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Challenges for Italy’s foremost industries: innovation and sustainability

  • Meeting in digital format
  • 31 January 2022

        Italy’s 2021 economic recovery, an excellent sign for the future, was led especially by domestic consumption and other segments such as construction that enjoyed the benefits of fiscal incentives, and thus offers a good point of departure for 2022. This despite national and global level threats that include increased energy and raw materials prices, the slowdown triggered by the fourth pandemic wave, and bureaucratic snags that could obstruct the timely manufacture and consignment of the machinery needed for the digital transition. Both this latter concern and efforts toward greater sustainability pose the main challenges to high quality manufacturing in Italy. This concerns not only the traditional four sectors (apparel, furniture, agri-food and automation), but extends to new ones that have been showing steady export growth for years now, such as pharmaceuticals.

        Exports are a key factor to be considered in the new phase of recovery; although not crucial to the recent rise in GDP, they remain an element capable of ensuring wealth to Italy, which earned a positive ranking for the first time in 2021 despite a soaring public debt. Innovation and sustainability remain challenges that Italy will be able to meet with the support and good use of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan resources. Critical, in addition to rapid decision making and legislative streamlining, is the training of human capital. Italy’s vast national fabric of small and medium-sized enterprises must be capable of meeting rising global demand in the areas of digitization and sustainability with qualified personnel; indeed, some Italian productive sectors that have made advances in this sense have already reached a higher level of productivity than some other leading economies such as Germany.

        In brief, the ongoing robotization of Made in Italy manufacturing needs and will continue to call for increasingly qualified technicians and engineers. Meeting these needs and steering education, training and research in the right direction means creating opportunities capable of attracting substantial foreign investments. In this way, the energy and digital transitions will be able to offer prospects not only for generating wealth but also for the social well-being associated with putting the younger segment of the population to work.

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