Jobs in Italy: The Reality of Employment

While many look to move to Italy for retirement, many of you are also searching with the hope of finding jobs in Italy and starting a new career here. Unfortunately, for those of you with hopes of grand careers, Italy might not be the place for you, if you’ve got your heart set on a specific professional trajectory. Work Visas are notoriously a bit difficult to come by, but that is not to say impossible. There are just a few things to keep in mind while you are looking for jobs in Italy, you’ll need to get a bit of a realistic idea of the situation here.

For instance, as you might have heard, Italy’s youth are leaving by the hundreds every month. There’s a reason for this, work conditions, offers, and stipends are not promising for young people, and are not very attractive, compared to offers in other countries. Stipends are low compared to what you might be used to, the average stipend is €30k per year, divided often by “thirteen” months.

That being said, you can make it work as cost of living might also be less than what you are used to. But you’ll also want to consider work environment and company culture, which is often very different in Italy than what you might be used to. Since that is very personal individual to individual, I would only say that in general, in my own experience, there is little faith in young people or in innovative thinking. In many places things are done the way they are done and that’s that. However, I repeat this is my experience and I do not say it is this way everywhere.

But now that we’ve mentioned these bits to keep in mind, let’s look a little better at the situation of jobs in Italy and the reality of employment.

Most Requested Jobs in Italy

While I always do my best to share the facts, I have to share a personal insight here as well: the lists of jobs that show up as the “most requested in Italy” do not actually seem to reflect where Italy is lacking staff. Let me explain: some lists say there is a serious lack of lawyers and doctors in Italy. I beg to differ, given the fact that every year around 9000 medical students graduate. The fact is that these graduates choose not to accept public “medici di famiglia” positions due to the hours, stipend, and general working situation. While there are many job openings in this field it does not mean there are not individuals in Italy ready to fill them.

From the perspective of someone living in Italy, with no official study, I noticed that there is a serious lack of manual labor: mechanics, construction, plumbers, electricians, and drivers. I talk to many friends around Italy that mention it is very difficult to find one available. Yet, unfortunately, these are not jobs that often visas often.

Now, however, trusting LinkedIn to tell us the most requested jobs in Italy, they are as follows:

  • Sales Specialist or Business Developer
  • Sustainability Consultant
  • Cybersecurity Analyst
  • Pharmacy Manager
  • Data Engineer
  • Cloud Engineer
  • Machine Learning Engineer
  • Solutions Engineer
  • Purchasing Manager
(data from The Local’s analysis of LinkedIn Postings)

Unemployment in Italy

Now, as I mentioned it is important to have a good look at the reality of employment in Italy to fully understand what you are getting into.

This year unemployment rose 7.9% so far, however, they often survey this number monthly or weekly so it is hard to keep a concrete percentage. But lately, it appears the often the employment rates vary just by a minor percentage. In theory, there is a 60.8% employment rate currently in Italy.

You may notice that employment and unemployment don’t add up, that is because there is a third category, that of “inactive” individuals.

Here it is probably good to share the definitions of employed, unemployed, and inactive.

According to ISTAT, anyone fits into the “disoccupato” category if: they are between ages of 15 and 74 and have searched and applied for jobs in the last month or who will begin a job in the next three months, but currently are without work.

“Occupato” includes anyone over 15 who has worked at least one hour in the week of the survey, including in an unpaid family company.

(As you can see that could really sway the numbers positively. But it means if someone picked up one project just that week, but hasn’t worked otherwise in months, they still count as employed.)

Finally “Inattivo” means someone who has not searched for jobs, or is unable to accept a job.

While this information is good to have on hand to have a solid number to share, a part of me feels it doesn’t truly share what Italy’s employment scene looks like. As you might have noticed these statistics also cover ages 15 to 74. While in theory students may choose to leave school at 16, it is rare that they have full jobs before 18, if they attended a trade school, or even well after 25 if they attended university.

It’s not common in Italy to work while you study. Therefore people may take jobs much later than we are used to.

Getting a Job as A Foreigner in Italy

If you are looking for a job in Italy, it is very important to know that stipends are most likely much lower than you might expect. Consider a mid-level marketing position offered to someone with a Masters might still only pay €1,500-1,700 a month. Jobs are protected by certain contracts known as CCNL, these define the stipends for different professional levels, and it is difficult to negotiate outside these parameters. Note – difficult but not impossible!

If you still are set on getting a job in Italy even with the low stipends, next you’ll want to consider your language skills. Even if a position is listed in English, there is a decent chance the team will be Italian, and work primarily in Italian. You should have a decent level of Italian before applying. This will help your chances but also help you feel more comfortable in your new company.

Here are some tips for finding a job in Italy.

Now if you’ve gotten comfortable with the stipends and language, it’s time to think: can you legally work in Italy?

If you are already here with a relevant and valid permesso di soggiorno, then you should be good to go, however, if you need to convert that permesso, or get a visa, there is more work to be done.

Work Visas to Italy

There are actually two work visas to come to Italy, a classic work visa, which can be given through sponsorship of a company, and then the EU Blue Card given to specialized workers. The EU Blue Card also needs a contract, but it also needs you to meet certain eligibility requirements. Neither are particularly quick to apply for.

Remember also, in order to issue a visa, companies have to prove that no one else in the candidate pool can do your job. Only you, the foreigner. That already cuts your chances unless you are the only researcher in a very niche field.

However, once again, while it may be difficult it is by no means impossible. Foreigners are able to find jobs in Italy and obtain work visas.

When searching for a potential work visa, you should seek out companies who are already familiar with working with internationals, as they will better understand how to help you with the visa. You should also look outside the typical ex-pat hubs: Florence, Rome, and Milan have many US, Canadian, and UK residents who can already fill positions. Instead, if you search outside the main cities, you might find yourself to be the only candidate with excellent English, or other sought-after skills.

As for obtaining a work visa: your company will have to help you out a little by providing a bit of paper work. Before anything you will need to obtain a Nulla Osta, which is a permission obtained in Italy allowing you to apply for the visa. That is where your company will give you a hand.

Once you have that you will apply for the Visa in your home country with the Nulla Osta, Contract, proof of housing, and proof of funds.

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