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Shaping our Future – Merit, not age, as the discriminating factor

    • Turin
    • 16 November 2007

          The Conference described and analyzed proposals for generational turnover in Italy and Europe. Participants focused on fostering merit in the areas of economics, politics and academia. Regarding generational turnover, proposals included lowering the active and passive voting age in the Senate, and limiting the number of terms in office they may seek (as with mayors in Italy). There was also support for guaranteed minimum quotas for the participation of women and young people in politics (although this tool would only have partial benefits), for the substitution of cooptation with that of competition (from the present win-win system to voting rules that clearly define the winner and the loser), and for the promotion of greater osmosis between young public leaders and politics (as per the French example). Economic organizations and businesses need a transparent system based on trust and shared values that will allow young people access to top company positions. This approach has to start with the selection methods used for top management. Individual aspirations need to be identified and guided (some people are interested in being leaders and others in being players), through a policy of merit recognition. Finally, various European participants supported the need to promote competition between universities to develop greater product quality. This can be done through freedom in raising and using funds, and by abolishing the legal value of degrees which do not encourage students and their families to search for excellence. In order to attract “brains” from abroad (in response to the “brain drain”), satisfactory pay and career advancement schemes must be established for researchers and professors, through suitable merit-based policies that eliminate criteria rewarding seniority and ease the rigidity of the status of public employees.

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