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Artisans: fewer and fewer young entrepreneurs

On the holders over 70 (+47%) down the under 30 (-42%) in ten years. In total, 170 thousand companies lost (-11.7%). Covid, only 1 out of 2 craftsmen counts on turnover by 2022. But those who innovate in digital improve future prospects.

Craft enterprises are decreasing, the entrepreneurial class is aging and is less confident about the future. But artisans 4.0 are more optimistic. Despite the fact that crafts account for 9.5% of GDP and represent 21.2% of companies, the craft of craftsmen is likely to attract fewer and fewer young people: in ten years 28 thousand companies under 30 have been lost, decreased by 41.9% compared to 2011. While the individual companies led by the over 70s have grown by 47%, with peaks that exceed 50% in the South.

The difficulty of generational change could put a strain on the future of artisan entrepreneurship that between March 2021 and March 2011 has already suffered an overall drop of 170 thousand units (-11.7%) bringing the total of artisan companies to 1.3 million. In particular, it is the single-party companies, which represent over 80% of the sector, that record greater losses (-12.1%). At the regional level, Abruzzo (-21%), Sardinia (-18%), Basilicata and Sicily (both recorded – 17%) are worse.

To give evidence is a study Unioncamere and InfoCamere on the evolution of individual artisan companies in the last 10 years, based on Movimprese, the statistical analysis of the Register of Companies of the Chambers of Commerce. Covid has weighed further on this situation. In 2020, 70% of craft businesses suffered a reduction in turnover compared to 63% of other companies. And also about the future craftsmen are very cautious. Only 54% expect to recover production levels within the next year, a share that drops to 46% for those artisan realities struggling with problems of generational transition.

This is revealed by a survey by the Centro Studi Tagliacarne according to which, however, investments in digitalization and green significantly increase the prospects of recovery by breaking down the distances with other companies: 63% of artisans who have invested in digital and 58% who have focused on sustainability expect to recover by 2022. The quality of the products remains, however, for the craft sector an essential factor of competition: 43% of craft enterprises rely exclusively on this lever to beat the competition, compared to 39% of the rest of the other companies. The sole proprietorship remains the preferred dimension of the artisans Even in the digital era, the profile of the craft enterprise remains strongly anchored to the individual dimension.

At the end of March this year, 77.7% of all craft enterprises operated in the simplest and least structured form, a percentage completely in line with that recorded ten years earlier (78.1%). From a territorial point of view, this connotation characterizes in particular the regions of the Centre-South, with Lazio in the lead (83.4%) followed by Campania and Puglia (83.3%) with Sicily and Sardinia closing the first five positions (respectively at 83 and 82.9%).

On the opposite side, the regions in which the percentage of individual craft enterprises is smaller are focused on the Centre-North-East: starting with the Marche (70.9%) to continue with Veneto (71.9%), Trentino-Alto Adige (72.1%), Umbria (72.4%) and, finally, Emilia-Romagna (74.6%). Among the sectors, the most populated by this legal form is that of Other service activities, in which the share of sole proprietorships reaches 87.3%. This was followed by Transport and storage (82.6%) and Construction (83.1%). Generational relay at risk: less than 1 young person under

30 for each over 70 ownerAnalyzing the progressive shift in the age of artisan business owners it emerges that if in 2011 for every entrepreneur over 70 there were at least two business owners under 30 ready to replace him, in 2021 this “replacement” between generations has fallen to less than one, except for the North West where the situation appears more balanced. The reduction of holders under 30 affects men more closely (-46% in the period) than women (-24%), while aging affects women more than men (+72% over 70 craftswomen against +45%). The craftsman is still a profession for men, but women are growingAs for gender, that of the craftsman still remains a profession with a strong male prevalence.

But something is changing, the “gender ratio”, that is, how many men for every 100 women, has improved over time from 535 in 2011 to 447 in 2021, but less in the South (453).

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