What we do for a living is often seen as a reflection of social stature. Pride can often play a key role in deciding what job we accept, what title we’re given, and what salary we are willing to agree to.
An example of this is playing out in Italy at the moment, where there is a shortage of pizza-makers because of the long hours, modest pay and pride. You see, being a pizza-maker is not something Italians aspire to, or want to admit doing. The Italian mindset is that being a pizza-maker is humiliating, as it is a manual labor job.
Like many parts of the world, Italy has seen a long recession and high unemployment, still, many Italians are too proud to spend long hours getting their hands dirty by stoking ovens and kneading dough—and being seen by their friends and family as low-class for accepting such a position. According to FIPE, an Italian business federation, the pizza sector is booming - and an estimated 6,000 new "pizzaioili" are needed to help make the three billion pizzas that Italians eat each year.
So, like many societies, Italy is turning to immigrants to fill the unwanted jobs—people who do not feel the social stigmas placed on the position, and are happy to make a good honest living.
According to The Daily Telegraph Egyptians have shown themselves to be particularly adept at mastering the art of the perfect pizza and now run many of the pizza restaurants and hole-in-the-wall takeaways in big cities like Rome, Milan and Turin.
"I would say about 80 per cent of Egyptians who come to work in Italy end up as pizza makers," Amadeo Al-Wikel, who emigrated from Cairo to Rome 12 years ago and now runs his own pizzeria on a street corner near Rome's Trevi Fountain, told The Daily Telegraph.
"We are good at it because we are prepared to work hard. Italians, in contrast, want a nice comfortable office job where they can work six hours a day, five days a week, in air-conditioning. They're not prepared to work 10, 12 hours a day." Alessandro Rossi, who runs another pizzeria in Rome, is also surprised that Italians refuse to take up an occupation that is part of their cultural DNA, especially as unemployment among young people has reached 35 per cent.
Image of young chef courtesy of Shutterstock