Eight out of 10 Italians (81.9 percent) search for employment opportunities among friends and relatives. There is a great lack of confidence in public and private placement agencies because only one in four would turn to them as their first choice. The results for private (temporary) work agencies are even worse. Only 14.4 percent of job seekers say they make use of them, compared with 32.9 percent in France and 21 percent in the U.K., while in Germany the proportion is 12.7 percent.
According to a new Eurostat survey, this situation, which is already well known and has structural causes, has deteriorated markedly over the past decade. In 2007, before the economic crisis, the proportion of Italians seeking employment through friendships and social connections was 74 percent. There is an enormous gap between Italy and other European countries: In Germany, 38.1 percent are finding work in this manner, in the U.K. 45.1 percent, and in France 61.9 percent. The average among the E.U.-28 countries, measured for the second quarter of last year, is 68.9 percent.
This is a very high number, which points to an underlying trend: Job opportunities, paid less and less and with fewer and fewer protections, are being sought everywhere through informal connections. In Italy, this is done even more than in other places. We are not the only ones, but we are the most egregious exponents of an organic trend that is affecting the whole European labor market.