Mattia Collini, University of Florence
Number1 Logistics Group, which is a logistics company that is active primarily in the food and grocery sector has been recently featured in national news outlets for being part of a successful programme which promotes the labour market integration of refugees. This programme, called “Next” (New Experiment for Training) provides training and mentoring for young refugees with the objective of achieving successful integration in the work environment and in society more broadly. Since it commenced in 2017, 220 refugees have participated in the “Next” programme. This project is run in cooperation with several Civil Society Organisations, including CIAC Onlus from Parma, - an organisation which has cooperated in the past with SIRIUS researchers – and religious associations. In its statement, the company provided both ethical and practical reasons to be actively involved in promoting the successful integration of Migrants, Refugees and Asylum applicants (MRAs) into the labour market. Indeed, in most of the wealthier regions in Italy, such as Emilia-Romagna, many economic sectors would simply collapse without the contribution of the migrant workforce, and the logistic sector is a prime example of this phenomenon, given that native workers tend to prefer alternative employment opportunities.
To sum up, this success story from Italy gives us at least two positive lessons: (1) the importance of creating effective partnerships between civil society, local administration, and private companies to provide viable opportunities for successful social, economic and cultural integration; (2) and it is also important to counter the increasingly dominant narrative that depicts migrants as an unnecessary burden for countries like Italy.
Indeed, it is uncommon in Italy to see private enterprises make clear statements in favour of the integration of migrants in the media; we shall thus welcome opportunities like this, and hope that such an example can soon be replicated by other companies. This would be instrumental to the creation of a critical mass that can reverse the current anti-migrant narrative, open up Italian business culture to the potential of MRAs, and in doing so promote a more fertile ground for successful labour market integration.
This blog was produced in response to a recent newspaper article in la repubblica: https://parma.repubblica.it/cronaca/2019/12/17/news/parma_number_one_punta_sull_integrazione_senza_migranti_logistica_al_collasso_-243699410/