The demand to hire non-EU citizens for employment in Italy under the country's quota system outstripped the number of available places just one hour after online applications got underway on Monday/
The country received three times as many applications as stipulated in the decree on migration flows for this year.
Within an hour of making the online tool available, 238,335 applications had arrived, while the official quota provides for only 82,705 placements. The tool was completely overbooked on day one.
By the evening, there were more than 240,000 applications uploaded onto the digital platform.
Italy's agriculture in trouble
Labor Minister Elvira Calderone said the "government certainly cares about the issue, and we are looking at broader planning to understand whether we will have to intervene again."
The Coldiretti Farmers' association meanwhile called for another decree to allow new entry quotas, saying at least 100,000 workers were still missing to fill the labor shortage in agriculture.
"In the countryside with the arrival of spring, there is a need for at least 100,000 workers to fill the labor shortage that hit the countryside hard last year with the significant loss of crops," said Coldiretti President Ettore Prandini.
Regions suffering of labor shortages include Trentino and Veneto as well as Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lazio and Campania.
Minister Calderone added: We have too look at a more complex issue, the intersection between demand and offer for employment, which is obviously not only connected to the theme of migration and how to manage the employment of immigrants, but more in general to the integration of all those who are outside the (labor) market today."
She added that this might involve the possibility of "other forms of access to labor."
Many jobs available
The decree on migration flows for 2023, approved at the end of last year, included different types of workers such as farmhands, lorry drivers, construction workers and laborers in the hotel and tourism sectors, in addition to prospective employees in mechanics, telecommunications and shipbuilding.
All applications will be examined by the immigration office, 'Sportello Unico per l'Immigrazione.' At the end of the procedure, applications will be rejected or accepted, enabling workers to obtain an entry visa accordingly.
Calderone stressed that the "decree approved recently has a three-year program" and provides for "training in the countries of origin" of immigrants, "therefore the entry of workers who have already had initial training, which will then be consolidated in the context of businesses."
Not everyone included
Meanwhile, the situation has sparked a political controversy with the main opposition party, the Democratic Left (PD), accusing the government of short-sightedness, and of having "no sense of reality."
The union representing domestic employers also criticized the measure, noting that domestic workers were excluded from the program "due to lack of planning that has been going on for more than 12 years, and which is making figures like domestic workers and carers impossible to find."