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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Italian Expats Move to Countries with a More Modern Approach to Work

The most common destinations for Italians working abroad are Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the USA, and the Netherlands. In general, Italians move to countries with better career opportunities and a less traditional business culture.

Why do Italians move abroad? According to the Expat Insider 2021 survey by InterNations, 60% of Italians working abroad name their career as the most important reason for moving. This is 13 percentage points more than the global average among working expats (47%). Most of the Italian expats were recruited internationally (22%), found a job on their own (21%), or were sent by their employer (15%). Just 2% moved abroad to start their own business.

The Typical Italian Expat Working Abroad

Italian expats working abroad are on average 43.1 years old, and the gender ratio is split quite evenly between male (54%) and female (46%) expats. A slightly higher-than average share work full time (87% vs. 82% globally), while about one in eight (13%) work part time (vs. 18% globally). On average, they also work slightly longer hours (40.6 hours per week vs. 39.9 hours per week globally).

Most Italians working abroad make a living in the field of manufacturing & engineering (12%), followed by IT and finance (10% each). Other fields of work they frequently mention are education (8%) and healthcare (7%).

Varying Levels of Education

When it comes to the level of education, the Expat Insider survey shows an interesting split: The majority of Italian expats working abroad is highly educated. In fact, 47% have a postgraduate degree / master’s degree, which is on par with the global average (47%), and 15% even hold a PhD or similar. The latter is about twice the global average (8%). However, the share of those whose highest level of education is just a high school degree is also twice as high as the global average (10% vs. 5% globally).

This difference is also reflected in their current employment situation. Many Italian expats work in a senior/specialist position (36% vs. 30% globally) or as top managers / executives (14% vs. 13% globally). But there’s also an above-average share working in lower/middle management (19% vs. 17% globally) or in entry-level jobs (10% vs. 7% globally). Generally, Italians abroad do not tend to have their own business (4% vs. 7% globally) or be self-employed / freelancers (6% vs. 11% globally).

Italians Working Abroad Appreciate Their Career Opportunities …

Italians working abroad are very satisfied with their career opportunities (57% vs. 49% globally) and the state of the local economy in their respective host country (72% vs. 65% globally). This stands in stark contrast to their home country: 43% of expats living in Italy are unhappy with the local economy (vs. 17% globally) and 51% rate the local career opportunities negatively (vs. 29% globally).

In fact, the most common destinations for Italians working abroad are Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the USA, and the Netherlands. All countries rank among the top 10 worldwide for either the local career opportunities (UK, USA), or the state of the local economy (Switzerland, the Netherlands), or even both (Germany). “I like the opportunities for employment and education,” says an expat woman who moved from Italy to Hamburg (Germany) because she found a job there.

… Remote Work, a Good Compensation, and a Good Work-Life Balance

When asked what they like most about their current job, most working Italian expats cite the opportunity to work remotely / from home (36%). In fact, 87% are able to work remotely. COVID-19 seems to have played a role here, with close to half (48%) saying that their employer’s policy regarding remote work changed permanently due to COVID-19 (i.e., the changes will apply even after the pandemic). Nearly three in ten (28%) are now able to work remotely more often than before COVID-19, and 20% state that remote work was newly introduced and is here to stay. Interestingly, while a large share points out that working remotely is what they like best about their current job, only a below-average share of 60% state that they like remote work in general (vs. 65% globally).

Other than that, Italian expats enjoy the good compensation and/or good benefits (35%) and their good work-life balance (33%). Regarding the latter, close to seven in ten (68%) are happy with their work-life balance abroad, which is the same as the global average (68%). The gross yearly income of Italian expats working abroad is similar to the global average, too: 39% make more than 75,000 USD per year (vs. 38% globally), while 61% earn less than that (vs. 62% globally).

What Italian Expats Working Abroad Wish For

With regard to the future, a good compensation and/or good benefits (55%), as well as a good work-life balance (48%), are factors that remain relevant for Italian expats working abroad. However, many also name creative/interesting tasks (31%), flexible working hours (25%), career development (24%), and room for personal development/growth (21%) when imagining their dream job.

“These are all factors that have become more and more relevant in the public discussion about the future of work,” says Malte Zeeck, InterNations Founder and Co-CEO. “It seems like Italians are not only moving to countries with better career opportunities but also to destinations with a more modern approach to work.”

In fact, 59% of Italian expats say that factors like autonomy, freedom, creativity, personal development, and self-fulfillment are more important in the business culture of the country they now live in than in Italy. These values are closely related to the concept of New Work, which describes the new way of working in the global and digital age. On a global scale, just 49% of expats say the same about their host country.

The Concept of New Work Is Not Important in Italy

Italy only comes 49th out of 55 countries in the ranking that compares how much of a role the concept of New Works plays in the local business culture. The USA and the Netherlands, two of the most common destinations for Italians working abroad, however, rank first and fifth worldwide. While the UK (15th), Switzerland (23rd), and Germany (35th) do not make it into the top 10, they still rank considerably higher than Italy.

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