Detailed Program of the Conference

Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for a detailed view (with speakers and abstracts).

Overall view of the program
Parallel sessions - C.6 School-Work Alternance: What Challenges for National Educational Systems?
Friday, 04/June/2021:
9:00am - 11:15am

Session Chair: Donatella Poliandri
Session Chair: Mauro Palumbo
Location: Room 4

Session Panels:
C.6. School Work Alternance: What Challenges for National Educational Systems?

External Resource:


Antonio Fasanella, Maria Dentale, Maria Paola Faggiano, Veronica Lo Presti

Department of Communication and Social Research, "Sapienza" University of Rome, Italy

The recent law (l. 145/2018) on PCTOs, which replaced the School-Work Alternance (SWA), confers to the upper secondary schools a central role in promoting educational paths oriented to the development of both professional and soft skills.

That law is focused on the implementation of an integrated and incisive educational action, aimed at increasing the connections between learning settings in and out of school. The new law foresees the implementation of a flexible design model to place student aspirations and needs at the center of the relationship between school and local community.

In total, 198 SWA/PCTO projects were selected. A part of these projects were downloaded from the websites of a sub-sample of 22 upper secondary schools - included in a more articulated national sample of an extensive PRIN survey - and another part from the Miur Platform of Alternance Stories.

Project corpora were analyzed using the “content analysis as survey”. It allowed to identify the most significant associations between the constitutive elements of the projects developed by the schools.

In the typology of projects are differently combined:

  • soft skills to be developed by the students (e.g. citizenship, vocational and managerial skills);
  • educational methods used to implement the activities (differentiated into learning by doing or learning by thinking).

The typology is divided into the following types of ASL/PCTO:

  1. “Vocational training paths” (VTP) that requires complementary learning contexts (school-host organization) and involves the activation of study-work (training) modules and initiatives;
  2. “Managerial training paths” (MTP) that foresees the realization of a simulated setting for the development of managerial skills and expertise;
  3. “Cultural training paths” (CTP) that aims to enhance the artistic and craft traditions of the local community, stimulating the ability of students to engage with others in the implementation of activities with a significant socio-cultural impact.

The three types of projects are distinguished by the skills required to the students involved. Specifically, the occupational skills of VTP – typical of the ASL cultural project – and the managerial and communicative skills (respectively, MTP and CTP) – which characterize the PCTOs.

The multiplicity of educational methods, used to articulate the co-design between school and external partners, is another crucial aspect of the different types of projects. In particular, in the VTP there is more integration between school and hosting organizations, it is articulated in the classic traineeship. In the PFM, the business simulation actions replace the internship activities, they involve testimonials from representatives of the business network. The CTP, instead, includes all those projects of civic education, cultural promotion and artistic training, aimed at enhancing the value of the local community intangible patrimony.


Daniela Pavoncello, Sabina Polidori

INAPP, Italia

Social agriculture is one of the areas of intervention of the civil economy, in which the dynamics of the market, gift, reciprocity and sharing,carry out in a close form the regulation of exchanges between members of the community, in order to realize virtuous and innovative generative processes also in training and formal learning (schools, universities and other training agencies) and non-formal learning(volunteering and active citizenship) of the school as an active community, open to the territory and able to develop and increase interaction with families and the local community.To realize and implement all this it is necessary:to support motivation for studying or reinforce it and the orientation of students characterized by particular marginalities, fragilities and disabilities; reinforce and guarantee the permanence in the training system or promote access to conscious work, or with regard to the theme of reducing and preventing early school leaving by promoting the reduction of territorial gaps and strengthening those educational institutions with greater delays, also through the promotion of innovative experiences, such as the districts of civil economy (Campi di Bisenzio, Empoli, Grottammare, etc.),in which civil and social agriculture play an important role in the development of the territories and its inhabitants.School, as an open and active community, is also fundamental in the involvement of students in social agriculture projects in the field of school-work alternance, with the aim of: implementing flexible learning methods from a cultural and educational point of view, which link classroom training with practical experience in the social field; enrich education and training paths with the acquisition of useful skills in the labour market; to establish an organic link between educational and training institutions with the world of work and civil society, which allows the active participation of third sector actors in the training processes; relate the educational offer to the cultural, social, economic and sustainable development of the territory.A good generative example, is the Working4Work project of the Italian Down Syndrome Association which aims to open a dialogue among farms, cooperatives, schools, public bodies, voluntary associations and families, to promote the conditions of access and permanence at work of people with intellectual disabilities.Added to this is the Inapp research project: "Prevention is possible: analysis of the accompanying measures for the school-work transition of young people with mental distress" developed for the school transition.This project has made it possible to highlight some of the most innovative paths implemented by schools to promote the school-work transition for young people with mental disabilities in conjunction with social farms that practice social agriculture. Although not yet widespread, these experiences show that it is possible to provide opportunities for professional development and inclusion through rehabilitation and educational programs aimed at promoting full autonomy and the acquisition of professional and relational skills that allow an opportunity for job inclusion.The practices that have been detected represent situations of excellence with effective/successful synergies among schools, local communities and the territory


