Future’s professions require our Country to face and overcome the problems of education. From the digital divide to the poor knowledge of technologies applied to the world of finance, Emanuele Bajo, Scientific Director of BBS Full-time Master’s in Finance and Fintech, explains why “education must have a multi-disciplinary nature, and increasingly so in the future” in an article published by Digital Money of Milano Finanza.
The educational offer proposed by Italian universities and business schools in the financial sphere isn’t quantitatively or qualitatively inferior to what one may currently find in the main European countries. Furthermore, in the sector of post-graduate training, there are different programs related to the impact of the digital age and the transformation of the way of doing business determined by the rise of the digital itself. If we focus on financial technologies, there are several initiatives proposed by business schools. This demonstrates how good our Italian system is in adapting its offer to the disruptive emergence of Fintech, which is quickly changing the structure of the offer of financial products and services.
However, one may legitimately wonder whether, rather than a supply issue, there isn’t a problem of educational demand, or, in other words, of lack of awareness in our youths of the importance of these subjects. There is indeed a structural weakness in terms of the number of graduates or of people holding a Master’s degree in the financial field and even more so, in the management of new technologies. I believe that part of the problem is linked to a lower exposure of our young people to these two dimensions. Some data may help us to better understand the problem and its scope. Every three years, the OECD organizes a test called PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) addressed to fifteen-year-old students in high schools, to assess and compare, internationally, the level of knowledge in different fields, such as mathematics, sciences and, starting from the latest two editions, also financial literacy. Unfortunately, Italy constantly occupies the final positions in the subjects connected to financial and technology-related subject areas. As for science, in the latest edition, Italy only reached the penultimate position among European countries, just ahead of Greece. As for financial literacy, among the 20 countries included in the assessment, Italy ranked last in the world, in terms of expected result based on general reading and math skills.
Of course it’s not only a problem of basic training. To this we must add the issue of the so-called digital divide in which Italy is lagging far behind the rest of Europe. The percentage of the population with an Internet connection is definitely lower than in countries similar to us as Germany, France, or Spain; the percentage of fiber connection, meaning the broadband, accounts for only 7%, versus an OECD average of 28%. The pandemic caused a high acceleration in the use of digital technologies and in digital skills. As regards training, in a very short period of time, schools and universities went from teaching activities entirely in person to online classes; this forged the awareness that digital tools can’t replace the traditional face-to-face form of teaching, but also that it’s possible to complement and extend significantly the learning experience.
Once the health emergency is over, we won’t go back to the world we left, instead we’ll go to a different world in which the familiarity with the use of technologies will be much higher and the same will be for the expectation of a knowledgeable use of said technologies for education. It’ll be imperative for our youths to understand that education must have a multi-disciplinary nature, and increasingly so in the future. An ever-growing number of job vacancies in the labor market today hadn’t existed until a few years ago and many of the jobs of the near future don’t exist, yet. Being able to adapt to this ever-changing scenario requires a multi-disciplinary training that combines a sound financial expertise and a deep understanding of the way in which artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing, the Internet of Things and cybersecurity, to mention the most relevant new trends, can modify the DNA of finance.
In this framework, it’s necessary to intervene at the level of the entire system: investing in digital infrastructures, adjusting school syllabi increasing the number of hours devoted to subjects that prepare students for the new technologies and basic literacy and, of course, a further spur by universities and business schools in favor of a hybrid type of training, featuring finance and technology.