Digital, Italy lagging behind in training and only 46% adults with basic skills

The European House – Ambrosetti research presented in Cernobbio in collaboration with Philip Morris Italia

In the world it is ongoing a real industrial revolution caused by the entry of digital technologies in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. A revolution that presents numerous international leadership opportunities for Italy and its companies, but also multiple challenges to be responded to in a coordinated manner between institutions, companies and stakeholders. Above all, that of skills: a necessary element for companies to be competitive in increasingly dynamic markets and as a lever to ensure greater economic and social inclusion. This is the principle that guided the creation of the Studio “Towards a New Deal of Agricultural and Industrial Skills”, Developed by The European House – Ambrosetti in collaboration with Philip Morris Italia, presented today in the context of Forum of The European House – Ambrosettiin a press conference which was also attended by Marco Hannappel (President and CEO, Philip Morris Italy) and the Scientific Advisor and spokesperson for the initiative Claudio De Vincenti (President, Aeroporti di Roma).

The research aimed to define the elements for a New Deal of skills related to 4.0 technologies. In fact, Italy shows a strong delay in digital training, both with regard to incoming training and with regard to ongoing formation. This, however, in a context of rapid technological-productive transformation: a real new industrial revolution, which concerns both the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, with the introduction of digital technologies and automation in both sectors. The research then analyzed the main technological trends related to digitalization in manufacturing and agriculture to identify the related skills required, through an analysis and dialogue with companies, institutions and territories.

Italy is lagging behind on digital skills, both in terms of entry training and in terms of lifelong learning. THEThe country is 24th out of 27 in the European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index (Desi), with a particularly disappointing performance on the digital human capital front. The country’s digital lag is particularly strong in skills, where Italy ranks third from bottom in Europe with just 46% of the adult population with basic digital skills. The delay is confirmed by a number of other key indicators, including the number of graduates in ICT degree courses and Stem disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), with also a significant gender gap (only 17% of professionals Ict is woman).

The study highlighted some key points. Manufacturing and intelligent agriculture are an essential guideline for the success of the country: 97% of manufacturing companies and 98% of agricultural companies involved have implemented digitalization projects of production processes. Regarding 4.0 skills, farms are more satisfied than manufacturing companies for the level of skills developed by the school system, also for the importance of on-the-job training. This is highlighted by the survey which, involving more than 200 companies, shows that 54% of farms are satisfied with the skills of graduates and 48% with those of high school graduates. On the other hand, the results in the manufacturing sector are very different, where just 26% are satisfied with the skills of graduates and 40% with those of graduates.

Italy records a significant gap with international partners with respect to post-school and continuing technical training. On post-school technical training, the number of members of the Italian ITS system (recently renamed Its Academy) should grow 40 times to keep up with the German one. Furthermore, Italy is particularly weak with respect to continuous training, which represents a key element for maintaining high competitiveness in a context of rapid technological and industrial change.

The research mapped the key competencies for agriculture and smart manufacturing, identifying the priorities on which to invest for institutions and businesses. In particular, for intelligent agriculture, skills on sustainability, digital, communication and advanced technical skills are a priority. For manufacturing, on the other hand, advanced ICT skills, Ai and Machine learning, Data Science and Project management are a prioritywithout neglecting soft skills, such as multidisciplinarity and entrepreneurship.

The research initiative was led, in addition to the spokesperson Claudio De Vincenti, also by the scientific advisors Angelo Frascarelli, President, Ismea and Professor of Rural Economics and Estimation, University of Perugia, and Giorgio Ventre, Director of the Engineering Department Electrical and Information Technologies of Federico II and Scientific Director of the Ios Developer Academy of Naples. As part of the research work, intense work was carried out with stakeholders and institutions. In fact, about 25 heads of Ministries, Institutions, and Trade Associations were consulted through confidential meetings. In addition, 2 Working Tables were organized, one on the themes of intelligent manufacturing and one on that of intelligent agriculture, which involved 23 companies. Finally, it was launched a survey, which involved around 200 companies coming from the manufacturing and agro-industrial sectors – thanks to the support and involvement of Coldiretti – probing their expectations and guidelines on the development of skills related to Intelligent Manufacturing and Smart Agriculture “

Based on the perspectives provided by stakeholder engagement activities – surveys, confidential interviews and round tables, the 3 key proposals to launch the New Deal of skills for smart manufacturing and smart agriculture.

Proposal 1 provides for to restore centrality to technical-scientific education: provide coordination mechanisms between ITS and the University to combat early school leaving; provide for specific measures to stimulate the dissemination of technical and digital skills in the female population; investing in compulsory guidance starting from the third year of high school, involving universities and companies and working especially on girls, bringing them closer to the Stem world from the earliest levels of schooling; redefine the paths and programs of agricultural and agri-food institutes, favoring greater alignment with the needs of businesses through a screening of the professional figures needed in each specific territory; in line with the ITS reform just implemented, define the new technological areas around the 4 key skills for the farmer of the future: digital skills, advanced technical-scientific skills, sustainability skills, communication skills.

Proposal 2 provides for encourage continuous training: to establish ad hoc qualifications (eg: short Masters or Postgraduate Courses) to facilitate the exchange between the University and the business world; Strengthen the incentive mechanisms for participation in training courses not only for companies, but also for workers; Leverage existing best practices (eg Fund for the Contrast of Educational Poverty) to channel private resources and the third sector towards training; Redefine corporate training programs according to the 4 key competences identified and introduce mechanisms for monitoring the efficiency of individual programs; Encourage public-private collaboration in the development of skills, encouraging large companies and supply chain leaders to build training structures inspired by the most successful corporate academies; To create, through the role of the leader, production districts in which to encourage the participation of members in moments of training.

Proposal 3 provides for define concrete quantitative objectives on training 4.0 including: the reduction of at least one third of the Gap with Germany in the size of ITS, reaching about 200 thousand subscribers; in particular, through the strengthening of agri-food ITES, favoring the establishment of at least 1 agricultural ITS per Region (today 7 uncovered Regions) and increasing the total number of members. The increase in the number of students enrolled in engineering faculties by 85,000 units, in line with the best European performers; the reduction of the territorial and gender gap in digital skills by 50%. The identification of KPIs and critical factors that allow the scalability of best practices throughout the national territory.