Work: Dairy boss in Italy only hires employees over 60

When Roberto Brazzale talks about the new people in his large dairy business, he has a big smile on his face.

Work: Dairy boss in Italy only hires employees over 60

When Roberto Brazzale talks about the new people in his large dairy business, he has a big smile on his face. He describes the slightly different team that Brazzale has put together as a goldmine. The Italian, who runs one of the country's oldest dairies with his two brothers, is currently causing a stir with an unusual personnel decision. Because he only hires people over 60 years of age for a certain branch of the company. He is simply disappointed in the boys.

Some time ago Brazzale was looking for employees for a new project. In addition to traditional products such as classic butter and cheeses Mozzarella, Grana Padano and Scamorza, he wanted to market special gourmet butter products. In fact, he also had some people in their 30s on site to try out work. However, with disappointing results: they lacked drive and energy, he says. That's why ultimately only eight men and women aged 60 and over received the jobs.

“For me, they are all somehow young, because age counts for nothing compared to the enthusiasm and energy that you can still have when you are over 60,” says Brazzale in an interview with the German Press Agency. He runs the traditional company in Zanè in the northern Italian region of Veneto, known for its butter and cheese.

Brazzale: "You understood how important the work is"

He has never regretted his decision. On the contrary: his new employees bring a lot of energy, passion and, above all, experience. "They have a completely different experience than the young. They understand how important the work is. When you're young, you don't understand that - you only understand it later," said Brazzale, who is himself in his early 60s.

The new ones are mostly old acquaintances and friends who all know each other either from their school days or - in typical Italian style - from the central piazza of the 6,000-inhabitant community of Zanè in Veneto. After their youth, they took different paths. Sandro, for example, worked as a gold dealer, Sonia ran a restaurant with her husband for a long time.

“We are all friends and know each other well,” emphasizes Brazzale. "That's why there's a stronger team spirit." Today, the over-60 team at the main location in Zanè takes care of the marketing of special types of butter. Ugo, for example, drives a food truck and Sonia, with whom Brazzale used to skip school, takes care of the administration.

The ideal of a large family has become obsolete

What seems strange at first glance, however, has a serious background. Demographic change is putting strain on Italy and the population is shrinking. Current data from the statistics agency Istat is quite impressive: Births fell below the threshold of 400,000 for the first time since records began in the 19th century and are now at almost 393,000 in 2022. Italy simply has fewer and fewer "bambini" - and on top of that, the population is getting older. The ideal of a large family has now become obsolete in Italy.

Even Pope Francis was concerned about the low birth rate in Italy and throughout Europe. Some time ago he lamented a culture that valued pets over human children. Francis reported on a woman who wanted him to bless her dog - her "baby". “I had no patience and scolded the woman,” said the pontiff. In fact, Italy is considered a country of pets. Italy's right-wing government also wants to address the problem. There has even been a “birth minister” for more than a year.

Italian population is steadily declining

Specifically, the Istat numbers mean: seven newborns, but more than twelve deaths per 1,000 inhabitants. This trend will place a heavy burden on the economy in the long term. In general, the Italian population has been steadily declining since 2014. Italy can no longer even make it over the 60 million mark. The first consequences can be felt in schools and kindergartens, where there are fewer and fewer children. The education minister warned that the number of students would shrink by a million in the next decade.

All of this also worries Brazzale as an entrepreneur. According to him, a lot has also changed in terms of how older people see themselves. "The prejudice has developed that at 60 you no longer have anything to say. Or even that at this age you just want to retire. That's not true." Today's 60s are the new 40s, is one of his pithy sayings.

Brazzale is enthusiastic about his co-workers. And he never tires of emphasizing that he hardly knows any young people who have achieved as much as his over-60 team. But Brazzale doesn't know what will happen next in a few years when some of his employees retire. In any case, business is going well for the moment. He says: His employees are simply “bravissimi”.

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