Antonio Fasanella1, Stefania Chimenti2, Fiorenzo Parziale3

1Sapienza-Università di Roma, Italy; 2Unical, Italy; 3Sapienza-Università di Roma, Italy

The aim of this paper is to analyse the articulation of School-Work Alternance (SWA, thereafter) through the identification of organisational models based on the grade of scholastic innovation, the type of adopted curriculum, and the attributed goals to this measure.

These cognitive objectives were reached through the elaboration of data collected by a survey carried on SWA representative in 432 upper secondary schools in Italy: first, through PCA (Principal Component Analysis: Di Franco, Marradi 2003) we built an index of innovation and other indices regarding the organisational processes activated by schools; therefore, we adopted multiple linear regression (Corbetta, Gasperoni, Pisati 2001) in order to build a model addressed to identify a factor set contributing to the scholastic innovation, starting from pedagogical practices; eventually, the data were analysed through the combination of multiple correspondence analysis with mixed cluster analysis, and in this way, we were able to classify the different organizational models of SWA.

Our theoretical frame conceives the SWA as a tool of neoliberal reform in education and at the same time as an outcome of reorganisation of scholastic knowledge produced by the social change and connected to the economic tertiarization (Bernstein 1973, 2000).

In this view, the analysis started with the hypothesis that SWA may be implemented through different organisational models according to the manner through which schools (and the scholastic actors) relate with involved partners, and depending also on restraints and resources of the local socio-economic context.

The attention was focused on the restructuring process in the “scholastic field” (Bourdieu 1979) regarding the specific socioeconomic environment (Scott 1995), considering both the subdivision of educational tracking set by upper secondary education level and the role exercised by school head and teachers (Serpieri 2013).

Our findings show not only the divisions within the scholastic field but also as this measure may lead schools in peripheric contexts to reinvent themselves, going beside the dichotomy between bureaucratic compliance – revealing cultural resistances – and the enhancing of neoliberal regulation – devaluing the theoretical knowledge and subordinating the educational system to the immediate needs of companies (Bengtsson 2011). Rather, the combination of some innovative practices and resources seem to return a new centrality to the educational system with regarding its capability to convert the attack to its autonomy in a mean to influence on production world, without giving away the typical values of public education (Apple 2012; van Dijck et al. 2019), at least according the vision of European and Italian social model.


Noemi Novello, Alessandra Decataldo, Brunella Fiore

University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy

To effectively address young adults’ difficulties in the transition from secondary school to either tertiary education or the labour market and to improve their career orientation, since 2005 Italy adopted school-work alternance (SWA) programs as a part of their scholastic curriculum. SWA is a pedagogical approach that aims to improve on-the-job experience, which is useful for promoting young adults’ employability and strengthening the connection between learning content and the demands of the labour market. The host organizations are central players in the training process, since they endure the significant task of providing, through learning-by-doing and situated learning, a context and active approaches to enhance students’ soft skills and their self-orientation capacity towards the labour market, either directly or passing by tertiary training relevant for the desired position.

This contribution shows the preliminary exploratory phase of a study on host organisations for SWA programs, more recently developed as PTSO (Paths for Transversal Skills and Orientations). In-depth interviews to privileged witnesses in host organisations as well as to institutional representatives were conducted to investigate their point of view on SWA and PTSO programs. Through the support of interview excerpts, a reflection upon relevant themes regarding on-the-job experiences will be presented. The analysis was carried out with a predominantly exploratory intent, focusing mainly on the role that host organisations might have on preparing students to labour market demands for soft skills as well as on sustaining their self-orientation competence.

