Labor market: workers a scarce commodity in Italy

Entrepreneurs have been sounding the alarm for some time and now, as if to confirm past unsettling reports, new updated (and increasingly worrying) data come from a Confartigianato report: the number of vacant positions out of the total personnel hiring in July 2023 has reached 47.9%, compared to 40.3% the previous year. A phenomenon currently affecting the entire country (the record at a regional level goes to Trentino-Alto Adige, which records 61.6% hard-to-find personnel) and affects all work activities transversally. Among the many causes, the report highlights the lack of candidates (32.4% of the total) and their inadequate preparation (10.8% of the total). And it is precisely the skill mismatch between the job candidates and the actual needs of companies – at global level - one of the most worrying factors for economic and production stability worldwide. Technology, industry and - consequently – the labour world is evolving with unprecedented speed in history: reports on new professions, on short- and medium-term trends are multiplying, and what emerges almost unanimously is the fact that among the most requested professional figures in five years' time, we find specialists that, truth be told, do not yet exist. “We need economic and cultural policies aimed at bringing schools closer to the professional environment, able to train young people with academic programs designed to relaunch professional institutes and technical institutes, investing in skills, first and foremost digital knowhow, and on school-work alternation and qualified apprenticeships”, comments Marco Granelli, president of Confartigianato. “Young people need to be taught that in the business world they can find adequately paid opportunities, to realize their talent, their ambitions, to build their future”, concludes Granelli. The natural response to these needs seems to come from ITS schools - Higher Technical Institutes, non-university post-diploma training courses, created in collaboration with companies, with the precise goal of training young professionals with highly specialized skills and knowledge, immediately usable in the professional environment. Currently there are 104 ITS throughout Italy, which operate in around 6 technological paths considered crucial for the future development of the national industry (Energy efficiency, Sustainable mobility, New technologies of life, New technologies for Made in Italy - which in turn includes five different academic paths -, Innovative technologies for cultural heritage and activities - Tourism, Information and communication technologies) and, according to the data published on the official website, boast 80% of students employed within one year from graduation. On the other hand, even universities are proving sensitive to these issues: the case of Emilia-Romagna is emblematic, where 2021 saw the creation of the University Foundation for Career Guidance, once again in close collaboration with the business world, with the aim of promoting and supporting Bachelor courses in the various Regional universities (which include, among others, a course in Mechatronics, activated by the University of Bologna, one in Technologies for the digital industry , at the University of Ferrara, as well as Technologies for intelligent industry, now active at the University of Modena). These bachelor’s degree courses last three years and are structured between classroom training, laboratory training and internship activities in the company. There remains an important issue to be resolved: the so-called NEETs (acronym for Not in Education, Employment or Training), people between 15 and 29 years old who are not studying, not working and are not included in any training programme. According to ISTAT data, in Italy these amount to around 1.7 million. On this issue, Granelli, president of Confartigianato concludes: “At this rate, we are putting the future of Made in Italy at risk. This is why the debate on minimum wages and underpaid jobs needs to expand and urgently address the country's real problem: the creation of quality jobs."