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The main training requirements of Italian agricultural mechanics

The thematic tables of the FederUnacoma Think Tank provided useful insights into the demand for training expressed by the agro-mechanical industry. The need for new skills is not always met by our training system, thus penalising the competitiveness of our companies

by the editorial staff
May - June 2024 | Back

Companies in the agro-mechanical sector, as well as those in related sectors, express a growing demand for highly specialised professional figures that, however, the Italian training system is not always able to express. The skills gap – these are the conclusions of the four thematic tables of the FederUnacoma Think Tank – therefore represents a risk factor for Italian companies, which must compete in increasingly competitive markets. Moreover, as has been observed during the work, the training deficit concerns areas that are particularly strategic for the activities of our industries, starting with the R&D area.

Table 1: innovative projects for technical departments. Technical skills remain one of the fundamental levers for the competitiveness of companies, which are highly motivated to hire young graduates and in any case coming from qualified educational backgrounds. However, this substantial correspondence between the demand for personnel and the availability of young talent interested in pursuing careers in the agro-mechanical industry is not sufficient to guarantee the sector a good generational change. Young people assigned to technical offices, i.e. machine design, quality monitoring, compliance with regulations, and research and development generally show - this emerged from the working group on new technical profiles, which had Paolo Gay of the University of Turin as expert and Alessio Bolognesi of the FederUnacoma Technical Service as moderator - a propensity to look for work in their region of residence or in the region where they completed their school and university studies. Young talents, however, tend to select those companies that can offer professional growth, i.e. that are strongly oriented towards product and process innovation. This orientation towards innovation is more evident in more structured business realities, and this risks penalising small and medium-sized enterprises in the recruitment of technical personnel, which, however, often have an urgent need to include new hires in operational functions, leaving less space for individual growth paths. Faced with this, agro-mechanical companies are starting to include innovative projects that are motivating for new recruits among the activities of their technical offices. The expectation for a structure such as AFI Accademia, therefore, is that it can prepare training courses aimed specifically at the needs of small and medium-sized companies, helping to define professional profiles that are strategic for them and at the same time interesting for the personnel hired in terms of self-learning and growth.

Table 2: new skills for internationality. The working table on the theme “Addressing foreign markets: specific methodologies and skills”, which had Maurizio Forte of ICE as expert and Fabio Ricci of FederUnacoma as moderator, highlighted the importance of training for all professionals who, in various capacities, deal with foreign markets, commercial transactions with various countries and international cooperation. In the current scenario, there are already training structures focused on the internationalisation of companies, and among these, the ICE Agency undoubtedly plays a leading role, having a specifically dedicated section, which over the years has developed a very wide offer, which includes both traditional techniques for approaching foreign markets and new methods based on the use of networks and digital marketing. Among the most interesting training proposals - it emerged in the working table - is that of the Corce program, Master in International Trade for young graduates promoted directly by the ICE Agency, focused on the figure of the Export Manager and on the skills that he must have in terms of planning and strategic development for internationalisation, management of legal aspects, transfer of goods, management of the economic-financial aspects of transactions, knowledge of the current geography of markets and development trends in different areas of the world. The working group hopes that the AFI will be able to find synergies with training realities such as those of ICE, preparing partnership programs that pay particular attention to some issues that the agro-mechanical sector perceives as strategic, first of all the sustainability of technologies as a key requirement for the competitiveness of Italian companies in foreign markets, secondly the application of artificial intelligence as a tool to better manage the many variables that determine competitiveness in foreign markets, and finally the approach to African markets, which today appear more promising than ever, but at the same time very diversified in terms of soil and climate characteristics, infrastructures, services and production models.

Table 3: from digital to trade fairs, the frontiers of marketing. The working table on “Marketing, Fairs and Media Relations, the New Challenges of Communication” – which saw the participation of David Jarach, of SDA Bocconi as expert and Giovanni Losavio of the FederUnacoma Communication Office as moderator – analysed the scenario of trade fair marketing, media relations and new communication challenges on a broad scale. Several critical issues emerged from the discussion, including the need to update our education system. Companies have in fact reported the difficulty of finding professional figures on the market who are suited to current needs, especially in the field of Data Analysis and strategic marketing. Some of the training needs are in fact linked to the need to manage highly innovative technological systems such as Artificial Intelligence applied to the analysis of markets and commercial dynamics. With regard in particular to the promotion and communication functions, the discussion highlighted how a part of the companies tend to outsource these activities, although maintaining control over the strategic and management elements, while another part of the companies prefer to keep all the activities related to marketing and communication “in house”, especially those that are based on the use of digital systems. A request for the future activities of the AFI Academy concerns precisely the growth of the skills of personnel who already work within companies in the marketing and communication sectors, with particular attention to trade fair activities. In fact, in terms of trade fair marketing, specific “skill” requirements and up-to-date professional figures have emerged, given the fact that the fair is considered by companies as the first form of investment for the business. This presupposes a greater involvement of the people in charge, who must recognise themselves in the values of the company, and must be able to transfer them following a logic of strengthening the company brand, and this also requires ad hoc training courses.

Table 4: human resources in business management. The working group on “Administrative Management and Organisational Structures: New Training Needs” – with Debora Giannini from the Guglielmo Tagliacarne Study Centre as expert and Alessandro Malavolti, past-president of FederUnacoma, as moderator – developed its analysis starting from the conviction that new business challenges require increasing investment in human capital. The new economic and commercial geography, the obligations related to the green transition and the digital transition, as well as regulatory changes, require specific skills and professional figures, and companies can respond to this need with the acquisition of specially selected figures, or with the preparation of training courses within companies, which increase their know-how and therefore their competitiveness. The comparison within the Think Tank was based on surveys and statistical data according to which the investments that companies make in human capital have significant returns in terms of productivity and turnover, and enhance the technological innovations that the company acquires. In addition to identifying the skills that best meet the management needs of companies, the analysis focused on the criteria currently adopted to improve and evaluate staff efficiency at various levels. However, even before considering evaluation methods - including the most innovative ones that use digital systems for measuring KPIs - companies consider it important to identify and share with employees concrete and realistic economic and organisational efficiency objectives. Also for these purposes, it is useful to undertake training courses that update administrative staff and company figures who are responsible for the management of human resources.


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