In 2014, in Italy there were 93.715 refugees and 45.749 asylum seekers. In the EU, Italy is one of the biggest recipients of refugees after Germany and Sweden. Last year the asylum requests were 64.625 and, in the first six month of 2015, they were 30.535. At the end of 2014, 3.640 people obtained the refugee status and 16.940 other kind of international protection (UNHCR, Dossier statistico immigrazione 2015, Centro studi e ricerche Idos). There are not detailed data on the presence of refugees in Rome but, taking in consideration all the refugees living in a shelter centres and the ones living in private accommodation, they are about 10.000. More detailed data are available on the refugees and asylum seekers hosted by Rome Municipality in its shelter centre. In 2014 the foreign citizens hosted by the System of Protection for Asylum Seekers and Refugees (SPRAR) in Rome were 3.627, of which 2.866 were refugees or holders of subsidiary or humanitarian protection. The Italian Government enlarged the reception system two years ago and this enlargement increased the number of places available in Rome from 150 to 3.000.

The main challenge to be addressed immediately, in order to support the social inclusion of the refugees hosted by centres, is the creation of opportunities of training and access to the labour market. The main tools to facilitate the access to the labour market in Italy are internships and job placements.

The collaboration between non-profit and for profit organisations as well as collaboration between the private sector (profit and non-profit) and public authorities is a crucial point. Non-profit organizations involved in these issues have to enlarge their collaboration with private companies in order to understand what these need regarding the manpower, to arrange training courses for refugees and to create opportunities of internship. The local institution could facilitate this collaboration by:

  1. Creating space for exchange and discussion between local actors (profit, non-profit, institutions);
  2. Allocating more resources on the access into the labour market and not only on the reception system;
  3. Facilitating courses addressed to social professionals in order to give them the tools and competences necessary to manage the vulnerability of the refugees.

In a longer term the main challenge to be addressed is to support access to housing for refugees. In the last two years a new phenomenon is increasing: citizens who want to share their private apartments and their daily life with refugees. This phenomenon has to be managed by non-profit organizations with the support of local institutions by the development of a methodology which can support the step by step access of refugees to housing. Non-profit organizations could manage the entire path (selections of refugees and private citizens, creation of occasions for the socialization between refugees and private citizens, monitoring of the co-housing experiences by tutors, creation of individual projects for the social inclusion of refugees involved). The local authorities could facilitate these experiences through:

  1. The creation of social campaign on this issue;
  2. The access of refugees to shelter system if the experiences do not work;
  3. The allocation of more resources on the access to the private housing.

Description of the initiative

Programma integra is a social cooperative which since 2005 deals with services and projects for the social inclusion of the refugees and holders of subsidiary or humanitarian protection hosted by Rome Municipality. It provides a range of services such as social and legal counselling, job orientation, counselling services, vocational training courses and Italian language courses, intercultural mediation initiatives, social mediation services in the field of housing and support to entrepreneurship. Such interventions are carried out by a team of social professionals through a modular and integrated approach. They identify an individually tailored set of services helping each beneficiary reaching his social and economic autonomy. The main services Programma integra offers to refugees and holders of other kind of international protections are:

  1. Social and legal counselling office. It provides information and support in relation to legislation and administrative procedures on asylum and immigration, locally available orientation services and access to social benefits;
  2. Job counselling office. It provides job orientation services, information on qualifications recognition, on starting a business and on locally available training opportunities, and resume writing support, promotion of apprenticeship.
  3. Counselling and social inclusion office. Open to all foreign citizens with greater integration problems, the office provides skills assessment tools and a network of local services which meet health and social needs of immigrants and refugees. The office also offers counselling services for those who have a feeling of existential uneasiness. Individual counselling services aim to promote human well-being and quality of life through the strengthening of human resources and a greater awareness;
  4. Social mediation services in the field of housing. It is a service aimed at asylum seekers and international protection beneficiaries who have been victims of discrimination in access to housing. This service provides support in the search of a house, contacts with real estate agents, and support in the signing of the lease.

