ANALYSIS OF EXPERIENCES AND DATA TO IMPROVE AND RETHINK THE ITALIAN MODELLING OF EDUCATIONAL AND TRAINING CONCEPTS AND PRACTICES
The economic crisis characterized the last decade and the negative effects of the current pandemic are recently adding obstacles to the profound segmentation of the Italian labour market. This background contributes to create an unfavourable context for employability, for needy segments of the population, young people and more mature groups.
On one side, young people find themselves forced to struggle in a situation of low economic growth, a reduction in public spending and a lack of investments addressed directly to them. Also, future graduates will suffer from a deficit linked to the lower skills acquired due to the pandemic, in the last two school/academic years, which forced education and VET systems to modify and too often to reduce the contents provided in routine pathways. The larger use of Distance Learning, episodes of school interruptions - for lockdown periods - or individual quarantine, have become a massive portion of the learning pathways.
On the other side, more mature workers are faced with an increasingly competitive labour market, the obsolescence of their skills and qualifications (if not updated) and the reduction of jobs availability due to the closure of many enterprises in several sectors (Tourism, Manufacturing, Automotive, etc) after the pandemic.
Thus, the situation of the labour market in Italy remains very complicated. The indicators confirm long-established negative trends (i.e., gender gap, regional differences, skills and qualifications mismatch), which testify how deeply the economic system is unable to make the most of human capital. Part of the problem regards VET systems and their inadequate link with labour market requirements.
The contribution of this paper is twofold: analysing comparatively the school-to-work transition as a lever to improve the inclusion of young people in the labour market; and collecting key successful experiences concerning VET systems, which could be useful in the Italian context, also for the reintegration of mature workforce into the labour market.
For the analysis of the transition, we will start from the European Skills Index (ESI) developed by Cedefop, measuring the different aspects of the skills system of EU member countries, where the positioning of Italy reflects all the difficulties at national and regional level. In fact, in all ESI descriptors, namely: Skills Development, Skills Activation and Skills Matching, Italy ranks among the worst performing countries. And above all it is within the Skill Activation component (transition) that Italy ranks as the last country (only 6.2 points out of 100).
The VET systems in Italy have revealed structural long-term gaps and even the targeted reforms have not led to better results. However, VET systems have many important purposes, related to the social impact (in terms of integration and inclusion of disadvantaged groups), but also it is supposed to contribute to the growth of the economy and creation of employment (UNESCO, 2018). Considering that VET systems have had solid success in some realities (Japan, Singapore and Finland), affected by similar global megatrends, we intend to collect key aspects which may be ideal to improve and rethink the Italian modelling of vet concepts and practices.
ITALIAN VET SYSTEM COULD BE CHANGED TO FACE INEQUALITIES AND SOCIAL EXCLUSION: A FEW THOUGHTS LOOKING AT THE DUTCH MODEL
National Institute for Public Policy Analysis (INAPP), Italia
The current economic crisis is the most serious since the post-war period and it is necessary to rethink education from a new perspective. The pandemic could prove to be the long-awaited opportunity to guarantee young people and the future generations an efficient VET system, able to train and educate tomorrow’s workers today, responding to the demand for labour market skills. In order to reach this objective, education cannot be taken out from the general framework of policies to be implemented. Appropriate economic resources, up-to-date infrastructure, state-of-the-art methodologies and human capital are the bases from which to start, but they assume a stable political situation and a growth economy. Hoping that such conditions will be fulfilled in a reasonably short time, a synergistic relationship between education and business should be implemented as well as technology training, to bring Italy closer to the European Union. This implies the need to create a flexible VET system, in which IVET and CVET interact with each other, so that lifelong learning takes shape in opportunities for advancement and professional growth for each individual throughout her or his life. The Dutch VET system which historically is one of the most efficient in Europe, could be a model to look at carefully. The symbiotic relationship between IVET and CVET, which characterizes it, has been contributing to the development of the Netherlands for over half a century and would seem to be a utopia come true. However, the macro-trends of change affecting Europe have not spared it, requiring the Government to take extraordinary measures with the aim of preserving the system’s resilience. Understanding how the Dutch model is facing old and new problems could be useful to determine which solutions would be better in Italy. Although the European Commission’s report confirmed its excellence in relation to the ET 2020 benchmarks, the latest report by the Dutch Education Inspectorate warns of the need to stem a slow but progressive decline in education, with particular reference to the binomial IVET/ CVET, where the main criticisms are found. Compared with the past, discrimination and early school leaving with a focus on foreign students, are growing problems as well as the low participation of adults with poor skills in continuing training. There is also a cultural impoverishment, with a million natives at risk of social exclusion due to insufficient knowledge of the mother tongue. Dutch VET system’s unintended results and inconsistencies could be more useful than its well-known achievements to design and implement new VET policies in Italy, respecting the different contest. It is hoped that innovative teaching tools and models will be adopted, but the Dutch experience suggests that strengthening vocational education and training with subjects of general knowledge should not be neglected to cope with inequalities and social exclusion.
