Skills and job opportunities in Italy
Italy is a popular destination with globetrotters but working in the country provides a number of opportunities to develop your career and expand your cultural horizons.
Italy is a country rich in history and culture and is well known throughout the world for its sunny climate, beautiful landscapes and architecture, fine food and luxury exports.
It’s true that the Italian economy could look a little brighter and that competition for jobs is high but foreign workers with the right combination of skills, qualifications and experience can still find work opportunities.
The majority of jobs can be found in cities such as Florence, Milan, Genoa and the capital Rome. Your search for a job will be aided by a strong grasp of the Italian language; in fact, you’re unlikely to secure work without it.
Millions of travelers flock to Italy every year to see the sights; therefore, tourism is important to the country. Casual work and temporary contracts in this sector are much easier to find than permanent employment in other industries.
As an English speaker, your language skills are highly valued, particularly in tourism and teaching, not only as a second language but also because the majority of locals are not fluent in English. Because of this, jobs teaching English as a foreign language are readily available.
In Italy, most job opportunities, around 22% will be for professionals (high level occupations in science, engineering healthcare, business and teaching), followed by around 17% for technicians and associate professionals (occupations applying scientific or artistic concepts, operational methods and regulations in engineering, healthcare, business and the public sector)
Job opportunities forecast for elementary occupations in Italy, around 16% is higher than the EU average of 13%, while the shares of job opportunities for plant and machine operators (2%) and skilled agriculture workers (3%) in Italy are well below the EU averages for these occupational groups.
Jobs in Italy
While Italy may have the eighth largest economy in the world, it was hit hard by the global financial crisis and still has one of the highest levels of public debt. Unemployment currently stands at 11.4% and youth unemployment at a staggering 39.2%.
Northern Italy is more industrialized and developed and is known for its abundance of private companies. Southern Italy relies heavily on agriculture and farming.
The majority of the country’s 60 million population reside in the north and ambitious graduates are more likely to find work in large northern towns and cities, although you will be in direct competition with locals for job opportunities.
The services sector dominates the economy with wholesale, retail sales and transportation. Industry, the manufacturing of luxury items such as fashion, cars and furniture in particular, also accounts for a fair amount of Italy’s output. Agricultural work makes up the rest of the country’s total GDP and although it’s only a small contribution, Italy is one of the world’s largest producers of wine, olive oil and fruit.
The number of multinational companies in Italy may be smaller than in other European countries but Italian brands such as Ferrari and Lamborghini (automobiles), and Gucci, Prada, Versace, Armani and Benetton (fashion) are known the world over.
Vacancies are commonly advertised in local newspapers and magazines and can also be searched for online.
As tourism is such big business in Italy casual or temporary work should be easy enough to find.
There are plenty of seasonal jobs on offer and these include bar, hotel and restaurant work. You could find employment in summer camps or holiday resorts and if you possess some skills on the slopes you could work at ski resorts in the Italian Alps.
The agricultural sector also provides casual summer jobs such as fruit picking and other outdoor activities.
If you have some childcare experience you could also find work as an au pair.
As long as you have the funds to work for free volunteering is a great way to build your skill-set and learn a new language. Voluntary work looks great on your CV and gives you the chance to network and build contacts.
The European Voluntary Service (EVS), funded by the European Commission (EC), is a scheme aimed at people aged 17 to 30 wishing to volunteer abroad. It offers young people the chance to volunteer for up to 12 months in a number of European and non-European countries.
Opportunities vary from placements concerned with sport and culture to others focused on social care and the environment. For successful applicants, accommodation, travel, food and insurance are all covered by a European grant and you even receive a personal allowance each month.
Make sure you thoroughly research all volunteering opportunities and always check the terms and conditions before committing yourself to a scheme.
If you’d like to teach English as a foreign language then you’ll be pleased to know that English teachers are in high demand in Italy. However, competition for posts is fierce.
The majority of teaching jobs are available in large towns and cities such as Rome, Florence and Milan although opportunities exist throughout the country. You could teach in state schools, private language schools, universities or within businesses teaching their staff English.
TEFL qualifications are preferable and some jobs may even require a Bachelors degree. However it is still possible to find work without.
There are also opportunities to teach English the country with the British Council on their language assistants programme.
A period of work experience or an internship in Italy could aid your career in a number of ways.
As networking is such an important part of finding a job, a work placement is a great way to build up your Italian contacts. Internships are also useful for sharpening your language skills.
Internships in the country usually last between three and six months and the country is a popular destination for those seeking work experience in areas such as fashion, architecture or art.
According to the European Commission, European Union (EU) citizens have the right to:
- move to another EU country to work without a work permit;
- enjoy equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax advantages;
- stay in the country even after employment has finished.
Therefore EU nationals do not need a visa or work permit to enter or work in Italy.
After three months EU citizens will require a residence permit and this can be applied for at your local police station. When applying you will need your passport and passport sized photographs.
Non-EU citizens will require a visa, residence and work permit to live and work in the country. There are different types of visa available depending on the purpose of your stay. When applying for a visa you will need to submit a completed visa application form, a valid passport, recent passport photographs and supporting documents depending on the type of visa you are applying for.
If you’re a foreign national you’ll need to apply for a residence permit as soon as you arrive in Italy.
For more information about obtaining an Italian work visa contact the Italian embassy or consulate in your home country.
This visa information is still valid following the UK’s decision to leave the EU and will be updated if changes occur.
In the majority of cases knowledge of Italian is essential for securing a job.
Proficiency in the language will make life in the country a lot easier too, as large sections of the population don’t speak English. English is more likely to be spoken in tourist areas and large towns and cities but less so in rural areas.
Cedefop skills fodecasts (2015)