The Challenges of 2023
The new year in the observations of Scientific Director Alfonso Molina
What are the challenges that we will face this year? A preview of the reflections of Alfonso Molina, FMD Scientific Director and Personal Chair in Technology Strategy at the University of Edinburgh, in the first issue of our newsletter.
WHAT I KNOW ABOUT 2023
Everything that will happen, in some way already has. Like light from stars that are light years away, the processes that will mark 2023 are the products of years and years of history. And while the grip of Covid is loosening, current affairs, which remain complex, unforeseeable and uncertain, are related to issues concerning the environment, the rise in poverty, migratory flux, and the rapid development of science and technology.
Italy, however, has an extraordinary opportunity thanks to the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) that could free existing energies, drive sustainable development, and provide general optimism, breaking the impasse of production, the GDP, the weight of bureaucracy, the job market, etc.
The smokescreen generated by taxes and excess regulations in Italy could be swiped away by the PNRR, which aims to mobilise resources with maximum efficiency to strategically impact the country. We all know that it is a unique opportunity that requires professionalism, experience, vision, courage, and integrity to collect the fruits of an innovative systemic change that will provide the younger generations with the future they deserve. We know that it will not be easy due to the weight of bureaucracy, corporativism, the cost of corruption and tax evasion, and a leadership that never proves united when confronted with the challenge of efficiently implementing the PNRR. A fruitful implementation of this resource by 2026 will require monitoring and adequate answers.
The condition of youth in Italy is not optimal due to a series of endemic problems, including unemployment, school dispersion, NEETs (youth who neither study nor work) and who will create an emergency for future pensions. If we add this issue to the average ageing of the population (In 2030, over-65s will be 25% of the Italian population; it currently stands at 23%) and the demographic drop (estimated population in Italy will be 48 million in 2100), it is clear that there is a desperate need to develop and apply policies to support youth: from education to employment and to help families and increase births. The progressive decrease of doctors, with thousands ready to retire over the next ten years who will not be replaced by others, will not help. How can we train the personnel that will be needed to manage increasingly sophisticated devices for medicine and diagnostics? These are strategic issues that need answers by the country’s leadership.
THE ROLE OF SCHOOL
Improving the level of education of youth will require innovating the system of Italian schooling and university to meet 21st century challenges, bridge the mismatch between education/training and employment opportunities, and simultaneously increasing the possibility of finding quality employment can drive the competitive impulse of the country. This is the key to facing the evolution of the working world. As has often been repeated, 65% of the children in school today will have a profession that does not exist yet. And it must be emphasized that the health sector, with its high rate of technological innovation, employs many women, a gender that is not equally represented, in general, in STEM fields.
So, if we had to identify a starting point from which to begin solving a series of complicated issues, it would the reformation of the educational system as a whole, both as a resource and as a starting point.