We have been building the future of work for twenty years

The analysis of the path undertaken by ManpowerGroup since its arrival in Italy, looking at future challenges

We have been building the future of work for twenty years

If I had to make a picture to illustrate the first twenty years of ManpowerGroup in Italy, it would be this: three and a half million job contracts signed, over one and a half million people directed towards a career, and more than 500 thousand people trained. These are the figures achieved by ManpowerGroup in Italy, the outcome of a twenty-years-long engagement.

A commitment we carried out working in collaboration with over 100 thousand organizations, and which we wish to review on the occasion of the 20th anniversary from the company’s arrival in Italy. The aim is to study the changes that have occurred in the labour market and face the challenges of the next twenty years, which have already been triggered by digitization, artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Will the fourth industrial revolution increase jobs or unemployment rates? The truth is that we have to get ourselves ready.

The first twenty years of ManpowerGroup in Italy
A great deal has changed since the 23rd of December 1997, when ManpowerGroup was the first company to be authorized by the Ministry of Labour to operate as a temporary job recruiting agency. Today, in Italy, we have 230 offices and around 1800 employees. The group can count on 13 thousand clients every year, over 300 thousand contracts signed yearly and over 45 thousand people working every day.

Several significant steps marked this path. Just to mention one, in 2014 the group acted as the Official HR Premium Partner at Expo Milan 2015 (in the side photo). We selected over 600 workers for Expo 2015 S.p.A. and over 5 thousand professional figures on behalf of participating organizations and countries.

In the last twenty years, Manpower in Italy foreran the market trends, complied with the changes that have occurred and deeply renovated its operating strategy, embracing technological innovations. We pioneered in claiming for a culture of job flexibility, supporting companies and workers in understanding dynamics and technicalities, and promoting the building up of a system of legal protections and rights for temporary jobs.

We invested in innovation in order to keep up with the ever more sophisticated solutions requested by organizations, adapting our services and strategies meant for clients and candidates to the changes brought by digitization. A path undertaken by working closely with our clients, which we accompanied throughout their personal and professional growth, updating their skills and attracting the best talents. Manpower was indeed a pivotal figure in the historic change of the labour market.

The evolution of workers and sectors
This growth went alongside the evolution of workers and sectors over the last twenty years. Yesterday, 62% of workers were male and 38% female; today the latter have gone beyond 40%. Twenty years ago, 43,6% of workers were under 25 years-of-age, 40,8% between 25 and 35, 11% between 35 and 45 and merely 3,8% over 45. Today, there is a better balance among age ranges: 25,9% of workers are under 25, 32,5% are between 25 and 35, 22,8% are between 35 and 45 and 18,8% are over 45.

Traditional sectors, such as engineering and manufacturing industries, which used to hold the first positions in terms of numbers of signed contracts, have been overcome by service industry and trade. Through the study of data, it appears clearly that the manufacturing sector was among the first to be affected by new technologies. Between 1990 and 2014, the total number of employees in the sector dropped in many key countries, from Japan (-34%), to France (-33%), the United States (-31%) and Germany (-25%). At the same time, however, technological innovations improved working conditions inside factories and transformed technicians’ jobs inside industries.

Other fields underwent significant changes over these years, as in the case of the Legal sector, where an increasing number of legal cases are now managed online and artificial intelligence is exploited to produce legal reports. The consequences of digitization can also be seen in the Finance sector, where over 54% of old jobs are at risk, even if we see professional figures undergoing a change and moving towards profiles featuring different skills. Finally, the Retail and Administration sectors are also coming to terms with automation.

The next twenty years and the future challenges
Many more trailblazing changes await the world of work and are bound to have a strong impact particularly on underqualified and uneducated workers and women. At the same time, in the OCSE countries, the request for jobs featuring highest degrees of skills is growing fast. Organizations have to focus on continuing education to remain competitive and develop new skills, because new sectors, which we presently haven’t heard of, are bound to emerge.

We have extensively discussed this issue after the publication of the Skills Revolution Report, which was presented by ManpowerGroup at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year. The study highlighted that a true skills revolution is taking place, triggered by the increasing digitization introduced by the Forth Industrial Revolution and which might not have an immediate impact on employment. Indeed, Italy is among the countries that hold a positive view about this, considering that 83% of organizations are persuaded that digitization will eventually increase jobs. On the other side, technology will replace routine cognitive and manual activities. Creativity and flexibility will remain indispensable skills instead.

At the light of the ongoing revolution, we are even more confident that the continuing improvement of every individual is the key factor to social progress and economic development. Our commitment is to accompany and support the professional path of our candidates and workers, offering them our experience, education, strategies for developing future skills, more stimulating job opportunities, and, most of all, to inspire and support an attitude towards continuing improvement.

The conference for the presentation of the project

The projects underway
For this reason, the skills revolution is an inevitable choice. To this effect, last year ManpowerGroup launched the PowerYou Digital project, an e-learning platform devoted to the eight key skills outlined by the European Commission to integrate school education with the mostly requested skills in the labour market. Once again, it is from education that we need to begin in order to provide future generations with an adequate training. It is not by chance that Switzerland and Austria, which hold a well-advanced educational system, responded better to the requests of a deeply-changed labour market.

Several other projects were promoted by Manpower over these years, aiming at training young people and professionals to face the challenges of the labour market, supplying counselling and skills development facilities. I would like to mention Young Talent in Action, which has been providing counselling and training to hundreds of boys and girls all over Italy in the last five years, and which is going to focus even more on digital jobs. The MotorSport Academy, the Experis’ pride and joy, which has now reached its third edition, is also worth mentioning. It trains technicians and specialised engineers working for leading companies in the MotorSport sector. We will keep working on these solid foundations, building a path for our candidates and workers. Shortly, we will launch the new project MyPath, which aims to help people choosing their professional path, supporting skills development and supplying a qualified educational offer.

This anniversary, therefore, is the occasion not only to illustrate the changes that have occurred in the labour market and marked the evolution of Manpower itself, but also to think about the new challenges awaiting us in the next twenty years, which have already been triggered by digitization, artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Manpower is there, with a strong commitment: #AlwaysImprove

(Translated by Cecilia Braghin)


Stefano Scabbio

Stefano Scabbio Presidente Area Mediterranea, Europa del Nord e Orientale di ManpowerGroup e membro del Comitato esecutivo BAA dell’Università Bocconi con delega all’International Employability. Dal 2014 è alla presidenza di Assolavoro, l'Associazione Nazionale di Categoria delle Agenzie per il Lavoro (ApL)