The target population of FORWORK is asylum-seeking individuals and refugees in the Italian region of Piedmont.
Applications for international protection in Italy are evaluated by territorial commissions. The process of granting humanitarian status and the residence permit, from the first application to the possible appeal, may take over two years. While the decision is pending applicants have the right to remain in the country and to work. Most of them are hosted the Centri di Accoglienza Straordinaria (CAS). In later stages of the application process, asylum seekers and refugees move to the Sistema di Protezione per titolari di protezione Internazionale e Minori stranieri non accompagnati (SIPROIMI – previously known as SPRAR), although this transition is not always guaranteed. Both types of centres are variable in size, and geographically dispersed. Net of a limited number of characteristics, the allocation to these centres is random.
The target population of FORWORK are asylum seekers hosted in the CAS. These are centres contracted by the Ministry of Interior and provide only basic services. The CAS system bears an increasing share of the burden on infrastructure and service. In 2017, when the FORWORK project has been designed, CAS hosted 137,745 asylum seekers. It follows that the great majority of asylum seekers in Italy are hosted in centres offering very limited opportunities for labour market integration. The complexity and protracted nature of this situation sets the coordination of activities in CAS as one of the most important policy challenges for the country.
The focus of FORWORK is on CAS of Piedmont, a large region in the North-West of the country. Piedmont ranks 2nd among Italian regions in terms of surface area, and 7th in terms of population (4.3 million, as of the end of 2019). GDP per capita in 2017 was 30,300 euros, just above the national average; the incidence of foreigners among residents is 9.6%, compared to a national average of 8.3%. In 2017, Piedmont hosted around 14,000 asylum seekers and refugees. In line with evidence from other countries and/or refugee waves, they were disproportionately young and male. The vast majority (13,000 individuals) were hosted in CAS. The reliance on CAS is the first important feature of the regional reception system. The second distinctive feature is an organizational model based on “diffused reception” across a large number of small centres – 736 in total. The average size of CAS in Piedmont is 17.1 refugees, compared to 24.8 at the national level.