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Is Italy a desirable place for foreigners to work?

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Italy came ninth in a survey ranking the most desirable places in the world to work. Italy worker: Shutterstock
18:19 CEST+02:00
Italy was ranked the ninth most desirable place in the world to work in a survey this week, but some foreigners who live and work here beg to differ.

The economy is languishing and the unemployment rate is among the highest in Europe.

Even if you are in a job, salaries are low while getting paid, for some, is sporadic.

But for 25 percent of the 203,756 people polled by the Boston Consulting Group, Italy is an appealing place to work.

Rome also fared well as the world's tenth most desirable city to work, one place behind prosperous Singapore but ahead of Dubai, where workers enjoy tax-free salaries.

Antonella Del Torto, a senior consultant at the Italy branch of A Great Place to Work, a workplace consultancy group, attributes Italy’s position in the ranking to “the attractiveness of our country abroad, thanks to its beauty and the perception of quality of life.”

But while Italy undoubtedly has an abundance of charm, the reality has failed to live up to the dream for some expats.

Martin Shaw, who previously worked as a parliamentary secretary for the British parliament, moved to Italy five years ago, but has struggled to survive on short-term English teaching jobs.

For the last two years, Shaw taught English at a university in Viterbo, but was recently told there was no more work, and he has yet to be paid for the last course he taught.

“From an employment perspective, Italy has been an absolute disaster,” he told The Local.

“It had never quite dawned on me how difficult it is to find a job here, let alone actually be paid for doing it in a conventional manner. By conventional manner, I mean monthly into the bank account by transfer at the end of the month.”

Foreigners are also at a disadvantage in the Italian workplace, Shaw said, adding that “nepotism and a culture of 'Italians first' means that it will be a very long time before an equal playing field comes to town.”

Milika Godja has lived in Italy for three years and said the business environment is “highly corrupted”, while Barny D Howler said “Italy is a great place to work...if you’re employed in another country and sent here as a representative: it’s definitely not desirable to be employed under this system.”

But the bleak outlook hasn't stopped foreigners looking to Italy for jobs.

"Many professional foreigners turn to us for work, and they are particularly interested in positions available in Rome," Erika Perez, a director with the recruitment firm Hays Italia, told The Local.

"The reason is simple: it is a wonderful city, rich in history, culture and attractions, and it offers a high quality of life."

She added that the Italian capital is also "back in fashion" thanks to the Oscar-winning La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty), which was filmed in the city.

Kimberly Ross, a development consultant, said Italy and Rome deserve their place in the ranking.

"Rome is a great place to work and live," she said.

“I find it to be a great alternative to busy, ultra-urban, expensive cities like Paris and London, because it has a slower pace, is less crowded, and  has as a uniquely charming character."

She also likes that "all the major corporate chains haven't yet taken over Rome, so consumerism doesn't bombard you on every corner.

"It's refreshing to be able to have so many options for family-run restaurants and locally-owned shops, unlike other big cities, especially in the US, where it's hard to find anything except the huge international chains and everything feels the same."

Do you work in Italy? If so, we would like to hear about your experiences. Please email us at

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