Onderwijs (2021 Inspectie van het), De Staat van het Onderwijs, Utrecht
Sapulete S. Et Al. (2019), Arbeidsmarktbarometer po, vo en mbo 2018-2019. Rotterdam
Maslowski R. (2019), Grenzen aan een leven lang leren, Den Haag
OECD (2020), Education at a Glance, Paris
INDIVIDUALIZATION OF TEACHING AND WBL, REAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR DISADVANTAGED STUDENTS
INAPP - Institute for Public Policy Innovation, Italy
Inclusive education is one of the most important educational imperative for the development of quality and equity in the training systems. Despite that, in Europe not all young students may access or complete secondary education, testing a lot of disadvantages in the adult life; they are, in particular, those who come to marginalized groups or young students with disability and/or special education needs (SEN):
- students with disability
- students with specific disorders in the evolutive age
- students with socio-economic, socio-cultural disadvantage or with language problems
For this vulnerable group of students – still excluded in an excessive way from training systems and labour market – the offer of alternative programmes in the training systems, most innovatives and calibrated on their particular needs, shows to be an effective prevention intervention against early school leaving, youth unemployment and social exclusion.
Students with SEN need not only compensatory tools and dispensation meausures but also a personalized learning and, first of all, most work based learning experiences (WBL), in all the forms forecast at european level: work-school/apprenticeship pathways – WBL experiences – WBL integrated in an upper secondary school programme. Practical training in a real work place, focusing on the acquisition of learning ability and results as starting point for the acknowledgement and certification of skills needed for a job, is a real opportunity for students with SEN to combacting educational failure and simplifing the transition from school to work.
The WBL experiences represent an integral part of the learning process; this is more essential if we consider students with SEN, who cause to their disability, or their social or cultural context, not should be able to acquire theoretical concepts or detailed study programmes but seem motivated to be involved in alternative approaches for the acquisition of practical skills usefuls in the labour market.
The implementation of a WBL planning process for students with SEN needs intervention actions in the following priority areas:
- Building of a Common Framework of intervention for developing and carring out individual educational and vocational training programmes, as well as individual transition plans
- Developing flexible education and training systems, connecting formal VET pathways with WBL experiences for SEN students
- Planning training support to preparing teachers, entrepreneurs and their staff to work better with SEN students
- Identyfing indicators for monitoring and evaluation of WBL experiences.
- European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education and Inclusive Education, 2015: Luxembourg Recommendations – Inclusive Education – Take Action!
