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Uncertainty continues to prevail among Italy’s non-ferrous metals operators: not a day goes by that the LME does not make us despair at its astonishing jumps and rebounds. Meanwhile, the economic situation is truly complex as the protracted Ukraine conflict and commodity price tensions triggered by the gas crisis are freezing Italian industrial production which contracted by 2% in March and 2.5% in April.

Entrepreneurial sentiment and downsized order and business expectations do not imply a significant improvement in the short term despite the incurable optimism that has always distinguished the Italian people.

Increases in raw material prices and the scarcity of materials that hindered Italian production activity even before the Ukraine conflict have proved to be very significant; the perceived insufficiency of materials has definitely worsened. Opinions are still negative on exports and the percentage remains high of manufacturing firms reporting difficulties with higher costs and prices as well as longer delivery times, albeit to a lesser extent than in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Despite weaker economic growth, companies are planning over 444,000 hires in May. This gives us hope, despite 38.3% of the sought-after workers being confirmed as difficult to find mainly due to a lack of suitable candidates. The metallurgical and metal product industries are reported to be encountering considerable difficulties in finding 52.6% of the profiles sought.

However, there is good news: despite the pandemic and its consequences, 2021 was a golden year for female entrepreneurship. More and more women are either deciding to start their first business or are innovating with an existing one. This desire among women to engage in business was fuelled by the opening of the Fondo Impresa Donna last May. After having spoken about it on several occasions, the Ministry of Economic Development has finally made funds available from its famous Recovery Plan.