1. About ItalyItaly
  2. Working conditions
  3. Sectors and companies that are recruiting
  4. Applying for a job
  5. Major recruitment pointers
  6. Recruitment Resources and networks

1. About Italy

Italy has a diversified industrial economy, which is divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less-developed, welfare-dependent, agricultural south, with high unemployment. The Italian economy is driven in large part by the manufacture of high-quality consumer goods produced by small and medium-sized enterprises, many of them family owned. Italy also has a sizable underground economy, which by some estimates accounts for as much as 15% of GDP. These activities are most common within the agriculture, construction, and service sectors. Italy has moved slowly on implementing needed structural reforms, such as reducing graft, overhauling costly entitlement programs, and increasing employment opportunities for young workers, particularly women. The international financial crisis worsened conditions in Italy’s labor market, with unemployment rising from 6.2% in 2007 to 8.4% in 2010, but in the longer-term Italy’s low fertility rate and quota-driven immigration policies will increasingly strain its economy. A rise in exports and investment driven by the global economic recovery nevertheless helped the economy grow by about 1% in 2010 following a 5% contraction in 2009. The Italian government has struggled to limit government spending, but Italy’s exceedingly high public debt remains above 115% of GDP, and its fiscal deficit – just 1.5% of GDP in 2007 – exceeded 5% in 2009 and 4% in 2010, as the costs of servicing the country’s debt rose.

Population: 61.0 million

GDP per inhabitant (2010): USD 30.500,-

Unemployment rate (09/10): 8.4%

2. Working conditions

Italy has a number of trade unions which, although formally independent, are connected to the larger political parties. The strongest union has always been the Confederazione Generale Italiana Lavoratori (CGIL), originally of communist allegiance, but now affiliated with the leftist Democrats. Italian trade unions were very strong in the past, and thanks to their efforts in the 1970s and 1980s many Italian workers currently enjoy a high level of social protection. Some of this protective network is being dismantled, but the foundations remain in place. Following mass strikes and demonstrations in 1968 and 1969, a statute of workers’ rights was finally made law in 1970, thus ensuring security of employment in larger firms. Smaller firms were exempted from adopting a number of the statute’s measures, but its impact has nevertheless been considerable in promoting the rights of workers. Among other significant victories for the trade union was the wage indexing system, guaranteeing that salaries would rise in line with annual inflation; common job classification, which introduced standardized salaries throughout Italy for specific categories of work; paid maternity leave; and an increase in the number of paid holidays. Despite these measures, Italian workers are among the worst paid in Europe, and higher wages for all workers is a constant demand of the trade unions, since the strong and well-organized employers’ associations do not ever award substantial increases. Poor wages, though, are generally offset by a number of other social benefits, and in recent years the working week has been reduced to 37 hours (down 2.5 hours) for the same pay. Furthermore, people who are laid off can count on employment checks for a number of months and are entitled to severance pay, no matter what the grounds for dismissal.

Workers in the informal economy tend to be poorly educated, live in high unemployment areas, and are often foreign immigrants. They are unable to take advantage of the benefits enjoyed by the legally employed, and their working conditions are inadequate. Those who run the informal economy ignore safety regulations, demand working hours that far exceed the legal maximum, make no contributions to pension funds, offer no job security, and give no severance pay. The informal economy has the greatest impact on farm laborers where work is seasonal, and on construction and textile production workers employed by small firms. Wages in the informal sector tend to be at subsistence level, but it is difficult to ascertain the actual figures. Despite the efforts of the EU to curb the informal economy in Italy and enforce safety regulations, over 1,000 workers die in the work place every year.

Trade unionism in Italy has been in decline since the mid-1980s and most paid-up union members are retired workers. The influence of the unions has declined due to the reduction of the workforce in the industrial sector, the skepticism with which the trade union elite is perceived, and government policy aimed at weakening the unions. Much that was achieved by the unions has been abolished or is on the verge of being dismantled. Privatization, liberalization, and budget cuts have reduced the protection network, and businesses have a far freer hand in dealing with the workforce. Consequently, employers’ contributions towards pensions are being slashed, and overtime is not as well paid. The pressure of international competition and the necessity to maintain a healthy budget mean that labor costs have to be cut in both the private and public sectors. In order to preserve jobs, the trade unions and employers entered into a pact by which workers moderate their requests and accept cuts in exchange for job security.

Read more: Information about Working conditions in Italy from

Legal working hours : 37.5 hrs / week; in reality more hours

Length of trial / notice period: From 3 to 6 months for managers

Employment formalities: Medical check upon recruitment to be set by the employer. No special requirements for EU citizens. Work permit required. Certain regulated professions require prior recognition of the diploma (lawyer, psychologist, engineer; biologist, teacher, etc.)

3. Sectors that are recruiting

Pharmaceutical and Health Care, Energy and Services, Consulting. Changes are also given in machinery manufacture, textiles, clothing, tourism, chemicals, wine and motor vehicles. The manufacturing industry is located mainly in the northern regions of Lombardy, Piemonte and Liguria.

4. Applying for a job

Application documents: Resume in Italian or English. Short motivation letter. No reference letters required before the interview.

Advice regarding the CV: No more than 1 to 2 sheets for a CV (except for technical jobs). Suite of positions have to be presented in a chronological reverse order. Point out results and personal achievements.

5. Major recruitment pointers

Business Etiquette/knowing how to behave during interviews: Dress properly, be in time at the interview and shake hand with a smile. Be prepared and ask proper questions. Show interest, enthusiasm and flexibility.

Languages you must be able to speak: Italian, English, preferably a third European language.

Flagship training:Engineering studies in well known international Universities and Polithecnics. Milan Polithecnic for Engineering and L.Bocconi University for Economics are the first flagship training.

Compensation&Benefits / Taxes: Some tax benefits for extra work and bonuses. 5 weeks of vacation per year. Company Car for most of commercial role.

6. Recruitment resources and networks

Important business networking sites:

Where to network:
Italian Camera di Commercio. Professional Associations, French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Milan.