ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Pakistan to Italy, Jauhar Saleem on Saturday expressed the hope that Pakistan and Italy would soon sign a labour agreement, which would provide employment opportunities to Pakistan’s skilled labor in the potential Italian market. Documents are being exchanged between the two sides to finalize the labor agreement and positive news is expected soon, he said while talking to the media through video link from Rome. In a media talk, Jauhar Saleem informed that a draft agreement has been shared with the Italian side in March 2022 and negotiations are expected to commence soon. He said the labour agreement aims at providing comprehensive market access to Pakistani workers to the Italian labour market. Replying to a question, he said the embassy’s lobbying also helped in Pakistan being re-included in the Italian Seasonal Work Visa Program for 2021 and 2022, which would offer diverse opportunities to our workers in the agriculture and services sectors. Italy is expected to allow around seventy thousand seasonal workers from selected countries in 2022 to come to Italy for work, he said. Pakistani workers under Seasonal Work Visa Programme have started arriving in Italy in March 2022, he said. Italy has a huge demand for workers in the agriculture sector, hospitality services, construction, logistics, truck drivers and engineers and Information Technology (IT) Professionals. According to Confindustria, the largest employer association of Italy, there are around 193,000 vacancies available in the industrial sector. Confindustria is of the view that 45,000 jobs are expected to be available in the technology sector. There are estimates that around 200,000 Pakistanis are currently residing in Italy, he informed. The Ambassador said this number is continuously increasing and in 2020 the Pakistan Embassy facilitated the regularization of around 18000 undocumented Pakistanis workers by legalizing their stay in Italy through an Amnesty Scheme of the Italian Government. Italy, the third-largest economy of the EU, has a 25.9 million-strong labour force with a labour participation rate of 59%, He said. He said that its services sector employs 70.4% of the labour force whereas industry and agriculture attract 25.8 and 3.68% of the total labour force, respectively. He said Italy is facing the issue of an aging population hosting the second-largest old population in the world after Japan. Ambassador Jouhar said this signifies that Italy would continue to need immigrant workers in several sectors of its economy. In order to utilize this opportunity, Pakistan Embassy in Rome intensively engaged with the concerned Italian Authorities to explore opportunities of sourcing labour from the Pakistani, he informed. In 2021, the Italian side agreed in principle to negotiate a labour service agreement with Pakistan. Replying to another question, he said that some of the most in-demand positions will include software/app designers and developers, computer equipment designers and telecommunication systems designers. He said the ongoing pandemic has enhanced the demand for IT services. Pakistan Embassy Rome is promoting sourcing of IT and BPO ( Business Process Outsourcing) services from Pakistan and some Italian IT companies have shown keenness to invest in Pakistan`s IT sector, he said.