First results show that all interviewees agree on the relevance of a training experience design that would give space to transversal skills, facilitating students’ self-consciousness, as well as awareness on their interests, their aspirations, and, consequently, promoting an attentive entrance into the market place. The interviews highlight some practical experiences (e.g., time management, teamwork, different styles in relating to colleagues) that represent examples of transversal skills that can be useful in the school to work transition. Furthermore, a work environment emerges as a fundamental training place for enhancing these skills, in the perspective of learning-by-doing and situated learning. Finally, characteristics of the various productive contexts emerged as crucial in shaping the features of proposals for SWA or PTSO programs available to students.


Valeria Silvia Pandolfini, Claudio Torrigiani, Paola Giannoni, Elena Zini

Università degli Studi di Genova - Dipartimento di Scienze della Formazione (Di.Sfor.), Italia

During the complex path of identity development, adolescents are called to reflect on the professional role they intend to play in society (Arnett, 2004) and to manage the difficulties associated with the transition from school to labor market (Caroleo et al., 2017). These difficulties often appear to be linked to the mismatch between school learning and needs of the labor market, as well as to the inadequacy of career guidance services. The school-work alternance is considered a useful pedagogical approach to respond to these critical issues and to improve the employability of adolescents and their future experience in the labor market (Costa, 2016). In particular, these paths aim to: promote students’ professional skills and help them identify their professional goals; expand the connections between learning in formal, informal and non-formal contexts, allowing students to familiarize themselves with the work context; improve young people’s propensity for entrepreneurship and active citizenship (Hadjivassiliou et al., 2016; European Commission, 2018). However, the objectives of pathways for transversal skills and orientation (PCTO), mandatory in Italy for students of the last three years of upper secondary schools, appear complex to achieve due to the plurality of stakeholders involved in their design and implementation inside and outside the school.

This paper intends to contribute to the debate on PCTO. It presents the main evidence emerged from an exploratory study part of the research project “Evaluating the School-Work Alternance: a longitudinal study in Italian upper secondary schools” aimed at evaluating the PCTO measure. The project is coordinated by INVALSI in partnership with Sapienza-University of Rome, University of Genoa, University of Milano Bicocca and financed by MUR. This exploratory analysis includes qualitative interviews involving 28 stakeholders of upper schools (lyceums, technical and vocational) and public institutions in Genoa and Milan. The paper highlights PCTO objectives, benefits and potential problems for students, teachers and firms; organizational and implementation strategies, pointing out obstacles and facilitating factors; PCTO perceived effect on students’ orientation and on their transversal and professional skills. It explores the attitudes and behaviors of the main PCTO’ s agents in order to investigate how and to what extent they could have influenced the functioning of the measure, which mechanisms have been activated in different contexts, and, lastly, which objectives may have been achieved. The different emerged views underline the complexity both of PCTO’s implementation and of the system’s governance.

Arnett, J.J. (2004). Emerging adulthood: The winding road from the late teens through the twenties. New York: Oxford University Press.

Caroleo, F.E., Demidova, O., Marelli, E., & Signorelli, M. (2017). Young People and the Labour Market. A Comparative Perspective. London: Routledge.

Costa, V. (2016). Circolo ermeneutico, ibridazione scuola-lavoro e lifelong learning. Un approccio fenomenologico. Formazione, Persona e Società, 6, 16-25.

European Commission (2018). Council Recommendation on key competences for lifelong learning. Official Journal of the European Union. (2018/C – 189/01)

Hadjivassiliou, K., Tassinari, A., Eichhorst, W., & Wozny, F. (2016). Assessing the Performance of School to-Work Transition Regimes in the EU. IZA Discussion Paper 10301. Bonn: IZA.


Donatella Poliandri1, Beba Molinari1,2, Enrico Nerli Ballati1, Ughetta Favazzi1, Stefania Sette3, Lorenzo Mancini4

1INVALSI - Italian National Institute for the Educational Evaluation of Instruction and Training, Italy; 2University of Catanzaro, Italy; 3quot;Sapienza" University of Rome, Italy; 4Cros NT S.r.l., Italy

