Digitalization and work, the OECD report: the importance of adult learning

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Digitalization, new technologies, globalisation and population ageing: the global labour market is facing many challenges and the skills required to keep pace are ever more complex and crucial. Although school education is essential to build the skills of the future, Italy has a long way to go, also on the adult learning front. This is certified by the OECD report specifically dedicated to our country: Adult Learning in Italy: what role for Training Funds?
 
As a result of the introduction of digital technologies, 15.2% of jobs have a high risk of automation, and a further 35.5% may experience significant changes to how they are performed. In this scenario, adults in Italy will have to keep their skills up to date throughout their career. We are talking about "ongoing training", a priority for the country which, however, is endorsed only by 20% of Italians adults (half the OECD average). A percentage that falls to 9.5% in case of low-skilled adults.  
 
The solution? According to the OECD, the solution is represented by a better use of Training Funds (Fondi Paritetici Interprofessionali Nazionali per la Formazione Continua) that are designed to encourage firms to train their workers and improve access to ongoing training. These funds are still hardly known in Italy and the training provided is not always aligned to the needs of the labour market: 30% of funded training is in occupational health and safety, a little more than 3% focuses on developing digital skills. The Report concludes with the recommendation to foster a learning culture, especially among SMEs; to align training to the skills needed; to enhance coordination among the various actors involved in the use of Funds; to ensure that Funds receive adequate funding.
 
However, not only "technical and IT skills” are needed: at  255hec, we believe that what is really missing in Italy - especially when talking about adult learning - are "soft skills": across-the-board skills, not of a technical nature but nonetheless essential to improve the quality of work in the new era of automation. This is confirmed by the Stanford Research Institute International:  75% of long-term job success depends on skills that are difficult to measure such as empathy, listening skills, the ability to negotiate and good communication, while only 25% on technical knowledge.