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Best Practice 17 February Feb 2020 0715 17 February 2020

The booming corporate academies in SME: when talents are grown “at home”

According to the latest estimates, in Italy there are over 100 active academies. 95% of companies includes training activities, either technical or professional

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One of the assumptions necessary to start any conversation on the Italian economy, from tv debates to popular opinion, is that ours is a PME country. A powerhouse of companies that can count on anindividual turnover of under 50 million euro and employ 82% of workers. According to a Prometeia calculation, in 2017 there were 5.3 million of them in Italy, for a total turnover of 2,000 billion euro. The lowest common denominator: high level of specialization, services, market adaptability, and know-how that in some fields goes hand in hand with craftmanship. Qualities that require staff that is up to par. And they are worth the investment in training: corporate academies.

According to the latest estimates in Italy there are over 100 active academies (there were about 40 in 2015), many of which carry out courses only for internal staff to improve employees’ knowledge and strengthen corporate culture. So much so that the report that was presented at the latest Aidp (the Italian Association for Personnel management) congress centred around training processes, 95% of companies includes training activities, either technical or professional. In 36% of cases, the courses are open to people outside the company. All participants can count on the advantage of a strong connection with reality and a corporate strategy through which topics such as health and safety (75% of courses), soft skills (65%) and foreign languages (54%). Even in eLearning (52% of courses).

Various companies have chosen these solutions and some have made it into an actual business in itself. In January 2018 SedApta started a new academy in Sestri Levante, where the Polo Tecnologico dell’Universita’ is based and where SedApta commenced its operations in 2014. The aim is to become a continuous training hub tied to technological innovation, for post graduates and industrial operators. Aizoon, on the other hand, supports all the innovative activities in Piedmont, in the north west of the country: from the Polo Ict in Turin to the Cim 4.0 (competence centre of Piedmont). At its core, a counselling activity to increase the levels of digital security in eight business areas (from aerospace to finance and services). Finally Gruppo Fos plans and creates advanced training and technical specialization centred around operational innovation concepts. The latest news: a business unit created in January 2020 and devoted to managing energy, manufacturing and logistics plants. While in December 2019, 16 new technicians straight from the academy entered into service.

From fashion to food, to consumer electronics, various companies have been availing themselves of internal training to train retail salesmen, administrative management or professional pizza chefs.

Beyond technological know-how, the corporate academies also function on a strictly operative level. From fashion to food, to consumer electronics, various companies have been availing themselves of internal training to train retail salesmen, administrative management or professional pizza chefs. From fashion to food, to consumer electronics, brands like Pizzium and Alice Pizza, Gucci, Arcaplant and Unieuro are all examples of the same strategy: focusing on the training of employees.

For the two foodservice chains, the product is everything, and must maintain the same level of quality throughout all retail outlets. Hence the need to train kitchen staff to a certain standard. “We want the kids that are here with us to grow professionally learning the art of pizza making, on top of having good financial security through corporate welfare programs”, Giovanni “Nanni” Arbellini, co founder of Pizzium, says. Also Arcaplanet, the Italian pet store chain, trains its staff with internal courses: ArcaAcademy, a type of school that focuses on continuous and progressive training of staff with over 12,000 training hours. Created to train new staff, it carries on throughout the employee’s career. As for Gucci, already in 2018 they had launched the Scuola dei mestieri (École de l’amour). While Unieuro bets on “an intensive training project that aims at training future directors, as well as entrepreneurs and management of affiliate distributors that operate in the area under the Unieuro and Unieuro City brands”, Paolo Botticelli, human resources director of Unieuro explains.

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