Educational curricula are traditionally designed to train young people for the world of work. In that sense, education plays a fundamental role in determining new generations’ possibilities for future success. Thus, it is particularly important in this changing world that educational systems keep pace with the transformations taking place in the society, technology and careers. Given the rapidity of those transformations, it the educational experience can no longer be considered as having ended once one has joined the workforce – hence the need for lifelong learning. As much as it should not be surprising that many investment funds have recently identified training as a high profitability sector, it’s excessive financing must nevertheless be avoided in order to maintain stability and quality over time.
In a changing world, greater attention is being given to a person’s ability to interpret complex phenomena, which calls for interdisciplinary training. More support should be given to interdisciplinary doctoral programs such as the so-called “interdisciplinary workshops” recently introduced into the offerings of several of Italy’s top universities. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), while having proven especially useful in terms of training and ongoing updates, doubtful remains their capacity to contribute to enhancing interdisciplinarity, which benefits essentially from the direct interaction between professor and student.
In the particular case of Italy then, Upper Technical Institutes (ITSs) represent a promising opportunity to meet a substantial portion of the excess job demand, as well as to strengthen specialized technical profiles traditionally neglected by both the political class and by general perception. Especially encouraging is some recent sector reform legislation enacted this past July, as well as the focus on ITSs within the framework of the PNRR. Moreover, it would be advisable that not only the ordinary work force but also management be provided with a solid base in technical/specialistic knowledge.
Cooperation between public and private sectors and between academic and industrial spheres is also not to be underestimated; specifically, in terms of greater public/private synergy in drafting university curricula. The industrial doctorate is certainly a significant means both for mending the rift between knowledge and practice, as well as for harmonizing training objectives with the needs of the job market.
Future training approaches will have the task of guiding the new generations in their understanding of a complex world whose rapid evolution is going to require a continuing capacity for renewal and resolution. For instance, among the requirements of future technicians will be the ability to balance humans’ interaction with and substitution by machines; it is easy to appreciate, in terms of such issues, how dangerously limiting sector-exclusive skills can be. Finally, the need for the educational system to insist, from the elementary school level onward, on the overall development of cultivated persons. The goal is to form people, regardless of their specific specialization, that are capable of actively interpreting change as citizens and promoters of economic and social value, instead of simply passively adapting to it.