This is an extended edit of the portrait/documentary series that was named winner of the Photojournalism Category, Mini-Series in the LensCulture Visual Storytelling Awards 2015. Discover more inspiring work from all of the winners and finalists.

People of my generation are educated, study in the best Italian and European universities, travel and work abroad/overseas. After that, people need to make do with what they have: an ordinary job for a few euros. When we start to work we are forced to do temporary jobs where the equation between time and money is not balanced.

In spite of the great amount of acquired skills, just a few people are able to to sign a real contract; something which can serve as the basis for their future. All the rest are stuck in uncertain, short-term contracts which steal their time and give no reward back.

Those who do not have a formal education experience the same frustration: they have to content themselves with what they can find. They are as prepared as the others since they rolled up their sleeves and get involved in the job market from the beginning.

In my country, Italy, the sense of oppression, alienation and skepticism you feel when talking to people is undeniable.

So, I decided to portray people experiencing this situation in order to create a photographic census: an “army” of men and women struggling to get by while offering their time and skills to an ungrateful country. After all, time is a precious good, yet intangible and currently luxurious.

I started by picturing friends and then I met people with whom I discussed the past and present—but who have no clue about their future. I have no solution nor recipe to solve the problem. Nevertheless, since I am part of the struggling army, I felt the need to let my voice be heard loud and clear.

—Carlo Pellegrini