'Italy's immigrants are trapped in low-paid jobs'

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The OECD has called on Italy to better integrate children of immigrants. Photo:Giovanni Isolino/AFP
12:53 CEST+02:00
Italy has been told to step up its efforts to help integrate immigrants, many of whom “are among the working poor”, while children of immigrants must also be better integrated.

Even though immigrants of working age are more likely to be in employment than their Italian counterparts, they are among the country’s lowest earners, the OECD said in labour market report on Italy on Tuesday.

Along with Spain, Italy is the OECD country with the highest annual growth of its immigrant population, with numbers almost tripling between 2001 and 2011 to reach nine percent, the report said.

“Many came for work, rather than for family reunification or humanitarian reasons…But many are trapped in low paid jobs and are among the working poor,” the OECD said.

Overall, immigrants made up 31 percent and 40 percent of low-skilled jobs for men and women, respectively, in 2012. Only half have more than a lower secondary diploma and few speak Italian on arrival.

Immigrant men were hard hit by the crisis, "as many worked in construction and manufacturing”, with their rate of employment declining 10 percent to 72 percent between 2008 and 2012.

Meanwhile, almost half the number of legally employed immigrant women work as carers for elderly Italians, a sector largely depending on shrinking household savings, the OECD said.

The OECD said Italy needs “a clearer and more efficient coordination of integration bodies across local and sub-national levels” while “cutting red tape and identifying and mainstreaming effective integration projects” are also required.

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Italian language lessons for immigrants is one area “lacking coordination”.

Italy must also work harder to integrate children of immigrants “in the education system and into the workplace, the report said.

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