The biennial conference continues this morning. The opening session has just finished. In it, the Committee’s rapporteur, Maria Candelas Sanchez Miguel, presented the main themes of her opinion, adopted in the April plenary session (see 28 April post). As usual, it is invidious to single out particular speakers but I feel I must mention Stefano Zamagni who, thirty years ago, was my professor at the Johns Hopkins University Bologna Center (as was his wife, Vera) and has clearly lost none of his intellectual brilliance. If absolute poverty is almost non-existent in Europe, he argued, there is a disturbing increase in relative poverty – disturbing because it threatens social cohesion and democracy. In Zamagni’s opinion, much of this trend can be attributed to insufficient and inappropriate education and training. The third industrial revolution has changed the structure of the labour market from the previous pyramid to a new ‘hour glass’ type structure, with the choking point not at the menial or specialised level, but in between. Accordingly, Zamagni continued, schooling for all is necessary but not sufficient: ‘study is not enough; you must be appropriately qualified’. To study and graduate and then become unemployed is damaging psychologically and damages the social and political fabric. Moreover, informal education is an increasingly important complement to formal structures and non-profit and charitable organisations (several of whom have stands in the Piazza outside our conference) have an important role to play. Zamagni’s speech was an excellent aperitivo for the work of the three thematic workshops that are just getting underway now.