Spotlight: Francesco Trentini - A Pillar of Society

Francesco Trentini didn’t home in onto economics right away. His interest in the study of society led him to enroll in 2008 for a bachelor in Economics and Social Sciences at Milan’s Bocconi University, where he initially went for sociology and demography. His first thesis was on norms in cohabitation patterns in Europe.

He soon drifted more decidedly in the direction of economics. At the same university, he pursued a MSc in the same disciplines as his bachelor. Focusing primarily on quantitative methods, microeconometrics and labor economics, he acquired an interest in political economy. His MSc’s degree dissertation explored John Maynard Keynes’s method in the Treatise on Probability and The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.

He then entered, in 2014, the Master in Economics and Complexity at the Collegio Carlo Alberto of the University of Turin, to learn economics from the perspective of complex systems, making extensive use of such tools as network analysis and computational methods.

From there it was but a short hop to acquiring some more serious IT capabilities, such as coding in Python and using the GIT version control system. Integrating the latter made research replicable and underpinned and promoted collaboration.

The following year Francesco entered the PhD in the same discipline and institution, studying the entrance of young generations into the labor market. Putting his technical prowess to good use, he mainly worked with big data, mostly stemming from administrative databases and European surveys.

By now he was also busy teaching, both as an assistant in Microeconomics and in Labor Economics at his alma mater, the University of Turin, as well as at the ITC-ILO, the Turin-based ILO training center.

Shortly before finishing his PhD in 2018, he started to collaborate with the Collegio Carlo Alberto on a project focusing on the counterfactual impact evaluation of labor market policies on youth in four European countries, called the Youth Employment PartnerSHIP. He mostly worked on impact evaluation using quasi-experimental techniques on administrative data, and started to use skills data from the Indagine Campionaria sulle Professioni (Sample Survey on Professions, ICP) run by the Italian Institute for the Analysis of Public Policies, an O*Net-like survey modelled on the Italian productive system.

All these experiences eventually led him, in 2021, to the Department of Statistics and Quantitative Methods and CRISP, at the University of Milano-Bicocca, where he won the postdoctoral researcher position he currently holds. He supported the implementation of the Eurostat/Cedefop project to develop statistics on skills using online job advertisements. He is now involved in other projects and continues his research on policy impact evaluation, youth employment, and skills development.

Together with Pillars colleagues, he worked on the development of an AI-driven classification of the OECD’s Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies background questionnaire onto the Skills Pillar of ESCO, the multilingual classification of European Skills, Competencies, and Occupations.

His career and capabilities made him a natural candidate for Pillars, since it can best benefit from all the experience he has accumulated over the past 15 years—not least working with big data and the most advanced methods and quantitative tools. For his part, Francesco has found the best vehicle to apply his knowledge and tools to the benefit of his very first interest: society at large.

Francesco Trentinti