Access to the labour market


Country Report: Access to the labour market Last updated: 10/07/24


The residence permit issued to refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection enables them to have access to work and to public employment, with the only admitted limitation being positions involving the exercise of public authority or responsibility for safeguarding the general interests of the State. However, the Code of Navigation establishes that the enrolment of cadets, students and trainees is reserved only for EU or Italian citizens, a rule that appears discriminatory.[1]

Beneficiaries are entitled to the same treatment as Italian citizens with regard to employment, self-employment, registration with professional associations, professional training, including refresher courses, on-the-job training and services provided by employment centres.

According to the law, the Prefects, in agreement with the Municipalities, promote initiatives for the voluntary involvement of applicants and beneficiaries of international protection in activities of social utility in favour of local communities. The activities are unpaid and relevant projects are financed through EU funds.[2]

A research based on 17 interviews to beneficiaries of international protection in Italy out of the reception system, shows possibilities in obtaining a job and sometimes even in keeping it depends less from the quantity and quality of previous skills, from diplomas, internship or apprenticeship certificates than from friendships, social networks and – from the beginning – on the weight of economic obligations towards the family. Those who feel that the obligations towards families are very pressing leads to take advantage of the social networks that can be immediately activated in order to get a job in the shortest possible time. For these subjects, accommodation is experienced as an impediment or a useful support strictly necessary to be able to move in search of a job. A constant of those who find themselves in this situation seems to be that of not building networks with the natives and not having an interest in learning Italian. The need for a quick job leads them to search within “community” networks, for compatriots in the city, or between migrants and refugees, often known in Libya or in the reception facility. Often, they accept informal work in the countryside or sell goods illegally in the main cities, or even move to other European countries in search of better opportunities (such as Spain, France, Sweden, Germany, Malta, etc.). Instead, for those who have a lower need for economic restitution, because younger people, without wife or children, a social path built also through networks of indigenous people internships, even if with little income, or social contacts also through sport activities become important. However, the research shows that this does not mean that those who adhere to this model necessarily want to stay in Italy. Indeed, only one person claims to be open to the possibility; all the others argue that they will move back to their home country.[3]

In January 2024, the Welcome-in-one-click platform was launched online, created by UNHCR, in collaboration with the Adecco Foundation, to facilitate refugees and asylum seekers’ access to the job market. The platform is linked to the Welcome program “Working for refugee integration”, created by UNHCR in 2017 with the aim of promoting the work integration of refugee people. As of January 2024, UNHCR had involved around 700 companies in the Welcome program and promoted around 30,000 work inclusion paths.[4]




[1] Article 119 Navigation Code.

[2] Article 22-bis Reception Decree, as amended by Article 8 Decree Law 13/2017 and L 46/2017, amended by L 173/2020 in order to include asylum seekers.

[3] Rapporto di ricerca “Rifugiati al lavoro – Quali reti? Quali politiche?”, IRES Piemonte, December 2021, available at:

[4] See Integrazione migranti, 24 January 2024, available at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation