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Guiding Books 3 December Dec 2018 0830 3 December 2018

The perfect gift this Christmas: ten books on the future of work

From the gig economy to industry 4.0, and interviews with major business leaders along the way: some useful tips for those who want to learn more

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If ever there were a good excuse to give books as gifts, Christmas is definitely one of the best. And maybe, by collecting these recently published books, reading them, or giving them to someone to read, it’s a good opportunity to learn more about how the work market is evolving. Here are our ten picks.

Con la cultura non si mangia. Falso! (“Culture won’t put food on the table. Wrong!”) Paola Dubini, professor of Economics at Bocconi University, debunks one of the most common myths about the world of culture, demonstrating how focusing on art, landscapes and beauty can help the economy to grow and create jobs (as well as providing services to citizens). Examples? Although we spend less than 0.3% of the State's budget on culture, it accounts for around 6% of our GDP. Not bad right? Just imagine what we could do if we upped our investments.

App economy. This book is written by Matteo Sarzana, CEO of Deliveroo Itala. Published by Egea, this isn’t a new release (it’s been around for a couple years), but it’s the perfect read right now as Deliveroo recently announced that it has reached 30 Italian cities with its delivery service, three years after arriving in the country. What does Deliveroo have to do with the app economy? Matteo Sarzana’s writing is perfect for those who want to understand the opportunities that the gig economy provides and to find solutions to the issues that it causes, from the precarious situation faced by riders to their safety on the streets.

Dove inizia il futuro (“Where does the future begin?”). The title of this book is an ambitious question that philosophy professor Philip Larrey attempts to answer for Mondadori. It deals with the complex theme of understanding the medium to long-term impact of society’s digital transformation. In search of answers to the question, Larrey includes testimonies from a number of insiders, including Sir Martin Sorrel, CEO of WPP, and Eric Schmidt, chief of ‘Alphabet’, Google’s parent company. It is pretty hard to go higher than that!

Il lavoro che serve. Persone nell'industria 4.0 (“The work we need. People in industry 4.0”). Guerini e Associati has published an excellent book by Annalisa Magone and Tatiana Mazali that explores the Italian experience of industry 4.0, including fear of change and awareness that, as advanced as they are, machines will always rely on human ingenuity. The challenge of the new industrial revolution therefore depends on the centrality of man—or rather people, to quote the title—and from here it begins to describe the Internet of things: stories, characters, voices, the most effective ways to interpret numerical and economic analysis, etc.

Soft Skills che generano valore (“Valuable soft skills”). We say it so often: qualifications and expertise are not enough; we need so-called soft skills as well. These are skills that help us help us to solve problems quickly, work in groups, manage teams, etc. (skills that you do not learn on a course or behind a school desk). If you want to learn more about the importance of these, this book, written by Marina Pezzoli for Franco Angeli, is very useful: By 2020, more than a third of soft skills that will be required for most jobs are not currently considered essential for companies. We need to understand what they are now so that we are ready.

Why not take advantage of the Christmas holidays and read a book that will help you understand the work market better?

L'inventalavoro. We have taken liberties with this book, written by Andrea Sartori for Morellini, because it came out in 2012. But it’s worth it! It details new professions emerging from the rubble left behind by many others made redundant during the recession. Mattress makers are not around anymore and video store jobs are dwindling, but, on the other, we now have personal shoppers, virtual secretaries, cake decorators, pet sitters and many more. Ingenious ways to reinvent yourself when times are tough.

La fabbrica connessa (“Connected manufacturing”). Dealing with industry 4.0 for Guerini e Associati, Luca Beltrametti, Nino Guarnacci and Nicola Intini mull over an aspect that is causing more and more people to struggle in Italy today: the digital transformation of small and medium-size companies. As this affects a vast majority of Italian companies, we have to start hoping for radical change that will benefit everyone, and not just the privileged few. By changing their thinking in an effective way, it can change the country.

Le riforme dimezzate (“Reforms split in half”). Marco Leonardi is no politician but he worked at the Palazzo Chigi for three years, dealing with employment. Today, he no longer works for the government or political parties and teaches at the University of Milan (which edited the book), so his vision can be considered secular. It is very useful for a better understanding of where we have gone in Italy over the past few years and how the decision-making process for reform works, with compromises between trade unions, political forces and insiders taken into consideration.

Modelli ed esperienze di welfare aziendale (Corporate welfare models and experiences). The title says it all: Corporate welfare is becoming more and more widespread in Italy and plays an important role in the well-being of workers and the inner working environment. William Chiaromonte and Maria Luisa Vallauri discuss this in their book for Giappichelli. In the first part of the book, they describe the regulatory framework and how this corporate practice is changing, while in the second part they focus on some specific cases related to Italian companies.

Il welfare del lavoro. Il ruolo dei servizi per l'impiego (“The welfare of work. The role of services in employment”). In recent years, we have heard more and more about job centres, with a particular focus on the possibility of reforms dealing with universal income. Whether we go down that route or not, it is still important to understand what job centres are for today, and how they must improve to offer a service that, if effective, could be a lifeline for our work market. Edited by Franco Angeli, this book with multiple authors makes things much clearer.

Happy reading!

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