age groups.
In 2020, there were about 235,000 postgraduate internships in Italy according to the annual report on mandatory communications published by the ministry of Labor and Social policies in May 2021.
And even if they only account for 3% of all postgraduate interns, the number of workers doing an internship who are more than 55 years old more than doubled in less than 10 years.
In 2020, there were at least 7,225 interns aged over 55. That's more than twice as many as in 2012 when 3,139 people aged 55+ did an internship.
Two thirds of these senior interns were men.
In 2019, there were 180% more interns over 55 than in 2012. That's more than the overall increase of interns during the same period: +94%.
In Italy, postgraduate or extracurricular internships are intended for the young people and the unemployed ones who completed their education or training courses to acquire professional skills and get a job. The minister only reports on the internships completed after courses - not necessarily at college or a university - but not those done during the course of an education or training program.
Minimum compensation of €300 a month for a postgraduate internship
With no limit of age set by Italian authorities, about half of postgraduate interns are under 24 years old, and 83% under 35. But it also means that 17% of postgraduate interns are 35 years old or more.
With the Covid-19 pandemic hitting Italy's economy, companies reduced the overall number of postgraduate interns by 34% in 2020 for almost all age ranges. Except for the 55+ age category, where they only shrank by 18%.
For the online publication created in 2009 Repubblica degli stagisiti, for Republic of the interns, these grey-hair interns are most likely people "in extreme difficult situations ready to do anything to get a monthly compensation, even if it's not a real pay but merely an internship allowance".
In Italy, the minimum retribution by law for a postgraduate internship is 300 euros (US $343). Set up regionally, the highest minimum allocated to postgraduate interns is in the region of Lazio with €800 a month ($685).
In 2019, Istat, the national Italian institute of statistics, considered than a single person under 60 who lived in a city like Turin or Milan needed €840 a month to live decently.