All these services represent Programma integra’s methodology of intervention. In order to facilitate the access of refugees to the labour market the main services involved are the Job orientation service and the counselling office. The main elements of Programma integra’s methodology of intervention to facilitate the access of refugees to the labour market are:

  1. Organization of Italian language courses;
  2. Job orientation;
  3. Counselling and activities to improve refugees’ empowerment such as individual meeting or group activities to improve the self-confidence;
  4. Professional training courses especially in the touristic sector provided by VET organizations and Tourism Institute of Lazio Region (Ente Bilaterale del Turismo del Lazio). In Lazio Region and in Rome, tourism is the only sector with a medium employment rate. The main trained profiles are waiters, maids and assistant chefs;
  5. Scouting;
  6. Organization of professional internships in local companies such as Hotels of Rome, the franchise Restaurant Chef express, McDonald’s, Food farming, Large scale retail trade;
  7. Tutoring: individual meetings with the refugees, meetings with the company’s referent, visits at the company;
  8. Follow up.

In the last three years, in addition to this methodology of intervention, Programma integra developed a new experience to support the access of refugees to the labour market through the support of enterprises’ start-up managed by refugees. The methodology of intervention is composed by the following elements:

  1. Training course for business startup.
  2. Support to business startup through: the development of the business plan, support and assistance to set up the companies (legal, administrative, etc.), team building, assessment of the costs and delivery of funding for the startup (to buy the necessary products, tools, materials, etc.), support to communication and marketing activities.
  3. Social and psychological support. Such activities for beneficiaries as refugees are a crucial element.

Implementation of the initiative

Programma integra created a strong network of partners in order to facilitate the access of refugees to the labour market. The main partners involved are:

  • VET organizations and Tourism Institute of Lazio Region. Their role is to provide the training courses for refugees.
  • Private companies. Programma integra is working with big companies such as Hotels of Rome, McDonald’s, Chef Express restaurants. The collaboration with these companies allows refugees to experience an internship and give them the first access to the labour market.
  • Local administration. Programma integra cooperates with the Immigration office of Rome Municipality which manages the entire accommodation system for refugees of the city. Programma integra proposes its activities to the refugees hosted inside this accommodation system.
  • Non-profit organizations. Programma integra participates at European and National call for proposals on the social inclusion of refugees together with other non profit organizations. These organizations are involved in activities like: training, accommodation, research, social services.

Resources dedicated to the initiative

Financial sources

Overall budget: 2014 – 458 877,00 €

Main financial source: the Department of Social services – Rome Municipality, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Labour, Private Companies.

Human resources dedicated to the initiative

4 social workers, 1 coordinator, 1 project manager, 1 project officer, 1 communication officer, 2 administrative officers.


Number of refugees reached by the initiative: 361 asylum seekers and refugees in 2014 from the 2 866 refugees living inside a reception center of Rome Municipality

All the interventions realized by Programma integra’s services and projects are stored inside the company’s database. The database collects: service realized, numbers of interventions (how many meetings for each person by each service or project), type of permit of stay, nationality, age, gender, subject of the intervention.

In 2014, in the social inclusion Area, Programma integra achieved the following results:

  • 336 interventions;
  • 762 new beneficiaries reached; 361 were asylum seekers and refugees;
  • 261 interventions realized by the Job orientation services; 111 were asylum seekers and refugees;
  • 7 Training courses arranged;
  • 59 Professional internships organized;
  • 11 Contracts.

Critical success factors

  • Strong cooperation with private companies. This collaboration is the only way to give the refugees the opportunity to access into the labour market through the organization of internships.
  • Psychological support and counseling. Refugees are vulnerable persons and they need activities to improve their empowerment and self-confidence. This activity is crucial for the success of social inclusion projects and initiatives.
  • Training courses for social professionals who works inside shelter centers. Programma integra organizes courses to refresh competences of social professionals because their competences inside the shelter center can do the difference. If refugees receive a good orientation and information inside the shelter center, they have more opportunities to start a social inclusion program.

Biggest obstacles

External obstacles:

  • Lack of certifications of working activities carried out in the country of origin.
  • Diffidence of the employers regarding the real competences of the migrants/refugees workers.
  • Difficulty in the recognition of educational qualifications.
  • Lack of free professional training courses. The ones funded by Lazio Region are usually very long (1 year or more) and not useful for refugees.

Internal obstacle:

  • Availability of economic resource. The program and the projects Programma Integra participate in are funded on annual period, too short time to design an individual social inclusion project and to carry out the needed actions.