Italy’s culture of entrepreneurship is among the world’s best, but to live up to this accolade doing things the way they have always been done is not enough – a cultural and industrial change of pace is required. With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, this has become even clearer. The A&T (Automation & Testing) International Trade Fair– dedicated to Innovation, Technologies and Skills 4.0 – aims to guide Italian companies, and SMEs in particular, in defining their future strategies with the support of data, trends and analyses. It also showcases real, tried and tested, high performance solutions and industrial innovation processes as well as training programmes focused on knowhow and managerial skills 4.0.
The 14th edition of the trade fair – held before the Covid-19 outbreak – organised an event in partnership with the Adecco Group on the topic “Skills in the digital age”.
The CEO of A&T, Luciano Malgaroli, made these introductory remarks: “We need to clearly understand the technological evolutions taking place in industrial production systems, as well as national and international developments and market trends. Only then will we be able to promote and boost the competitiveness of Italy’s enterprises – whether they be large, medium, small or micro. The greatest challenge for Italian companies is to find opportunities, answers and tailor-made solutions for their digital transformation because to digitalise, they need a new mindset and a new approach to work. This will enable them to successfully compete on a challenging market and stay ahead.” Today, as the huge impact of the virus is forcing every company to design new ways of working and manufacturing, this topic is no longer strategic, it is crucial.
“Looking around this fair, we can clearly see how fast technology is moving and just how much change is taking place,” points out Manlio Ciralli, Chief Sales, Branding & Innovation Officer at the Adecco Group Italy. “What is clear is that work is not the problem, work is not lacking. What we do lack are those skills that meet the demands of the labour market. The key topic here is employability.”
In Ciralli’s view “In Italy, 34% of jobs could be impacted by partial automation and 10% are at a high risk of being automated. This does not mean that jobs will be lost, but they will be very different. Oxford University has predicted that over the next five years, 9.5 million jobs will be created in Europe around IT and industry, but they will be in the fields of AI, coding and the Internet of Things. Worldwide we are talking about 57 million new jobs. These data show very clearly that Italy and its enterprises need to focus on human capital, on competitive human capital. For this to happen, we need to act in two areas: upskilling and reskilling. Anyone who wants to stay competitive on today’s job market really has to update their skills to stay relevant.”
Elena Berardi, HR International Business Partner at Quaker Houghton underlines the critical issues companies are facing: “I can identify with this situation. Our greatest difficulty is finding people on the current labour market who have the professional skills we need. We also have two big challenges: our timeframe for recruitment is five years. We know that beyond that time limit, people change in order to improve their qualifications. Then we have the problem of retention, our ability to attract and retain talents by creating an attractive and technologically innovative work environment. Gender is another issue, there are very few women in technical fields. It’s a question of education choices and culture.”
“I am firmly convinced that as companies we have to learn to develop our own talents instead of searching for them on the market,” is the opinion of Luca Ritondale, Head of Organisational Development and Human Resources at Sinelec – Gavio Group. “Too often we search for talents on the market when we could develop our own. But to be able to do that we have to be fully convinced and focus on developing training programmes for our employees. Setting up an in-house academy is the cornerstone for the future competitiveness of any enterprise.”
Francesco Manzini, Executive Director for Central and Northern Italy at Spring Professional, explains how “70% of our resources are specialised technical roles in engineering and IT. The search for talent is one of the biggest problems we currently face, because according to data from Unioncamere (Italian Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Crafts and Agriculture) between now and 2023 in Italy 2.5 million people will retire and will need to be replaced. This is a huge opportunity, but we need to make sure we seize it.”
To conclude Ciralli explains that “The concept of reskilling needs to be at the heart of Italy’s public and private strategies, and the same is true for education and the need to focus on a portfolio of skills. This means that many of today’s hard skills will be replaced by technology: it is vital for workers to know how to do a bit of everything and to equip themselves with a varied set of skills and experience.”