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The most important qualification for working in Italy is the ability to speak Italian (see Language on page 49 and Language Schools on page 191). Once you've overcome this hurdle you should establish whether your trade or professional qualifications and experience are recognised in Italy. If you aren't experienced, Italian employers expect studies to be in a relevant subject and to have included work experience. Professional or trade qualifications are necessary to work in most fields in Italy and qualifications are also often needed to be self-employed or start a business. It isn't just a matter of hanging up a sign and waiting for the stampede of customers to your door. Many foreign artisans and traders are required to undergo a 'business' course before they can start work in Italy (see Self-Employment on page 41).

Under EU regulations, when a qualified professional from another European member state wishes to pursue his career in Italy or another member state, all qualifications and professional experience are to be taken into consideration. If the diplomas held are equivalent to those required under national legislation for working in a specified field, then a qualified professional is authorised to set up a practice. Italy defines the rules and regulations to be followed when setting up a practice and rights concerning trade unions, working conditions and employee contracts are the same as for Italian nationals. You must apply to the professional body for your profession for permission to set up a practice and to have your qualifications recognised.

Theoretically, qualifications recognised by professional and trade bodies in one EU country should be recognised in Italy. However, recognition varies from country to country and in some cases foreign qualifications aren't recognised by Italian employers or professional and trade associations. All academic qualifications should also be recognised, although they may be given less prominence than equivalent Italian qualifications, depending on the country and the educational establishment. A ruling by the European Court in 1992 declared that where EU examinations are of a similar standard with just certain areas of difference, then individuals should be required to take exams only in those particular areas. In some trades and professions, you must prove that you've been practising as a self-employed person for a certain period of time, generally five or six years.

In order to set up and operate a professional practice, you must produce (in Italian) a certificate of equivalence (certificato di equipollenza) document from the ministry concerned, stating that your qualifications are equivalent to Italian qualifications. You must provide evidence that you satisfy the requirements regarding character and repute, and have not been declared bankrupt. You need a residence permit (certificato di residenza ?see page 86), an identity document and proof of citizenship, and are informed within 30 days if further documents or evidence are required. In certain cases, you may be required to take an aptitude test or in exceptional cases undergo a period of training for up to three years. The recognition of your qualifications entitles you to register in the professional rolls and to practise your profession according to the requirements of the Italian state. If, however, your profession isn't regulated in Italy, you don't need to apply for recognition of your qualifications and can begin practising under the same conditions as Italian nationals.

Italy (and other EU states) may reserve certain posts for their nationals if the jobs involve the exercise of powers conferred by public law and the safeguarding of the general interests of the state or local authorities, for example, the diplomatic service, police, judiciary and the armed forces. However, most public sector jobs in the areas of health, education, the provision of commercial services and research for civil purposes are open to all EU nationals and aren't subject to any restrictions on the grounds of nationality. Access to public sector jobs varies from one country to another and you should contact the Italian authorities for information regarding specific jobs.

All EU member states publish occupation information sheets containing a common job description with a table of qualifications. These cover a large number of trades and are intended to help someone with the relevant qualifications look for a job in another EU country. You can obtain a direct comparison between any EU qualification and those recognised in Italy from the Italian branch of the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC). For information about equivalent academic and professional qualifications in Italy contact CIMEA, Fondazione Rui, Viale Ventuno Aprile, 36, 00162 Rome (06-8632 1281) or the Presidenza Consiglio Ministri, Ministerio Coordinamento Politiche Communitarie, Via Giardino Theodoli, 66, 00186 Rome (06-6779 5322).

In Britain, information about academic qualifications can be obtained from NARIC, ECCTIS, Oriel House, Oriel Road, Cheltenham, Glos. GL50 1XP (01242-260010, www.naric.org.uk ) and information about the recognition of professional qualifications from the Department of Trade and Industry, DTI Enquiry Unit, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET (020-7215 5000, www.dti.gov.uk ). You can also check whether trades and professions are officially recognised on the European Union website (http://citizens.eu.int ).

This excerpt has been republished with permission from Survival Books. Some of the information may apply to EU citizens only. If you would like to get the inside track on moving to Italy, pick up your copy of this great book by clicking here.


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