Relations between India and Italy are about to experience a new evolution in different sectors including metallurgy sector
By Pratap Aditya Mishra
Even at different levels and forums and through seminars and conferences, serious discussion are being held not only to embolden the relations in the existing areas, but also creating pathways to navigate through new domains. One of the leading associations which have taken the lead in this endeavour is Confindustria Alto Adriatico of the territories of Pordenone, Gorizia and Trieste and the driving force behind this, is Michelangelo Agrusti, longest serving President for nearly 12 years and still counting. Besides holding different prestigious positions, he was also a Member of the Italian Parliament in the X and XI Legislature.
The author along with Dr. Francesca Bruni, President Art Valley and Prof. Alberto Cavicchiolo, President Mill’s had a very focused and a meaningful discussion with Mr. Agrusti, President of this happening association to understand the most effective way to ensure that those who are and will be involved in, could benefit from this collaboration.
Mishra: You are the President of Confindustria Alto Adriatico (an Industrial Confederation in Northern Adriatic area of eastern Italy). Can you throw some light on your trade association?
Agrusti: Confiindustria Alto Adriatico came into being in 2020 on the impulse of the entrepreneurs of Trieste, Pordenone and Gorizia, three states in eastern Italy, through a process of unification between the territorial associations: Confindustria Venezia Giulia and Unione Industriali Pordenone. It is a project of unification of cultures and visions, economic and social, beyond the geographical borders, to contribute to the renewal of the territories and their economies.
It is an autonomous and independent entrepreneurial trade association, open to all those who conduct business and who want to grow together in an ethical and positive way. While on one side it protects the interests of small, medium and large companies and on the other it offers them consultancy services for business competitiveness.
At the centre of its activities are innovation and digital transformation, which it also promotes through collaborations with public administrations, organizations and other associations, trade unions, schools and universities, the world of research and technological development. We establish and maintain positive relationships with internal and external business and non-business stakeholders, including employees, businesses, governments, civil society actors and individual business experts. We create and maintain legitimacy and a social license to operate, design alliances, create proper Eco-system and shape as well as influence them.
Mishra: How do you see the growth and development of the Indo-Italian business relationship today and in the future?
Agrusti: I believe that our conference meeting puts a solid basis in order to build important relations between our territory, our industrial system and India, in particular with the State that you represented, Odisha.
We are interested in both economic and import-export relationships, but we are also interested in creating a connection between our educational systems.
We would like to pick Indian professional figures graduating in technical institutes. They should have high skills in engineering, mathematics, physics and software who can fulfil our urgent needs. We are working hard to ensure that young graduates coming here will have adequate logistics, so that they can be welcomed with dignity in our territories. Following the discussion that we had in the conference, we are taking steps to make sure that the valuable points are translated into a concrete program.
Mishra: Economy is on the rise, infrastructure in India is on the rise, so many new themes are coming in different sectors. How do you think Italy is going to have a meaningful collaboration with India?
Agrusti: The main sectors that can cooperate are the metallurgy sector, engineering, logistics, electronics, mechatronics, industry 4.0 technologies. Generally speaking, anything concerning the digital transformation of the industry.
Mishra: Let’s talk about Human Resources. Italy has a high demand in the technical area both for technicians and engineers. India has the ability to produce quality technicians and engineers. What kind of mechanism do you think we have to design so that both India and Italy will benefit in the long run along with the students and the industry?
Agrusti: A successful formula shall be to grant internships to final year students of universities in specific industries that we will identify. We may provide scholarships to facilitate the arrival and permanence of these students in our community.
Cavicchiolo: You are well aware of the sensitive problems of this matter. I am referring in particular to the fact that people do their internship, take advantage of it and then leave.
Agrusti: This is an industrial risk, a risk that we are willing to take. We believe that if young graduates coming here are able to join our companies at important levels and the conditions are in place to welcome them in their early days here with an adequate housing program, once they find their spots they will be just the same as all the other technicians and engineers already present in the area.
Mishra: Any international cooperation is in the mind?
Agrusti: Of course. We can also use funds from international cooperation. This is something we will be discussing with the foreign ministry and our ambassador in India.
Mishra: How do you ensure that the demand-supply balance is maintained in Italian industries?
Agrusti: We will try to investigate institutionally, but the absolute first thing to do is to understand the exact demand in this region for certain skills that are not covered by local personnel.
Bruni: The interesting aspect of the region represented by Dr. Mishra is that, in addition to being the richest in terms of mining, Odisha has good technical and secondary schools, colleges and institutes to the point that young people from other states go to study there. This could be very interesting because instead of getting lost in the large Indian cities, we can focus on Odisha as a starting point and then move to other states for sure.
Agrusti: I agree.
Mishra: The two prime ministers of Italy and India, Giorgia Meloni and Narendra Modi, have signed an agreement which is called “Strategic Partnership Agreement”. Now, it is the time for the business community and the media people to remind the government just not to keep this as a piece of paper. It should be reflected and be seen as something triggering the two countries to do something special.
Agrusti: What we have to do is pretty clear. We will discuss our modus operandi with regional and national public authorities. Now, we have to build an infrastructure for this operation. Starting from October 2023 we will work in order to create an operational protocol to make sure that between now and the end of the Indian academic year we have a proposal to present to you. This proposal has to cover all the topics we talked about earlier: logistics, housing, types of contracts and other related ones. We have to finalize and include all these elements in the Italian labour laws, which may not be an easy job. I look forward to seeing an emegent India with the clarion call given by Prime Minister Modi, i.e. Reform, Perform and Transform.
Mishra: Thank you all for your meaningful participation.
Dr. Pratap Aditya Mishra is the former Director General, Aluminium Association of India, presently Visiting Professor in the MBA Department of Utkal University, Bhubaneswar. A corporate trainer and advisor.