- OECD, 2015. No More Failures: Ten Steps to Equity in Education
- UNESCO, Paris World Education Forum, 2015. Incheon Declaration “Education 2030: Towards inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all”
- (OJ C 191, 1.7.2011) Recommendation of the Council of the European Union on policies to reduce early school leaving
- European Pillar of Social Rights, 2016. ISBN 978-92-79-74092-3
- Council of the European Union, 19 December 2016: Initiative on Upskilling Pathways
- 2018/C 195/01 Council Recommendation on promoting common values, inclusive education, and the European dimension of teaching
TERRITORIAL DUALISM AND CONTINUING VOCATIONAL TRAINING SUPPLY
INAPP (National Institute for Public Policy Analysis), Italy
Territorial dualism in vocational training is an important component of the wider territorial gap that separates the centre-north regions from the southern ones, preventing a convergence of socio-economic indicators that still highlight the presence of inequalities between the different regional contexts.
A reflection aimed at identifying possible trajectories and interventions for overcoming the educational dualism that affects our country, and which in times of pandemic emergency risks growing further, cannot but revolve around the concept of human capital, as a set of knowledge, skills and abilities that affect the quality of life, social and working, of each individual.
But the enhancement of human capital is also a precondition for the support and optimization of public and private investments necessary for the innovation of the country and to improve its productivity and growth prospects in the medium and long term.
The ways in which a different relationship is created between the structuring of the training supply and the growth needs of the production system derive from this territorial dichotomy.
Continuing Vocational Training (CVT) has important effects from an economic, political and social point of view. It interacts crucially, strictly speaking, with collective bargaining and industrial relations and, in a broad sense, with other spheres, such as the welfare state and local development.
In this institutional context, which requires a structured and continuous dialogue between all the actors involved (State, Regions and Autonomous Provinces, Social Partners), it is of absolute interest to reconstruct the state of the art of the dissemination of training processes in the workplace in a period between the great recession of 2007-09 and the current pandemic.
A trend can be outlined, over the last few decades, from a generalist training model to a specialized one, centred on the contingent needs of the company, linked to technological innovations.
Above all, it is important to understand to what extent the distribution of training opportunities for employed people is today influenced by a diversified multilevel governance of training policies, characterized by very heterogeneous intervention models from region to region and with a strong differentiation between the centre-north and south.
This paper aims to analyze the territorial diffusion of continuing vocational training carried out in the companies, with both public and private funding, detected through the latest editions of the INAPP-ISFOL INDACO-CVTS (Survey on knowledge in enterprises) statistical survey. The Surface Measure of Overall Performance (SMOP) methodology will be used for the analysis of territorial gaps.
Angotti, R., Dordit L. (2015), “La struttura dell’offerta di formazione professionale pubblica in Italia. Linee di tendenza nei processi di trasformazione dei sistemi regionali”, Scuola Democratica, 3/2015, il Mulino, Bologna;
Busemeyer, M. R. & Trampusch, C. (eds.) (2011) The Political Economy of Collective Skill Formation, New York, Oxford University Press;
Emmenegger P. & Seitzl, L. (2019) “Collective Action, Business Cleavages and the Politics of Control. Segmentalism in the Swiss Skill Formation System”
THE KEY ROLE OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING SYSTEMS IN THE DIGITAL TRANSITION. RECOVERY AND RESILIENCE OF VET POST COVID-19
The COVID-19 outbreak has brought to the fore in Europe the difficulties and challenges of Education and Training (VET) systems and made possible a marked acceleration in the adoption of innovation measures in all sectors to overcome the digital divide. This is even more evident in Italy, which for a decade has been ranked at the bottom for digital innovation and use of new technologies, as well as for the digital skills of citizens. Amidst so many critical issues, it seems that the challenge of digital transformation has been taken up and will play a key role in post-emergency management as well, building on the new interactive modalities tested during the Covid-19 pandemic. These modalities will have to be implemented, giving them an organic character that will make them usable also after the crisis. The 2020 Coronavirus emergency in Italy did not in fact catch society, the public administration, the business world, the school and, the training world completely unprepared, as they demonstrated an extraordinary capacity to adapt by making massive and sudden use of distance learning and remote working. The reactivity of the training system, which has opened up to innovation and the use of networked services and platforms, has also made