Italy will grant more work permits to non-EU workers from now until 2025. There have been complaints of a lack of skilled workers. Meanwhile, the government is cracking down on illegal immigrants crossing the Mediterranean.
The Italian government announced it will issue 425,000 work permits between this year and 2025 to non-EU nationals. This follows complaints of staff shortages in sectors, including construction.
The economy in Italy is rebounding nicely post-pandemic, with more than 1% growth, leading PM Meloni to say it is the most reliable EU economy.
However, the Bank of Italy has warned a shortage of skilled workers could endanger its recovery plan.
The right-wing coalition will increase and promote legal migration to plug gaps in the labour market. Furthermore, quotas were set after talks with employers and unions.
How many work permits have been granted?
Before the pandemic, Italy issued fewer than 31,000 work permits a year to non-EU migrant workers.
In 2023, there are already 82,705 permits in process. It is believed they will issue a further 40,000 more this year.
The government hopes to gradually increase the number of work permits granted each year, and expand the jobs foreign workers are eligible for. The final figure for 2025 is 165,000 permits.
Job shortages exist for skills such as fishermen, construction workers, plumbers, nurses, bus drivers, and mechanics.
Quotas are hypocritical
Some of the work permits will be reserved for people from countries that sign deals to fight illegal migration.
PM Giorgia Meloni faced accusations of hypocrisy after the plan was announced. As leader of a right-wing coalition, one of her allies is Matteo Salvini, of the hard-right League party. He has repeatedly suggested non-European migrants threaten Italian culture. He is currently on trial for refusing to allow a rescue ship to dock in 2019, when he was in Giuseppe Conte’s government.
Laura Boldrini, of the centre-Left Democratic Party, said the high quotas were a surrender and “a bitter dose of reality for those who have built their political careers by demonising immigration as a national security threat.”