The change of model involves promoting talent, knowledge and innovation, according to the experts at the forum organized by EL PAÍS and Siemens Spain
A dash of good ideas. Two grams of training. A handful of public-private collaboration and billions of euros that will give the seasoning. Finding the correct recipe for digital transformation is not an easy thing. Much less in a context of health and economic crisis, where the trial and error formula has little margin. At risk is the loss of a unique opportunity: to mutate the productive fabric of Spain. Because if this pandemic has made something clear, it is that the country needs to modernize its economy from head to toe or, rather, from the largest company to the smallest. It is not just about bringing them technological tools, but about encouraging innovation and supporting talent.
he challenge is titanic. The digital transformation, as well as the ecological transition, will pull the band in this way out of the crisis and in the years to come. “They are the ones that must define a more resistant, sustainable, competitive and also more inclusive and fair industrial and economic model,” said Carme Artigas, Secretary of State for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence, during a meeting organized by EL PAÍS and Siemens Spain, led out last Tuesday. To give life to this change, the Government has put on the table a manna of resources: 72,000 million euros from the European Union in non-reimbursable subsidies and 68,000 million more in credits. In total, 140,000 million in the next six years, of which 33% will go to issues related to digitization.
It is not just a question of money. For digitization to be successful, it is necessary to make a correct diagnosis and a correct choice of those projects that will benefit from the funds, said Miguel Ángel López, CEO of Siemens Spain, at the event entitled Keys and strategic investments for a Spain 5.0. For example, the country can bet on those industries where it is already a leader, such as the automotive industry, the food industry, the manufacture of machinery and capital goods or the aerospace, naval and pharmaceutical industries, highlights an analysis prepared by PwC and sponsored by Siemens , recently published. “You just have to take advantage of technological innovations to maintain and improve that position,” the study highlights. But maybe this is only part of the equation.
Because on the business map, SMEs are the majority: they represent 99% of the total number of companies registered in the country and 66% of national employment depends on them. This is where the word capillarity comes into play: the ability to nimbly reach the last corner of the productive fabric. “In Spain there are three million SMEs, of which 80% have less than five workers,” said Artigas. And that is where resources have to be brought together. Many companies, said the government representative, require technological tools. In other cases, training is necessary to continue underpinning the transformation. Other companies, the most technologically advanced ones, need much more financing to have an impact on the market. “Today we must already be investing in the business models of the future,” said Artigas.
For Antonio Garamendi, president of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE), the driving force of large companies will be decisive in bringing technology to SMEs . “If we focus on the value chain of the leading companies and industries, we will be able to reach smaller companies,” added López. In this definition of the roadmap towards a more digital business world, collaboration between the public and private sectors gains strength. “This is a collective challenge,” said Garamendi. “The Government has bet on it from the first moment,” added Artigas. The objective is to collect ideas and obtain all the information necessary to generate an impact on the economy. “That exercise in collective intelligence is worth it.”
The digital transformation also goes through a constant update in the contents and training plans, both in the academic and professional fields. The objective is that the new workers adapt to the needs and reality of the companies. In a society punished by inequality, under a 15% structural unemployment, training and learning in new digital skills is pressing. “Today, there is four times more demand than supply in technological jobs,” said Artigas. “We cannot allow it.”
The solution lies in schemes highly focused on learning in the workplace and training in new professional skills ( upskilling ) or a “retraining” or updating of existing ones ( reskilling ), highlights López. Its application, according to PwC’s analysis, would leave a trail of positive figures. For example, the massive professional upskilling of our workforce could induce a rise in wealth equivalent to 6.7% of GDP in 2030, according to PwC analysis. And not only that. It would also boost job creation with 220,000 new jobs. The time to act is now, says López: “It’s time to imagine, think big.”
“Spain can not only be a consumer of technology, we want to be creators,” said Carme Artigas, Secretary of State for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence. Digital talent exists. “Between Madrid and Barcelona alone there are some 4,000 consolidated start-ups,” added Miguel Ángel López, CEO of Siemens Spain. But sometimes, the resources to run these companies are not enough. “80% of Spanish venture capital only invests in the early stages and when the company needs that second round of investment, it no longer finds that financing in Spain and has to go to another country in Europe or to the United States,” Artigas said. To redress this problem, the government is preparing a public-private joint venture fund, which it hopes to launch next month.