How Italian SMEs should evolve in a changing international market

Five areas of intervention identified by Confapi

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Claudia Astarita

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A study recently conducted by Confapi (the Confederation of Italian Small and Medium Enterprises, SMEs) has highlighted the challenges faced by Italian SMEs in a rapidly changing global market.

The study was based on a sample of 1500 companies associated with Confapi from the North to the South of Italy. The majority of the companies included in the study work in the mechanic sector (41%), followed by the manufacturing sector (11%), services (10%), textile industry and agri-food sector (8%), while a further 7% is active in the IT-graphic sector. With regard to the number of employees, 31% of the SMEs in the sample had between 16-49 people employed, 21% counted 11-15 workers and 17% had between 6-10 employees.

On this subject, 23% of interviewees declared themselves well aware of the strong competitiveness on international market and 21% complained about the lack of an adequate qualification of the company management. More dissatisfaction was expressed by a further 17% lamenting the lack of qualification of human resources and also by a shortage of public strategies to support Italian SMEs (12%).

Considering the training needs highlighted by the interviewees, the study identified five main areas of intervention. First, the relational area: Italian SMEs believe it is important to develop training courses and in a team perspective (41%) in order to better manage human resources (30%), strengthening negotiation ability (30%) and foster communication within the company (30%).

The second area of intervention is the managerial one; here the priority is to enhance the organizational skills of management (44%), to establish feasible goals (39%) and to face risks (33%).

With regard to the innovation area and ICT, training should be devoted to improve the adaptability to change (42%) and therefore to get the adequate know how of the informatic system for the management of the company (28%). The priorities identified in the fourth area administration, finance and control mostly concern the financial planning (41%) while in the fifth and last area (marketing and sales) it is essential to develop adequate marketing skills to support internationalization (40%).

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