The lack of digital infrastructure and investment from both public and private sectors are some of the biggest hurdles to digitalisation in Italy. Yet, this study identifies a few solutions that can improve digitalisation and create new jobs in the country. Listed below are some solutions to these problems. Read on to learn more about digital skills and infrastructure in Italy. This article explores three major areas for digital transformation and how they can improve productivity and competitiveness. Discover more below:
Lack of digital infrastructure
Despite being a wealthy nation, Italy still ranks among the bottom performing nations when it comes to internet usage and skills. While this trend may not be as acute as in other countries, it still has significant implications for the nation’s economy. Italy’s working population is among the oldest in Europe, and the younger generation, referred to as “Millennials”, has not yet entered the job market. Despite their youth, they are inheriting a workplace set up around traditional practices.
The digital divide in Italy is a huge problem, as 69.5% of Italian households lacked access to fixed broadband in 2017. Furthermore, the country’s population is dispersed across a huge territory, with 55% of people living in towns with populations of fewer than 50,000. This geographical imbalance explains why Italy consistently scores low on measures of the Digital Economy and Society Index. This is particularly true for small towns and rural areas, where the percentage of households using fixed broadband services is significantly lower than the average across Europe.
The Italian government has recognized this problem and has launched a series of initiatives to improve the situation. In 2016, the government established the “Digital Transformation Team” tasked with building the operating system for the country. Three years later, the “Department for Digital Transformation” was created and approved by the Minister of Technology Innovation and Digitalization. As a result, the country has begun to move towards digitalization, focusing on the development of broadband infrastructure and 5G technology. The report also notes that Italy is third in Europe for mobile broadband coverage and fourth in 5G adoption.
Lack of digital investment by the government and private sector
Although Italy has a rapidly aging population and a low percentage of ICT graduates, it has not caught up with other countries. While its digital infrastructure is relatively well developed, it is also perceived to be lacking. Private and government investment in digital infrastructure is insufficient and the country’s education system is not sufficiently geared to prepare its citizens for the new digital world. This lack of investment in the digital economy may ultimately be detrimental to Italy’s competitiveness.
A recent survey found that only 59% of Italian executives planned to invest in digital technologies and customer support. Only 38% aimed to invest in digitalisation in production and product development. Just 18% of Italian executives intended to invest in talent management. This figure is significantly lower than the global average. In Italy, the private sector has been hesitant to make investments in digital technologies. Many Italian companies are small, family-owned, and lacking in digital transformation talent.
Italian executives are increasingly critical of the government’s ability to invest in digital infrastructure. While they think Italy is slightly ahead of most other European countries in terms of industry 4.0, four in five believe that it is far behind. In addition, 42 percent of executives feel that public and private investment in digital infrastructure is inadequate. Moreover, the government’s cash-strapped budget may hinder investment in the digital economy. Italy’s lack of digital capacity and restrictive legislative framework may make it difficult to implement new innovations.
Lack of digital skills
A recent report by the Luigi Einaudi Research and Documentation Centre and Intesa Sanpaolo outlines the growing digital skills gap in Italy. The report cites figures from the OECD showing that Italy is behind the average European country in terms of the level of digital skills among its workers. The lack of digital skills in Italy has a range of consequences for the economy, ranging from a lack of specialized IT skills to a mismatch between labour supply and demand in the digital sector.
In addition to an insufficient number of trained candidates, lack of training and insufficient infrastructure have contributed to this situation. Companies are unlikely to invest in digital skills training in order to attract candidates with desirable profiles. The problem is further compounded by the fact that the lack of skills among Italian youth is significantly higher than the rate of European children. This gap is exacerbated by a lack of digital citizenship, as only one in four young people have had any training in digital skills, while at the European level, the problem is improving.
The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) has published data highlighting the importance of digital skills to the economy. This index tracks the performance of Member States in the area of broadband connectivity, digital skills, and digital activities. By focusing on these indicators, the Digital Economy and Society Index indicates that Italy is 25th among 28 EU Member States. Only Romania, Greece, and Bulgaria are worse-off. The lack of digital skills is especially problematic in Italy, where more than 10 million people do not even use the internet.