Skills anticipation activities are implemented at both national and local levels.
At national level the following activities take place:
- A national survey of occupational profiles and audit of skill needs, as part of the National Integrated Information System of Professions[i] (Sistema Informativo Integrato delle Professioni). For each occupational profile there is a list of the required skills, ranked by importance and complexity. The survey is carried out by INAPP (Istituto Nazionale per l’Analisi delle Politiche Pubbliche), part of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, which is the former ISFOL (Istituto per lo Sviluppo della Formazione Professionale dei Lavoratori. The National Integrated Information System of Professions, jointly promoted by INAPP and ISTAT, includes studies, analyses and research activities aimed at providing knowledge on the structure of, and the changes in, the demand for skills in the labour market. It is used to assist jobseekers and those in employment, as well as in the development of education and training programmes. In addition, it identifies the importance of a range of skills in the labour market as reported by employers;
- The annual Excelsior Survey by the Italian Union of the Chambers of Commerce (Unioncamere), which maps labour demand and related skills needs;
- The annual survey on the profile and employment outcomes of university graduates is carried out by AlmaLaurea (an inter-university consortium) since 1989. The employment of university graduates and postgraduates is also captured by a periodic survey, carried out by ISTAT;
- The periodic surveys on the transition from school to work of vocational and technical upper-second level graduates, also conducted by ISTAT.
At the local level, there are several activities aimed at mapping, understanding and forecasting training and skill needs. At the regional level there are periodic surveys and, in some regions, labour market observatories (Osservatori del Mercato del Lavoro) that provide skills anticipation data and analyses. These generally fall under the supervision of relevant institutions in the regions and autonomous provinces. At the local level, skills anticipation activities tend to depend upon the priorities of local policymakers. They cover a range of local issues, including sectoral analysis and activities related to European Social Fund (ESF)-funded projects.
Recent efforts to develop a more cohesive system led to the implementation of the National Integrated Information System of Professions (under the auspices of INAPP), intended to help improve the fragmented situation and increase the coordination among the different actors at national, regional and local levels.[ii]
The most comprehensive skills anticipation activities have been developed by INAPP and ISTAT, the National Integrated Information System of Professions. It has three main objectives:
- Improving the national classification of occupations (classificazione delle professioni) thereby allowing a common base for all anticipation activities;
- Providing a national level skills assessment and forecast based on occupational profiles; and
- Creating a web platform on which data from a wide variety of sources are collected and made available to final users.
More generally, the overall aim of the skills anticipation system in Italy is to support public policy design (especially in the fields of training and education, as well as that of employment) and, importantly, to provide labour market intermediaries (e.g. guidance experts, employment and placement services, matching services – both public and private – and training providers) with the information to assist individuals to make decisions about education, training and/or employment.
The Italian Constitution, following its 2001 reform, gives regions and autonomous provinces full competence in regulating and managing initial vocational training, labour market policies (except for the general norms), employment services (including matching services) and education and training guidance for students (together with the Ministry of Education’s Regional Offices). Accordingly, the way in which skills anticipation is carried out and regulated is decided at the regional/local level. At national level, INAPP, directly linked to the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, seeks to coordinate activities across Italy.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Policies (Ministero del Lavoro e delle Politiche Sociali), at national level, and the regions and autonomous provinces, at local level, have responsibility for implementing skills anticipation activities. Numerous national actors share their data with INAPP using the occupational profile system, including:
- ISTAT with Labour Force Survey (LFS) data
- The Ministry of Labour and Social Policies (offering data collected through the website Cliclavoro, which is designed to support matching labour demand and supply rather than function as a skills anticipation tool)
- The National Institute for Work Accidents Insurance (Istituto Nazionale Assicurazione contro gli Infortuni sul Lavoro, Inail) for data on work accidents
- The Unioncamere, with the Excelsior database
- The National Agency for Active Labour Policy (ANPAL), which carries out analysis, monitoring and evaluation of active policies and employment services. The regions and autonomous provinces with their Labour Market Observatories (where they exist) and various surveys.
Discussions between INAPP and the authorities at regional and provincial level, aimed at strengthening the coordination of skills anticipation and increasing networks between organisations, are under way.
The role of stakeholders in the skills anticipation system
The main stakeholders of the skills anticipation system are policymakers (at national and regional levels), and research institutions. Coordination of the system is carried out at a national level, and given the role of regional governments, it remains a challenge. While the presence of local observatories and the range of anticipation policies at the regional and local levels provide detailed information, this has come at the price of using different methodologies and classifications. INAPP is working with various stakeholders towards harmonising the variety of methodological approaches currently in use. In March 2016, the government launched a national skills strategy following the OECD approach. At the completion of the work in March 2017, stakeholders representing business, workers, education, research institutions and the government stressed the need to improve the implementation of the reforms (including, for example, Digital School Plan, Jobs Act al Piano and Industry Plan 4.0) to make them more effective. Policymakers at both national and regional levels are institutionally responsible for implementing skills anticipation systems, and for using their results in shaping and developing national or local level policies. Research institutions generally support central and local institutions as well as social partners in designing and implementing the different activities and surveys which feed skills anticipation activities.
The intended target groups vary according to the type of skills anticipation instruments available. The most relevant target groups are local governments, training institutions (universities included), labour market intermediaries and individuals in general (mainly students and jobseekers). In particular, INAPP, with its National Integrated Information System of Professions, mainly targets the public employment service (Servizi per l’Impiego) and policymakers at different levels. Its skills anticipation tools are potentially useful for training institutions, students, jobseekers, employers, and researchers. AlmaLaurea, with its annual reports, primarily targets universities in its network (providing them with annual graduate profile reports and an annual report on the occupational destination of their graduates). Upper-second level students who are about to enrol in universities are an important target group as well (through a dedicated career guidance service). Recent graduates and companies are also surveyed. The Excelsior Survey conducted by the Unioncamere targets policymakers and training institutions operating at national, regional and local levels.
The direct influence of skills anticipation on public policy has been traditionally weak. Educational institutions and training providers use skills anticipation survey results both for informing their strategies and for supporting student guidance and counselling. Trade unions and employers’ organisations are mostly involved in national or local level boards or committees that oversee steering and monitoring the skills anticipation activities. Frequently, the boards/committees are coordinated by an institution which is formally responsible for education, training, employment or local development policies, depending on the particular issue being addressed. Employers’ associations also act as direct customers and users of skills anticipation aimed at supporting the planning of continuous vocational training at the sectoral level.
Funding and resources
There are no clear figures on skills anticipation funding in Italy. The volume of actors involved in skills anticipation activities makes it difficult to identify the scale of expenditure. Much of the funding for skills anticipation is supplied at the local level, given that responsibility for skills anticipation rests largely with local authorities. However, some national level funding is provided for some actors. INAPP, for which the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies provides funding, had a budget of €100 in 2019; however, this sum also covers activities other than research relating to vocational education and training (VET) and employment. AlmaLaurea, had a total budget of €4.2m in 2019, with the major part of the budget came mainly from university funding.