it possible to relaunch and implement the lifelong learning paradigm through various methods, including customisable ones, which were already the ones that best expressed demand. Innovation and digitalisation in VET play a key role in the broader green and digital transitions, as well as in the recovery and resilience of a post-COVID-19 Europe, confirming the results of studies carried out by the European Commission in recent years, which have been the starting point for a whole series of initiatives in this sense. Through an analysis of European policies for recovery and resilience, a reflection is proposed on the response of training systems to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 emergency and on the future of training systems. In particular, critical issues related to infrastructures, practical aspects of training, lack of e-skills and, digital devices will be identified and analysed. After this large-scale forced experimentation, distance learning carried out in synchronous mode could move from an extraordinary and limited use to ordinary and structured use for the provision of training, in particular continuous training, enriched with new technologies that would also make it possible to overcome the criticalities currently encountered. The main forms of distance learning and the trends for the near future, as identified by the European Commission in the new "Digital Education Action Plan 2021-2027 Rethinking Education and Training for the Digital Age", point to a new era for training. Education thus becomes the driving force for Europe's digital transformation that can no longer be postponed, fully based on the UN Charter and respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and open to a broader coalition of international partners sharing the same European vision to develop the rules of a human-centric digital transformation.
THE SUBJECTIVE RIGHT TO TRAINING: PROMOTER OF LIFELONG LEARNING OR REPRODUCER OF INEQUALITIES?
Technical innovation is the main driver of transformation in all countries, affecting the economy and the world of work. Traditional sectors are gradually giving way to new occupations and almost all jobs are changing under the pressure of an increasing degree of digitization. The vocational education and training (VET) systems are to be renewed as well, to continue ensuring an effective response to individuals’ and businesses’ needs.
Several European countries have long been committed to improving the attractiveness and quality of their VET systems, expanding the training provision in foreseeing the establishment of lifelong learning systems. The pressing demand to ensure employability throughout longer working lives threatened by recurring discontinuities is progressively shifting VET systems’ axis towards the training needs of the adults, both employed and unemployed.
The emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic intervenes as an exogenous shock affecting local dynamics and redesigning previous evolution trajectories. VET systems have to reinvent themselves to stay aligned with the businesses’ needs and support the economic recovery; moreover, they have to play a role in tackling increasing inequalities between individuals and territories and in promoting social equality and global solidarity, which are even more at risk due to the pandemic.
In this context, an effective protection of individuals’ employability cannot be limited to the management of critical events but calls for establishing an entitlement to a career development, through adequate policies. This is fuelling a renewed interest in preventive approaches for strengthening the employability of the adult population and in the use of ILAs, Individual Learning Accounts, as means to support the development of individuals’ skills during their life-course.
With respect to ILAs, the most remarkable example which is ongoing is the French Personal Training Account - now included in the Personal Activity Account -, which allows the employers to fulfil their «obligation d'employabilité» and simultaneously appeals to individuals’ autonomy and responsibility to build their own career.
The subjective right to training introduced in Italy by the National Collective Agreement for the metalworking industry follows the same "person-centred" approach; both the Italian and the French tool can stimulate the activation of systemic changes at various levels, enhancing economic growth, making the labour market more transparent and improving the quality of training.
The research we are going to present analyzes the latest developments of these tools in France and Italy and examines the available results, looking in particular at the interventions that occurred during the Covid-19 emergency.
Furthermore, reflecting on the results of interviews with social partners’ representatives, opportunities and constraints are explored for the gradual extension in Italy of the subjective right to training and the eligibility’s conditions for individuals - mainly those with a lower level of qualification; the analysis considers also the risks arising from a paradigm shift, if the direct and disintermediated management of the subjective right to training by the individuals themselves goes along with a downsizing of the role of social partners and inter-professional joint bodies in the VET system.