In an attempt to regain ground in the race for digitalisation and the work of the future, for some time the Italian system has fielded the Its, the “istituti tecnici superiori” (higher technical institutes). These are organisations concerned with professional post-diploma education. A route parallel to university and still little known, but which can count on the support of Italian and foreign companies. Companies such as Schneider Electrics, leader in the digital transformation of automation and energy management, which together with the Lombardia Meccatronica higher technical institute of Sesto San Giovanni opened the Accademia “Its Smart Manufacturing Project” last March This is a pilot project on a national scale which involves a company and an Its in order to facilitate the creation of new high employment professional positions capable of guiding the digitalisation of the industrial world, thanks to skills which meet the new needs of the market.
In concrete terms, the cooperation between Schneider Electrics and Its Lombardia has led to the creation of a course lasting two months specifically for 50 young people between the ages of 20 and 25. «The training has been divided into two steps», explained Raffaele Crippa, director of Its Lombardia. «In the first phase the students participated in a single subject course on digitalisation and Industry 4.0. This was a kind of general and cultural introduction to the changes in progress lasting 25 hours. In the second phase instead, 25 of the 50 initial participants took part in a week of residential training in order to gain further insight into the subjects, acquiring confidence with the solutions and instruments of Schneider Electrics starting with a real case, the improvement of the performance of a biscuit factory. It was an experience that enabled two students to show off their talents and to be selected for an apprenticeship of 400 hours in the company».
Confindustria has issued an alarm: there is a shortfall of 280 thousand professionals for Industry 4.0. The sprint forward in technology has been so fast that training has not been able to keep up.
In the front line before the young people there have been managers and engineers from Schneider Electrics in order to add «a level of concrete contact with those who work day after day with Italian industrial companies», is a point stressed by Laura Bruni, director of institutional affairs and external relations of Schneider Electric. «This type of professional people and skills are in drastically short supply to the extent that at the beginning of May Confindustria sounded an alarm: There is a shortfall of 280 thousand professionals for Industry 4.0. The sprint forward in technology has been so fast that training has not been able to keep up».
This is why cooperation with leading companies in this innovation becomes essential. Especially with concerns that for some time have been aware that a direct commitment is the best solution for resolving the problem. «Schneider Electrics has a decade of experience in cooperation with schools and universities», said Bruni. «We are a partner with 300 institutes and by 2020 we are aiming to involve ten thousand students. For us this is an integral part of the company mission».
These are ambitious and qualifying objectives which however must find a place in a cultural context that has not yet become aware of the scope and importance of technical and technological training that keeps up with the times. «Compared to university education, the higher technical institutes still have a short background», said Crippa. «But once you know them, you don’t avoid them. Of course in Italy the weight of a qualification still makes the difference even if it is often not actually used in the situations and for the skills that it should certify. In this sense the higher technical institutes are more pragmatic: they make it possible to educate to the right point the human resources necessary without wasting time and effort in the company but assisting the organisation dealing with the question and providing adequate support». A virtuous process, which has repercussions on the entire industrial fabric from the SMEs to the multinationals.