Where is the digital revolution of the Italian agricultural and food industry taking place? At school!

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The agricultural and food industry is one of the industries that has most developed in recent years, supported by the Internet of things and Artificial Intelligence: people are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of developing new skills and such awareness is shared and widespread upstream, at school.

Indeed, the number of Italian agricultural colleges that are gradually increasing students’ skills in a digitally oriented way, is on the rise. This trend, or anyhow this need, is reported in the study by the Digital Transformation Institute, the think-tank that studies the dynamics and logics of digital transformation, in collaboration with the Ciuffelli-Einaudi Institute of higher education of Todi, the oldest School of Agriculture in Italy, and with the national network of agricultural colleges.

According to the study, 84% of digital transformation projects carried out by agricultural colleges have been included in the Academic Programme and in the school/work alternating programme. The colleges that have not yet taken digital-oriented steps declare they are lagging behind due to the lack of either financial resources (62%) of organisational resources to manage them (43%). However, the value of technology investments is considered to be very important by 98% of respondents; 87% of them also think that the lack of digital skills is the reason for the general absence of skilled figures in the agricultural and food sector, especially as regards data management; lastly, 80% of the sample believe that the acquisition of digital skills, and their application, should be a training goal.

This progressive adaptation of digital skills should be beneficial especially to Italian small agricultural and food businesses, representing the majority in the country, which are still unprepared to fulfil digitization and data intelligence needs. According to Stefano Epifani, President of the Digital Transformation Institute, «the current digital transformation process is bound to bring about considerable changes to the reality of this industry, which not all companies are ready for and from which, rather, their distance is inversely proportional to their turnover. It is important for small agricultural and food companies to get ready for this change as if they were big players, capitalizing on people who, when adequately trained, will enter the labour world in a couple of years».