At a time of economic recession, further compounded by the revolution introduced by the Internet of Things, all the experts point to the importance of vocational training in remaining competitive and increasing productivity. However, despite government incentives, training is still struggling to get off the ground, and more for cultural than for economic reasons.
ISTAT has recently published a report on vocational training in Italian businesses, based on a comparison between 2015, 2010 and 2005 data. The survey reveals a positive trend: 60.2% of businesses with at least 10 employees carried out vocational training activities in 2015 (+5% compared to 2010, and as much as +28% compared to 2005). While the overall average figure is still low, peaks have been registered in specific areas. Indeed, 93.8% of companies in the financial services and insurance fields invest in corporate training. This figure falls to 90% in activities auxiliary to financial services and to 77.4% in utilities companies (water, electricity, gas).
However, in other sectors, training is sorely lagging behind: only 38% of catering and accommodation facilities carried out training activities in 2015; a figure that hardly changes in the textile and clothing industry and in retail trade (40% and 41% respectively).
The graph shows the percentage of companies that invested in employee training activities in 2015, split by industry. Source: ISTAT
74% of companies that do not carry out training activities believe their employees are already sufficiently qualified. “Only” 13% ascribe this choice to the high cost of training.
The area of most concern is the gap detected between large companies and small and medium-sized enterprises. ISTAT states that enterprises with at least 250 employees seek the most active training (90%), while smaller firms are less inclined to follow this trend, despite a marginally improved situation compared to 2010. An ad hoc analysis reveals that almost 80% of the employees of large companies (with at least 1000 employees) have followed training courses, while in firms with 10 to 19 employees, this figure barely exceeds 25%. The same trend can be seen when we examine the percentage of employees who have followed training courses in different sized companies. Once again, the difference between companies with at least 1,000 employees (in which 69% of employees has participated in training activities) and those with 10-19 employees (25.8%) is enormous.
The graph shows the percentage of employees who took part in training activities in 2010 and 2015, split by company size. An overall percentage increase has been registered over the period, but there is also an enormous and persistent difference between larger companies (in firms with at least 1000 employees, 69% of employees participated in training programs in 2015, compared to 61% in 2010) and smaller enterprises (in firms with 10-19 employees, 25% of employees participated in training programs in 2015, compared to 19% in 2010). Source: ISTAT
But why is that? One might think that the main reason is of an economic nature. The ISTAT report states that in 2015, Italian companies with at least 10 employees spent a total of €4.513mn on training, for an average hourly cost of around €57. Too high? Perhaps, but if we analyse the companies’ reasons for not investing in the advancement of their staff, we can see that 74% of enterprises believe their employees are already sufficiently qualified. Instead, “only” 13% ascribe this choice to the high cost of training.
At this point, it seems clear that government incentives need to go hand in hand with a change in mentality: companies need to understand that training is an investment, not an expense, and that absolutely no one can do without.