The Italian Region of Sicily is one of the 10 European regions with the highest unemployment rate. This makes it difficult for local youths to find satisfying job opportunities, sometimes leading to frustration for young Sicilians who are often well educated, speak foreign languages, and are willing to work hard.
The EURES office in Palermo, the regional capital, knows well the difficult situation of the labour market in Sicily. It tries to respond to the needs of youths by establishing solid professional ties with reknowned hotel and resort chains such as the Spanish Sol Melià, as well as with big entertainment companies such as Euro Disney.
Sol Meliá, with its 350 hotels in 30 countries, is a leading Spanish chain in both the city and resort markets. Dealing with clients from many different nationalities, they actively seek to employ a multicultural stuff. This is particularly true when it comes to hiring entertainers for their resorts. These performers are trained and coached carefully over a three-week period where they learn, not only the ‘secrets’ of their job, but also the company’s winning philosophy.
The EURES office in Palermo has a solid track record in putting young jobseekers in contact with Sol Meliá. They usually leave Sicily with a lot of doubts and worries, and usually end up discovering a new world and a new professional dimension. Once they have finished their first season with Sol Meliá, they report feeling ‘plunged’ into an international and stimulating working environment.
This has been the case of three young jobseekers coming from Palermo. When Annamaria, Alex and Aurora left Palermo for Malaga, Spain, to start their training course with Sol Melià, their suitcases were full of expectations and hope. They were not all so convinced of the new life that they were about to start but they could not help thinking positively after previous months of unemployment and frustrating job-hunting.
Annamaria, who is a 28-year old university graduate in foreign languages and informatics, said: “Having looked for a job for eight months after taking my second university degree, I was obliged to accept this offer. At first I looked at it as if it was a sort of holiday, the one I never took during my busy years spent studying”.
But then things turned out completely differently. “The training course was absolutely fantastic!” she said. “It was very intense but entertaining; we were playing like kids all day long”. After the training course, she started to work as an entertainer on the island of Fuerteventura, Canary Islands. During her free time she worked at the reception to learn the ‘ins and outs’ of this position – the one she was really aiming for.
Finally, after a couple of months, all of a sudden, one of the receptionists left her post and Annamaria could finally step in. Since then, she has happily worked on the front desk, a role viewed as a gateway to other positions in the management of the resort. Today she is particularly thankful to the Palermo EURES staff who convinced her to go to the selection procedure several months earlier, even though she was sick that day. “If you do not go”, they said, “you may miss a good opportunity”, and apparently it would have definitely been so.
Alex, instead, simply felt the need for a change in his life and now also works as an entertainer in Fuerteventura: “It is wonderful to be an entertainer, a job I would have never done if I had not stopped at the EURES office!” He also stresses the importance of his personal experience. “Travelling and working in a different country has exposed me to different cultures and helped me discover new insights. Work and life experience is vital to moving forward and services such as EURES help youths acquire both”, he said.
Aurora is also very much satisfied by the services that EURES offers and by the working environment she found at this hotel chain. “Sol Melià is a very reliable company, everything is well planned and there is strong attention to detail. They take care of us as if we were one big family”, she said. She is now happy in the Balearic island of Menorca where she works as an entertainer, having reached her goal: “Simply I wanted to work abroad and EURES helped me to realise my dream”, she said.
Massimo, another of our Sicilian jobseekers, left Palermo to improve his French, so he could have better job opportunities back in Italy. Thanks to EURES, he found a job in the merchandising section of Euro Disney in Paris, a company that needs no presentation. “The experience at Euro Disney is highly appreciated and easy to transfer to other large companies on the French labour market. It is an excellent entry ticket that can open unexpected doors. My experience, which was supposed to last just four months, has turned out to be the most enriching opportunity of my professional life”, he said.
Having started as a simple clerk at a merchandising counter, Massimo had, within few months, climbed all the positions in its unit, becoming responsible for stock management. Then, almost one year later, he was offered a job at Club Med, the biggest French tour operator, where he now has an opportunity for further professional development.
Thanks to the support offered by EURES in Sicily, many local unemployed youths are discovering multiple job prospects. For many of them, just like Massimo, they are securing jobs which match their professional aspirations and which propel them to even greater opportunities.