In Italy, Law 107/2015 provides that School Work Alternance (SWA) programmes, regulated by Legislative Decree 77/2005, are mandatory for all students in the last three years of high school to increase job opportunities and student orientation skills. More recently, Law 145/2018 renamed these programmes “Pathways for Transversal Skills and Orientation” (PTSO) by re-modulating the minimum overall duration and the resources assigned to schools. In PTSO guidelines, issued by the Ministry of Education with Decree 774/2019, the transversal and technical-professional competences have crucial role, as the orientation value of the paths. PTSOs are configured as integrated curricular courses to be implemented in different operational contexts. In this context, PTSOs may play a key role in improving students’ occupational skills, helping students to identify their occupational goals and career orientation by redefining school and work relations as a solution for the skills mismatch.The literature shows that the social origin, expectations, self-efficacy, as well as the personality traits of students may influence their career choices.The aim of this paper is to present the research design of a longitudinal study involving nearly 20,000 high school students. The main purpose of this study is to evaluate the PTSOs as a didactic methodology for training and guiding students in their development. To achieve this goal, we aim to analyse the developmental trajectories about students’ occupational aspirations, career orientation, and occupational skills in their interplay with the PTSOs and the different students’ social and individual factors.The analysis of the growth curves will allow to identify groups of students with different development trajectories and to characterize them starting from their different PTSOs experiences. We aim to realize a two-year longitudinal study on the cohort of Grade 11 students enrolled in 100 Italian high schools, selected through a quota sampling method by considering the geographical areas and the high school types as strata variables. Students’ enrolment will start in the scholastic year 2021-22. Each student will fill in a standardized questionnaire, replicated in three waves, aimed at detecting demographics, family structure, social origins, and history of their educational pathway. Contextual factors (e.g., class-average socio-economic status) will also be considered.Particular attention will be paid to the social origin as a factor to understand students’ opportunities and constraints as well as professional preferences and aspirations. In addition, students’ individual characteristics in terms of career orientation, occupational and academic self-efficacy beliefs, and personality traits will be analysed. The survey takes also in account student’s academic achievement, social-emotional competencies, quality of relationships with parents, teachers, peers and, at waves II and III, students’ perceptions of their PTSOs. Moreover, a specific focus is given to the quality of the relationships that students establish with school PTSOs tutors and hosting organization tutors.This study will allow to identify good practices and factors capable of promoting the growth of student awareness in their career choices and to offer useful information to schools, host organizations and policy makers to implement PTSOs more aimed at supporting the students in the school/work transition or transition to the tertiary education sector.


Gabriele Pinna, Marco Pitzalis

Università di Cagliari, Italy

Drawing on an ongoing empirical qualitative research, this paper focuses on the implementation of a work-based learning device (Alternanza scuola lavoro/Percorsi per le Competenze Trasversali e per l’Orientamento) in Sardinia. The data was collected through two field studies: the first, carried out between 2018 and 2019, consisted of an analysis of secondary statistical data and 48 in-depth interviews carried out with young people from two subregions of Sardinia (Mandrolisai and Marmilla). The goal was to analyze the training and work strategies of young people according to their representations of their subregion while at the same time deepening the analysis of their PCTO / ASL experiences. The second research, launched at the beginning of 2019 and still in progress, although slowed down by the pandemic crisis that has inexorably interrupted the experiences in the workplace of students, is instead aimed at studying the implementation of PCTO / ASL in Sardinia in the urban areas (metropolitan city of Cagliari) and in a mountain subregion of the province of Nuoro (Mandrolisai). During this research, ethnographic interviews were carried out with school principals, teachers, tutors, students (and their parents) from high schools (licei and technical and vocational schools). In addition, entrepreneurs and tutors from associations who welcomed the students during the PCTO/ASL experiences were interviewed and participant observations were carried out during some events, such as a children's literature festival, in which dozens of students took part during their PCTO/ASL experiences.

The research field is placed in a mountain subregion of Sardinia with the goal to sort out how orientation practices are conditioned by structural constraints related to the characteristics of the school field (because of the limited range of tracks) and of the economic space in a peripherical region. Within the observed subregion, school projects of orientation and training at work may clashes with the structural characteristic of the economic sector, characterized by a prevalence of small sized, often family-run, enterprises, mainly active in the agro-pastoral sector, trade and personal services. Data collected made it possible to highlight various critical issues such as the mismatch between school calendar and company’s production cycle, the lack of organizational and human resources for a real supervision of students, a paternalistic professional culture centered on hierarchical and moral order rather than the transmission of soft skills. In this frame, our paper allows a more refined reading of the complex relationships between school and work in peripheral contexts, overcoming interpretations in terms of mismatching. Moreover, we show that the success of the orientation activity relies mostly on student’s and on their social capital.