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Agenzia Nazionale Politiche Attive del Lavoro European Commission

Storytelling, Biagio: “Tie your shoes well and leave!"

2914. These are the kilometers that Biagio has travelled to achieve his professional goal. Those that separate the place where he lived, the beautiful Sicily, the sun-kissed Mediterranean island that has all the wonders of the land and the sea, from the city of Varberg, with its sandy beaches, very crowded in summer, surrounded by a relaxing hilly landscape with lakes and forests, about 70 kilometers south of Göteborg, Sweden.

We reached Biagio by phone on his return to Italy from one of his trips to Scandinavia, now his promised land, ready to leave for a new professional adventure: "... during 2019, from May to November, I participated in the Project Your first EURES job for a semester, an experience – Biagio tells us – that deeply marked my professional destiny: I was a pizza maker in Sweden".

Biagio, who is now 32 years old, has in his pocket a master's degree in Geology, a science very dear to him, to which he has dedicated many years of study but also of a hard search for an adequate job opportunity that, unfortunately, never arrived: "... geology is a very underestimated discipline... loving the earth, also knowing how to read its history, understanding how everything has changed over time and how it will change, seemed my way. I have been looking for interesting professional opportunities for a long time, I have worked as a geologist in Tuscany, then in Trentino in a geo-mechanical laboratory with a part-time contract, I have looked for internships, I have tried to fit into various companies, but I have not achieved what I hoped, only unsatisfactory salaries, inadequate roles never corresponding to my degree, uninspiring work environments ...".

But what led this Italian geologist to be so far from home with his hands in the flour instead of analyzing water, soil and rocks? "After moving to Trento, I encountered great difficulties in becoming part of my work field, you were considered 'too old' or with 'too little professional experience' - continues Biagio – and this is why I decided to put to good use what had been my great passion since I was a child: cooking and, in particular, the preparation of handmade pizza. I invested my limited financial resources in this dream by enrolling in a course as pizza maker assistant. I attended the course with assiduousness, attention, committing myself to the maximum even during the training internship".

After the course Biagio resumed his job search activity, because, despite the many expectations, at that time in the area where he was staying there were no opportunities for a pizza chef with little experience: "I already knew the Project Your first EURES job, I have been told about it for the first time at the Employment Center in my province of origin, in Sicily. When I later moved to Trentino I always continued to look on the web portal for job opportunities, first as a geologist and then, after the course, as a pizza maker assistant, hoping to have more luck.

So, I got in touch with the EURES Consultant of the Autonomous Province of Trento, Laura Pitteri, who immediately supported me in the search for work. In particular, she introduced me to a colleague of hers from the EURES network in Sweden, Viktoria, who informed me of the ongoing research for a position as a pizza maker in a restaurant of a famous 5-star campsite in the Halland region (South-West Sweden). Thanks to her, I took an interview at the end of which I was offered a six-month contract."

After a long time Biagio remembers with gratitude the words of the EURES Consultant Laura who urged him to catch that opportunity: "... if you like this job, if you think this is your future, you have a chance to take your life into your own hands; it's time to be brave and have an experience that can open so many other doors for you. And so it was, I replied that I wanted to try - Biagio told us - and thanks to that first real and intense work experience I acquired the skills necessary to propose myself as a pizza maker also in other countries". Biagio's journey went far beyond this first contract. He found new opportunities by going to work in Norway, and then returning just these days, to work in his beloved Sweden.

“It was also a big surprise for me – Biagio confides to us – in a way I understood what I wanted to do while I was doing it. I left a profession, that of geologist, for a passion, that of pizza. When I was offered this first opportunity, I had no fear or uncertainty, being under 35 I fit perfectly into the profile of the ideal candidate for a project like Your first EURES job. Thanks to Your first EURES job, this long journey was less difficult: I was able to count on an "allowance relocation grant" and also an allowance as a contribution to travel and living expenses to make the interview (interview allowance).

Your first EURES job supports its participants with different benefits, participants may, for example, receive an allowance (on a flat-rate basis) to cover certain travel and stay expenses related to their transfer to the country of destination. In addition, as in the case of Biagio, when you are invited to a job interview to be held within one of the EU Member States + Iceland and Norway, you can claim an allowance (on a flat-rate basis) as a contribution for travel and living expenses. In other cases, a supplementary interview allowance is also provided for those who have specific difficulties in moving to the host Member State. 

"The first two weeks of work in Sweden - continues Biagio – were focused on training; I met my colleagues with a somewhat "different" concept of pizza! I have made new friends, not only with Swedes but also with various professionals from all over Europe, and I have established an excellent relationship with employers who have always been very reliable and very kind towards me. I lived my experience intensely and with a great desire to learn, just to get what I had always missed, that is, a solid and demonstrable experience in my curriculum. My story was also presented within an event about some European mobility projects: the EURES Network Consultant Viktoria kindly invited me as a testimonial".

Biagio, after his first six-month experience, returned to Italy for a short time and then left for Norway with a suitcase full of winter clothes. In this land, extremely different from Sicily, he continued to work and improve himself as a pizza maker until the health emergency broke out.

"What is professional satisfaction for me today?  - tells us at the end of our long conversation – to see happy customers who appreciate my pizzas! I am a pizza maker proud of this extraordinary product of the Italian tradition. Every day I can perfect my profession even if I feel I still have a lot to learn. I mean, I'm doing fine... I'm happy! To young people who wish to have a mobility experience I suggest thinking if they really desire to make that trip ... it is something that a person must feel inwardly ... there can be no only professional motivation. In addition, for professions such as pizza makers it is advisable to know the English language well and it is essential to make yourself available to the team with humility and determination".

Biagio – who in these days is once again leaving for Scandinavia, to play a role of responsibility in the field of catering – greets us by thanking the Project Your first EURES job and all the people who helped him in his professional rebirth: "I can say that I was ready to live this experience, I just lacked the spark to leave. Today I am more determined than ever to stay in Sweden for a long time: among my short-term projects is to follow the Swedish For Immigrants (SFI) school. What do I recommend? All you have to do is just tie your shoes well, have self-confidence and leave!"

In the picture, Varberg, Sweden.

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