How many times do we hear phrases such as “we need to attract (foreign) capital to grow the economy” or “our debt prevents us from investing in research and development”? Are we really sure that this is the metric needed to grow and innovate? The availability of capital? I have another point of view.
Why attracting capital is not the solution
It is true that capital is needed to invest in technology and infrastructure. But how to choose the most suitable technology for our needs? What technology allows me to be competitive on the market with respect to competitors? How to develop it as quickly and efficiently as possible?
To do this, you need talents, even before capital.
And where to find these talents? In the globalized world, our competitors, new solutions and new talents must be sought on a global scale.
An example? Professional football teams. How many players from the country of origin of the team in which they play do we find in the top 10 of European clubs? What was the percentage 30 years ago? To date, teams are finding new talents in previously unthinkable countries. And to weave them before others, so to perceive talent before others, you don’t need capital. You need to know how to recognize talent, in fact.
Another example? How many foreign students do we find in American universities and how many in Italian universities? American universities are able to attract talent from all over the world. Without going too far, the number of foreign students in English and German universities is also higher than in Italian universities.
My experience in Germany
Before moving to Spain to work as a freelancer, I was lucky enough to work for a few years in Germany and to come into contact with dynamic and stimulating realities in the field of research and manufacturing both in Germany and in England. Obviously I was not the only foreigner: in the Berlin plant there were more than 40 different nationalities and the official language was English. When I travelled to England it was not uncommon to interface with other Italians, Spaniards, Mexicans or French. When I then moved to a country in southern Germany, the team was made up of 15 people, of which an Italian (me), a French, a Chinese, a Russian, an Irish and an English, that is 40% of the team he was a foreigner.
One first question that came up to my mind was: is it possible that there are not enough talents in Germany? Moreover, their school and university system is among the first in Europe and probably in the world. So why “call” people from abroad?
First reason: for niche sectors, excellence must be sought on a global scale as far as possible.
Second reason: culture of diversity. Different experiences and cultures inevitably lead to an exchange of ideas that generates growth and innovation.
Why don't Italians abroad return to work in Italy?
In my experience working in Berlin I was in contact with many Italians who worked in my company, and many university mates currently working abroad, mainly in Northern European countries. Chatting with them, they all confirmed that in Italy you live well, there are loved ones, but working is difficult.
What are some good points in favor of working as an engineer in Germany?
- Work organization: working in a structured and organized manner simplifies activities and increases productivity;
- Wages: much more adequate;
- Mansionary: the roles and tasks are well defined, no one will ever ask you to do something more if not adequately rewarded;
- Work-life balance: you will hardly be required to take commanded holidays or indiscriminate overtime. The law provides for a maximum of 10 hours of work per day (breaks not included). Working long hours does not increase productivity, but increases the risk to the employee’s safety (even on the commute from work to home) and reduces employment. Making a career by working more than others would be like playing a football match to the bitter end until a team decides to stop due to too much fatigue. Bringing results in 8h (or less) is an indication of professionalism and efficiency.
- Flexibility: entry and exit are mostly flexible and the home office has been a consolidated practice for several years.
- Less Stress: Better organization, clear tasks, work-life balance and greater flexibility lead to work with less stress, therefore with greater efficiency and employee satisfaction.
How to attract talent
How many companies apply a model of this type in Italy? I hope many more than I have had direct or indirect experience.
Why should a talent choose Italy, if the working conditions are so different?
Coming to the point: what are the main barriers that prevent us from attracting talent? Here are some of them:
- Recognizing talent: knowing how to recognize talent is perhaps the hardest part. But talent often depends on corporate culture:
“Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb trees it will spend all its life believing that it is stupid” A. Einstein
- Adequate wages: too low compared to the European average;
- English language: the level of the English language is still far too low, especially at high levels. Without this minimum requirement, the talents will hardly arrive;
- Motivation and perspectives: exploit the skills and inventiveness of graduates, focus on young people, stimulate them and make them an active part in the corporate decision-making process. Supporting, investing in ongoing training. What if they then go away? What happens if we don’t invest in them, and then they stay?
- Work culture: working to work and not to achieve goals at the set time, work organization that leads to an increase in stress levels and therefore to reduce the employee’s working efficiency and effectiveness;
- Work-life balance: greater psychophysical well-being of the employee.
In my opinion, attracting talents before capital is the best way to sustainable economic growth. Capital is useless if we do not first have adequate talents to manage them. How to attract talent? A different working culture, more open and in tune with the globalized world in which we live, motivations and perspectives suited to the required talent, salaries in line with the European average, a working environment that can interact in English and adequate salaries are some key ideas to attract suitable talent to our country.
Change is difficult, changing culture even more, but the sooner we do it, the sooner we will all benefit.