Investing in skills for Italy’s agricultural and industrial growth | The European House - Ambrosetti

03 September 2022

Investing in skills for Italy’s agricultural and industrial growth

The study carried out in collaboration with Philip Morris Italy, presented on September 3, 2022 at the 48th Cernobbio Forum, shows that investing in skills may increase Italy's productivity in agriculture and industry.

Performance and issues of the Italian industrial sector

The manufacturing sector contributes to 16.4% of Italy’s added value, with about 245 billion euros registered in 2020. Italy is sixth in the world and second in Europe, after Germany, for manufacturing trade surplus, which amounts to 113 billion dollars.

The country is one of the major manufacturing powers in the world, but in the last 20 years it has registered an annual growth rate of 0.2% on average, between 6 and 9 times less than that of other large European countries, and the productivity gap has worsened by an average of 30% compared to benchmark countries (United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany).

A survey by The European House - Ambrosetti confirms the growing importance of Intelligent Manufacturing in the industrial sector, which in Italy is heading in the direction of industrial robotics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and Cloud and High Performance Computing.

The delay in the adoption of such technologies compromises the Italian leadership in the manufacturing sector, and the lack of adequate skills puts at risk the employment of many workers. The survey’s respondents stated that the limited availability of internal expertise is the main obstacle in the introduction of Intelligent Manufacturing projects: 87% lack professionals with IT skills and 49% lack project management skills.

Performance and issues of the Italian agriculture sector

Currently, with 36.4 billion euros, Italy is the second EU country for added value in the agricultural sector, second only to France. Compared to its European benchmarks, the Italian agricultural sector also has a lower environmental impact.

The real gap that the country must fill in this area, compared to European competitors, concerns the labor productivity. Agricultural productivity, that is the ratio of added value produced in relation to all employees, puts Italy in the thirteenth place in the EU, with just over 37 thousand euros of added value generated per employee.

Climate change, green transition, and growth population are the major global challenges impacting on the productivity of the agri-food chain, which have been significantly exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine war. In this context, Smart Agriculture (or Agriculture 4.0) is not just a solution, but a necessity. The application of sensors and robotics for the monitoring and management of cultivated fields may drastically reduce costs and energy of the production cycle, but requires specific skills that are still not sufficiently available in the country.

Therefore, action must be taken to compensate for the lack of skills in the sector and the low number of students enrolled in university courses in the agricultural field. Four key competences for the farmer and the farmer of the future have emerged from the discussion with stakeholders: sustainability, digital, communication, and advanced technical skills.

Download the Position Paper “Verso un New Deal delle competenze in ambito agricolo e industriale" (in Italian)