Work and its dynamics. The stories of those who seek and those who offer employment. The tools to get ahead in a market that often appears to be bogged down with bureaucracy, scams and lack of investment and yet is full of opportunities. These are, in a nutshell, the main topics of Il Posto Giusto, led by journalist Federico Ruffo and supported by the Ministry of Labor and Anpal (National Agency for Active Policies). Born in 1979, Ruffo is mainly known for his fieldwork for investigative broadcasts such as Presa Diretta and Report, before reaching the helm of the Rai 3 broadcast (broadcast every Sunday at 1 pm).
Federico, how was the program born and what are its objectives?
Actually the program already existed but it was called Occupati and it was one of the long running programs on Rai 3. In 2016 something needed to change: the audience had fallen somewhat and in general they were looking for a different cut, a change of pace to deal with the issue of work: a subject, I must say, quite boring from the very beginning. The network director Daria Bignardi contacted me at the time, but she didn't immediately convince me. I think I rejected the project three times because it didn't seem like the right fit for me. At the fourth proposal I gave in, we wanted to see how it was going. And contrary to what I believed, it has turned out to be a good experience so far: they gave us a free hand on how to structure the various episodes, also giving me the chance to keep carrying out my inquiries.
How has the relationship with Anpal and the Ministry of Labor been structured over time?
Luckily it is a very clear relationship, with very clear lines that leave the editorial line up to us. In this context, Anpal limits itself to informing us about the active policy measures that are periodically put in place and supports us in delving deeper, from week to week, into one of such policies, finding us contacts and stories to tell. In addition to this periodic collaboration, we meet at the beginning of the season, to understand if there are any changes to be made such as the introduction of new columns or the involvement of certain key figures; at the beginning of the month, to define the details of the four episodes that we will record; and at the end of the season, to take stock of how it went and to make some other changes to the transmission.
In terms of ratings, are you satisfied with the results achieved?
The main issue is the timeframe in which we go live: at 1.00 pm we are a little crushed by the newscasts or by in-depth programs such as Linea Verde and L’arca di Noè that have a very segmented and loyal audience. Despite this and without great revolutions, but by changing the language with which we deal with the subject of work, we have gained more than one share point, also thanks to some particularly heartfelt and effective episodes. The litmus test, however, are the replicas that, depending on the period of the year are on Sundays in the later evening time slots, which allow us to measure ourselves with different competitors. There we know how much we are worth. In general, however, we cannot complain: the Sunday morning audience is huge and our 3%, on balance, is worth 400 thousand viewers. And this is the real goal of the program: to reach as many interested people as possible, to help them understand how to find the right job.
Over time, work has changed. Some university faculties have become overcrowded and, at the same time, some occupations have been emptied of manpower. The main tragedy is that those jobs that gradually found it difficult to find employees required different specializations without being able to consider themselves inferior
From your particular observatory, how do you assess the mismatch between supply and demand that often takes over the pages of newspapers with lots of appeals from entrepreneurs who can’t find the workforce necessary to their business?
It is a situation that should not be underestimated. I believe that over time, as a country, we have not been able to harmonize training needs with productive needs. Let me explain: all of us rightly claim a higher social role, we want to study, graduate and become lawyers, journalists, and marketing experts. Over time, however, the world of work has changed. Some university faculties have become overcrowded and, at the same time, some occupations have been emptied of manpower. The main tragedy is that those jobs that gradually found it difficult to find employees required different specializations without being able to consider themselves inferior: finding an energy manager, a specialized welder or a traffic technician today does not mean finding them on the street. There are training courses such as Its that are a highly qualifying alternative to the faculties. From these schools, you can recruit workers that already have experience in the field.
So, how do you judge the current labor market?
I think there is a strong disconnect between aspirations and the reality of things. For this reason the message that an entrepreneur or an administrator should communicate to young people who choose the higher educational path should start from the awareness of the needs of the productive fabric. And this does not have to sound like an offense or a lack of respect for the legitimate expectations of a child or a parent. Perhaps we must learn that there are alternatives to classical universities and that they can lead to decent and sought after work. Take the example of Germany: heavy industry is doing well and those who work there are not exploited or underpaid, but are considered workers with a very specific professionalism.
We must learn that there are alternatives to classical universities and they can lead to decent and sought after jobs. Take the example of Germany: heavy industry is doing well and those who work there are not exploited or underpaid, but are considered workers with a very specific professionalism
Perhaps what scares us is the lack of awareness from a contractual and wage point of view regarding certain job positions. How do you deal with the topic in a TV program?
From this point of view, and as the program is structured, we limit ourselves to explaining how the new forms of contract work and which guarantees come with them. We try to give a map, a guide for orientation. The perception of contracts is absolutely uncertain. We have gone through a period in which work has changed very quickly and, perhaps, no one has warned us properly. So, now, when you hear about internships, those interested begin to pull their hair out without knowing that in reality it guarantees more rights than duties. Same thing if you think you are signing a permanent contract, without realizing that with the repealing of Article 18 the difference between that and a fixed-term contract has narrowed a lot.
And for those who want to start a career as a journalist?
The most honest thing to say is that it is an uphill road so it takes extreme determination and also the chance to afford this effort. Furthermore, the perception that people have today of the profession is really bad and this is a further difficulty.