PEOPLE | Aug 9, 2019

Innovation calls for training: an interview with Claudio Biestro

What is the role of training and of human resources management in companies’ Digital Transformation processes? We discuss this with the HR Director of Engineering.

When we talk about innovation and the transformation of business processes, we cannot but talk of the key position that training and continuous updating hold. These are considered essential elements also by the latest report The future of Work by the World Economic Forum, both in order to improve the skills of the people working in the company, and to re-qualify those who find themselves carrying out a job which is not the one they were used to doing.

“Formarsi per non fermarsi (Never stop training)”, explains Claudio Biestro, HR Director of Engineering. “Ensuring that people who work in a company should acquire new knowledge and skills, in addition to constantly keep up to date, so that they do not find themselves outside the labor market, is not only a way to carry out complex projects, such as digital transformation ones, but also an excellent method to ensure that hired talents should remain”.

Guaranteeing that employees are trained in order to increase corporate well-being, which does not only consist in career opportunities and professional advancement or economic incentives, but also in being able to constantly measure oneself against a work and professional context which is undergoing a profound and constant change. “During 2018 alone – continues Biestro – the company provided 384 different training courses through our “Enrico Della Valle” IT & Management School, involving more than 4,800 people for a total of 16,300 days of courses provided. To these numbers we should also add distance learning with its 4,500 accesses to the e-learning platform and its 1,500 hours of webinars”.

Several reports, including from the Osservatorio sulle Competenze Digitali (Digital Skills Observatory), speak of a misalignment between supply and demand for ICT skills and professionals. What is the role of education?

“Recently, I think I see encouraging signs from the school system: they are trying to bridge the gap between the skills required by the world of work and high school. I have often found teachers who are open to listening, attentive towards adapting teaching programs which are not always in line with the updating requirements of a world whose speed of change is increasing. The school-work alternation experience is certainly positive, representing an important point of contact between the worlds of business and of education, with room for further improvement. The ties of cooperation and connection with universities are also being strengthened, considering that the university system represents an important catchment area from which new people and professional figures are acquired. Through career days (about 40, those in which we took part during 2018 and as many, at least, are envisaged for 2019) we try to come into contact with young talents to recruit them in the company: last year we hired about 900 people, with 40% of young people at their first experience after graduation or high school diploma”.

There is a lot of talk about training, but although we perceive the need, we know that Italian companies have a problem related to the low number of hours of training offered to employees. Why, in your opinion?

“We often hear that there is no training because there is a lack of economic resources, because there is no adequate funding or because there is a lack of time: in my opinion, this is an aspect of a cultural nature and of approaching people’s management and updating in a different manner, linked to the conviction that on-the-job training is enough. Not understanding the strategic nature of continuous training and refresher courses leads companies to jeopardize the development of their activities and, consequently, people’s jobs”.

Thanks also to the information available and to the possibility of using Big Data analysis, how difficult is it for a company nowadays to find “the right person” to hire?

“I would like to start by quoting a few numbers: in 2018 we received about 23,000 CVs and we carried out 6,000 interviews to choose the 900 new recruits. The projections of the data we have for 2019 suggest that this trend will continue. These figures show how much commitment and dedication there is behind the search for staff and new talent which can help our Group grow. The effort is remarkable, without a doubt, and although a first skimming is made thanks to the analysis of the information that candidates make available, we still like to look people in the face, talk to them, and not stop at the CV format or at some information taken from social networks. We could also use artificial intelligence for the selection (and it is not certain that in the future we, like other companies, will not use these techniques), of course, but we still prefer to seek out, through human contact, what I think a machine which is given data and experiences to chew on cannot find. At least, for the time being”.