“We replied that Ikea chooses people based on merit. There were four names on the list in his letter,” Ikea Italy spokesman Valerio di Bussolo told AFP.
The politician’s letter — written on headed paper — did not directly ask for the four to be hired but inquired as to the status of their applications.
“We get these requests quite regularly, particularly when a new store is opening. We’re talking about a politician in this case but we have also received recommendations from priests and bank managers,” di Bussolo said.
The Ikea branch opening near the town of Chieti has 220 vacancies and has already received 30,000 online applications, or around 136 applicants per job.
Italy’s economy entered recession in the second half of last year and the unemployment rate has reached a record high of 9.2 percent. Jobs with foreign companies and long-term contracts are particularly highly sought after.
Italians often resort to high-placed family members or acquaintances — sometimes referred to as “angels in paradise” — to help them get a job.
“Well done Ikea!” said Giampiero Riccardo, a coordinator for the centre-left Italy of Values party, who initially alerted Italian media to the case.
“Job recommendations slow social mobility and increase inefficiency.”