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Skilled, educated and washing dishes: How Italy squanders migrant talent

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Marilyn Nabor, a seasoned mathematics teacher at a high school in the Philippines, moved to Italy 14 years ago with the intention of perfecting her craft in the land of Galileo and Fibonacci.

Presently matured at 49, she functions as a servant in Rome, counting spider webs and earthenware, and has deserted any expectation of getting back to her previous calling. ” This nation doesn’t perceive our confirmation or educational program from the Philippines,” she said. ” I can’t find work for professionals.”

Abhishek, a 26-year-old Indian immigrant who earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Turin’s Polytechnic University last year, was unsuccessful in earning qualifications in Italy.

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Abhishek, who declined to provide his name, claimed that his basic Italian was deemed insufficient and that he had been turned down for a number of jobs. He has now looked for a job as a designer in the Netherlands, where he can get by with English.

These tales highlight a troubling fact: there are meager possibilities in Italy for unfamiliar conceived laborers, but qualified they are, because of a blend of elements remembering a severe cap for work grants and a high citizenship bar.

In contrast to a large portion of the West, migrants rarely work in skilled occupations like teaching, engineering, or medicine, which raises concerns for a nation with a stagnant economy and a rapidly aging population.

Just over 67% of non-EU workers in Italy, according to Eurostat, are overqualified, meaning they are stuck in jobs with medium or low skill levels despite having a university education.

that was higher than the EU average of around 40%. Just Greece did more terribly in the 27-part coalition, while France and Germany were between 30-35%.

According to a lot of economists, Italy, which is also dealing with an exodus of skilled nationals to economies that are stronger, needs qualified immigrants to fill growing shortages of skilled labor. Despite being the global lingua franca, English is not widely used in the workplace like it is in much of northern Europe.

According to data provided by the labor ministry, the vast majority of the country’s 5 million foreign residents are either unemployed or employed in low-skilled occupations such as domestic workers, workers in hotels, restaurants, factories, construction, or small shops.


According to Eurostat data, Italy’s labor productivity increased by only 0.4% annually between 1995 and 2021, less than a third of the EU average, and its gross domestic product has barely increased since the beginning of the century after inflation is taken into account.

According to Filippo Barbera, a sociology professor at Turin University, Italian governments have instead treated migrants’ arrival as cause for alarm for decades instead of utilizing their skills and integrating them into the workforce.

Following a sharp rise in migration across the Mediterranean, the right-wing government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni declared a “state of emergency” on immigration this month.

Meloni, who has drafted harder refuge rules since taking office a half year prior, has likewise said she will increment channels for legitimate relocation, however, no substantial advances have been taken.

The Ministry of Labor and the office of the prime minister both declined to comment on this article.

Meloni denies that increasing the number of migrant workers is the solution to Italy’s economic woes.

“Before we discuss movement we ought to deal with the chance of including a lot more ladies in the work market and expanding the rate of birth, these are the needs,” she told columnists last week.

According to government data, 83,000 non-EU migrants will receive work permits in 2023, which is less than a third of the 277,000 who applied.

Only 1,000 spots will be available for high-skilled workers with qualifications in their countries of origin, and more than half of the permits will be given out for temporary, seasonal jobs. The majority of the remaining permits will be given out for unskilled work, such as factory labor.

Large numbers of those that really do show up are terrified to find that having their capabilities perceived by managers is many times a confounded, somewhat long undertaking. The majority of professional guilds only accept Italian citizens and have stringent entrance requirements based on academic records, work experience, or exams.

Gustavo Garcia, a 39-year-old Venezuelan sociologist, has worked as a food delivery driver, house painter, and gardener in Italy for four years.

His master’s degree in sociology, which he had earned in Venezuela over the course of five years, was reduced to a basic three-year Italian degree, so he is now resuming his studies at Padua University to make up for lost time.

He stated, “I want to do a doctorate, so I am forced to redo a master’s degree.” The bureaucracy in Italy is extremely complicated and difficult to comprehend.


According to the Bank of Italy and a lot of economists, migrants could help the country’s fragile public finances as well as buffer the country’s shrinking population and workforce. Births last year were the fewest since the country’s unification in 1861.

By 2070, the Treasury estimates that Rome’s massive debt as a percentage of GDP would be reduced by more than 30 percentage points with a 33% increase in migrants, compared to a baseline scenario.

At the end of last year, Rome’s debt-to-GDP ratio was 144%, the second highest in the eurozone behind Greece’s.

The path to citizenship for non-EU migrants who are determined to build a life in Italy is longer and more difficult than in most Western European countries. Before they can apply, non-EU migrants must be at least 18 years old and have been legal residents of the country for ten years.

Even though Oussama, a 32-year-old Moroccan who moved to Italy as a teenager, has achieved Italian citizenship and graduated from Turin with a degree in chemical engineering last year, this apparent success story has not yet reached its zenith.

All things considered, he has toiled through a half year of bombed employment forms and humble work since acquiring his graduate degree.

I took on a variety of jobs. Oussama, who is married with two children and is currently completing an internship with a company that designs health and safety systems for the workplace, stated, “I would not mind doing it again to feed my family. I worked at the market and handed out advertising.”

Barbera at Turin College said the absence of travelers in talented callings has become dug in and difficult to turn around.

He stated, “Migrants in Italy have practically no access to the middle class.” It partially benefits itself. Because they are accustomed to seeing them in low-level positions, it becomes thought of as their natural habitat.”

(Extra revealing by Gavin Jones, Alvise Armellini, and Vittorio Maresca di Serracapriola; Alvise Armellini and Gavin Jones wrote; Pravin Char provided editing)

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