“It is normal for there to be a gap between the skills companies need – skills increasingly oriented towards Industry 4.0 – and the skillsets available in the job market. Industry 4.0 introduces technologies that essentially redesign work processes.” Paola Fantini, a Jobs & Skills 4.0 specialist at the Industry 4.0 Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano, is not surprised – in fact, he’s optimistic: “Companies are increasingly requiring new skills in light of technologies that change traditional work processes. Although the idea of Industry 4.0 came about years ago, the real transformation has just begun and is spreading fast at a global level. This is because companies carefully evaluate investments and then begin to transform in the areas they predict will bring immediate return.”

It has been said that Italy is lacking skills, key competencies, and innovative approach to management. In addition, some say that overall, the country is behind when it comes to the integration of technology into social-industrial companies, with one of the oldest populations in Europe and general lack of confidence in technology. The image might seem bleak, but the reality isn’t so. Great progress has been made in the country when it comes to technology. According to a recent study conducted by Politecnico di Milano, the Italian Industry 4.0 is increasing and, with it, both the awareness of smart technologies and their use in the job market. The market for Industry 4.0 projects was valued between 2.3 and 2.4 billion euro in 2017, 84% of which went to Italian companies (and 16% of which being exports), representing an overall growth of 30% compared to 2016. The knowledge of the 4.0 Industry is growing, so much so that only 2.5% of companies are unaware of what it is and 55% have already integrated 4.0 solutions. Overall, companies have adopted 3.7 applications on average, mainly IoT and Analytics. In this context, the National Industry 4.0 2017-2020 Plan has had a strong impact. Conceived to provide support to Italian industry, the Plan provides innovative investments, enabling infrastructures, awareness and governance. According to research, knowledge of the Plan has increased since 2017 – between 84% and 92% – and that the incentives created have been accepted by companies. Given this, a transformation must also occur in the market of jobs and skills. Some argue that the lack of technical skills stems from the scarce enrollment of young people to scientific programs and the fact that the traditional training system does not respond to the needs of companies. “Some schools fully intend to listen to businesses to better understand their needs and therefore define outgoing profiles from these institutions. Universities and masters programs are even partnering with companies and other universities organizing courses to fill this gap.” And what about the rivalry between science and the humanities? “We need to focus on attracting students into ‘technical’ worlds, leaving them free to choose between social studies and the world of tech. We must be careful not not demonize the humanities. It is from the dialogue between disciplines that we obtain hybrid skills: the management engineer is one such figure born from the combination of engineering and management economics. The position is essentially the result of active dialogue and collaboration between two seemingly distant worlds.” This is even more true when we consider the last Wef projection on future requested skills: The projection states that “New Technology Specialist” will be one of the top ten needed positions in 2022. This highly requested hybrid figure is not strictly linked to technology, but rather finds its potential in a cross-disciplinary focus and knows how to effectively apply to the business. Beyond the measures that are being taken to increase the technical capacities of both businesses and their future employees, we must not forget the human aspect. “I strongly believe in the human factor of a company and it is important that there is an involvement of people with psychological, sociological and pedagogical support collaborating with the AI ​​or with a robot. Close collaboration is needed on many levels, from the political, the institutional to the research.”