Italians looking for work in Albania - 19,000, says minister

Veliaj, things have changed. Many in call centers, restaurants

15 May, 14:15

    Italians working in call centers in Albania Italians working in call centers in Albania

    (ANSAmed) - ROME - More Italians are migrating to Albania to find work, according to the Albanian government. And Italian small and medium-sized companies aren't alone in looking for a fresh start across the Adriatic - graduates and youths without a degree are also migrating.

    Albanian Welfare and Youth Minister Erion Veliaj, who travelled to Rome on Thursday, said 19,000 Italians are regularly employed in the country in a number of sectors.

    Italians own restaurants and work in call centers, fashion, service and telecommunications as well as in energy and infrastructures.

    People are now migrating ''in the opposite direction, which shows that the wind is changing and represents a positive sign for European integration'', the minister, who travelled to Italy for a round of meetings including talks with Labour Minister Giuliano Poletti and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, told ANSA.

    Albania now represents a ''small America'' across the Adriatic, the welfare minister noted, where many Albanians who left choose to return and where EU citizens choose to move to find work.

    Twenty three years after the end of the regime, stressed Veliaj, the long transition experienced by Albania is proving fruitful. The economic and social context were also boosted by the government led by Socialist Edi Rama, which was sworn in last September. ''We want to bring Europe to Albania and not Albania to Europe'', said the minister. ''Our appetite for reforms will not stop with Brussels' decision to grant us the status of candidate''.

    The final verdict could come in June, but the Albanian government has decided to move forward, approving a number of thorny measures.

    As of June, the minister said, ''women will be paid subsidies and welfare rather than men''. The move is meant to enforce the role of women, who are financially more responsible than men ''who often gamble the money away before returning home'', he said. The decision ''was highly controversial but we succeeded in approving it'', added the minister.

    Veliaj last month announced at the labour fair in Tirana the creation of 6,000 new jobs ''thanks to transparency and by creating modern employment centers (better than Italian ones) which dialogue with each other and with various government offices and invest in training''. Those looking for a job ''turn to these centres and can receive a coupon which enables them to access free training courses''.

    Transparency in the labour market is also a way to fight corruption and cronyism, he said, ''which brings us back to the idea of meeting European standards''.

    Though the immigration trend has reversed over the past few years, the Albanian community in Italy remains significant with some 100,000 Albanians in schools, 12,000 university students and 38,000 self-employed workers - overall 500,000 people.

    And Veliaj means to address their future welfare and pensions in talks with Minister Poletti. ''So far there is no agreement between Rome and Tirana on welfare and pensions. For this reason, I would like to suggest to Poletti in our coming meeting to work on this''.

    Such a measure would be an advantage for both countries, concluded Veliaj though the cost of such an operation for Italy's collapsing pension system still needs to be defined.


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