Italians return to the land in their own version of the 'Great Resignation'

Former JP Morgan trader Andrea Tagliabue has inspired the move for many with his Banker's Jam start-up in Lombardy

After four years working as a trader in London for companies including JP Morgan, Andrea Tagliabue decided enough was enough. Now, the story of how he packed it in and returned to his native region of Lombardy, Italy, to create a new life closer to the land has inspired other Italians who want to move on from their jobs.

Mr Tagliabue, who taught himself to grow strawberries and used the skill to create the trendy Banker’s Jam spreads and juices business, has become an Italian media darling of late.

The former banker says he has been flooded with questions from fed-up employees – including some former colleagues in finance – who want to ditch their desk jobs and get their hands dirty.

More Italians than ever are rethinking their career and life goals. Echoing the "Great Resignation" in the US, workers in the country are quitting at record rates.

Voluntary resignations increased 85 per cent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the latest labour data shows.

The quit rate – voluntary resignations over total employees – rose to 2.12 per cent, the highest in at least five years, think tank found.

But the Italian resignation trend comes with a local twist, hearkening back to the country’s food-based culture and agrarian roots.

The number of farm businesses run by people under the age of 35 grew 14 per cent last year, lobbying group Coldiretti says, with the surge driven by entrepreneurs from other sectors getting into agriculture for the first time.

Mr Tagliabue, 33, was one of them. He set up Banker’s Jam in 2018.

“I told myself, enough with the stress, the crazy work hours. Now I work for myself and I can see the fruits of what I’m creating," he said.

While success stories such as Mr Tagliabue’s may have inspired more Italians to follow their dreams, the end of a temporary, pandemic-driven ban on dismissals could also have something to do with it.

At least some of the recent job exits may be “forced resignations” following the expiration of the ban, lavoce researcher Francesco Armillei said on the think tank’s website.

“But it could also be people who had an epiphany during the crisis," he said.

Updated: November 21st 2021, 1:35 PM