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Global emergencies, new jobs, new training

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  • 2 July 2023

        Global emergencies and historic changes have combined to challenge contemporary economies and societies at an increasingly rapid rate. The impact of this on the work world has been especially severe, and calls for increased adaptation. With the climate crisis, the digital transformation, shifting demographics, social inequality and the deterioration of educational and cultural models, not only is the productive fabric in need of an overhaul, but training must also be brought up to speed in order to prepare the workforce for a constantly changing scenario.

        Attention focused principally on the digital revolution and on the effects of technology’s exponential development on daily life. In particular, the rapid spread of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) applications is forcing a distinction between the areas where human skills can and should be enhanced and where, instead, artificial intelligence can successfully replace people. 

        The value of humans must therefore be maintained as central, offering training based on the fundamentals and supplemented by a capacity for “learning to learn” that hinges on critical thinking. Solid basic skills and an inclination for comprehending change and adapting rapidly represent a more effective arsenal than the hyperspecialized technical training currently on offer and, moreover, at risk of obsolescence. 

        Efforts however cannot be limited solely to the world of education, but call for new forms of collaboration that involves businesses, institutions, universities and the school system. The role of institutions at various levels is pivotal to addressing the glaring imbalances triggered by the recent emergencies and transformations. Most urgent is a new regulatory framework for the use of AI that accurately and clearly weighs its potential advantages and risks. The European AI Act offers an initial useful intervention but is not sufficient on its own.

        Economies must then be equipped to attract and retain talent with a view to generating that innovation essential to confronting today’s complex scenario. Italy has various weak points in this regard, represented by a net loss as talent goes looking for work abroad combined with the negative impact of the immigration influx, which will eventually raise major demographic issues. At the same time, Italy’s is among the European economies producing the lowest percentage of university graduates.

        Meeting the near and long-range challenges therefore means triggering a cultural revolution that involves the country’s entire range of human capital, from young trainees – and even more importantly, those in the NEET category – to workers in need of reskilling, as well as business persons who must understand the importance of promoting and attracting talent. Efforts must also not neglect the public administration in all its ramifications, which, with the contribution of the PNRR, are called upon to collaborate with the private sector and educational system to generate the creation of local knowledge and innovation hubs capable of facilitating Italy’s response to the rapid changes imposed by global crises.

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