Within the so-called long chain of job-oriented technical and vocational education and training (VET) a major role is played by recently-reformed higher technical education and training pathways (IFTS - Istruzione e formazione tecnica superiore). Alongside higher technical institutes (ITS - Istituti Tecnici Superiori), IFTS aim at strengthening technical and technological skills and know-how, while accounting for a relevant part of the national curriculum.
IFTS courses last a maximum of two semesters (800 – 1 000 hours). Curricula must include basic technical and scientific subjects, practical applications, training periods at private companies or public bodies, other professionally-oriented activities and real work experience. Practical training periods must cover no less than 30% of each programme. Courses can be accessed by young people and adults, and more generally by those who do not hold a secondary school diploma, have fulfilled compulsory education and training, or do not hold any certification and are willing to acquire competences in professional settings or develop useful skills for professional retraining.
A survey analysing IFTS was carried out by the Institute for the Development of Vocational Training for Workers (ISFOL) in 10 of the 12 Italian regions. The survey was done in close cooperation with regional administrations and involved 5 690 people enrolled in 249 courses, representing the total training offer in Italy between 2010 and 2013.
Some key results:
- people with an employment contract accounted for 57.3% of total people engaged in training;
- employed adults can also engage in training pathways, they represented 22.6% of people enrolled;
- some 45.6% of people engaged in a training pathway found a job or changed theirs. In more detail: 39.2% found a job after following an IFTS course, while 7.4% changed their jobs;
- new jobs were mostly found by people aged 20-29 years, mainly by those who had already completed training in the school system, and consequently hold a diploma or certification from the tertiary education system. For this specific target group, the percentage of new jobs is over 51%;
- some 15.8% of those previously engaged in IFTS courses, proceed to further education and training pathways, mostly young people choosing to attend university;
- gross success and access rate (occupation and education/training pathways) increased to 73.1%;
- apprenticeship programmes are considered to be valuable job opportunities by 21.3% of former students accepting a contract proposal;
- enterprises also responded positively to inputs generated by partnership opportunities: 26% of apprentices were offered a job contract by the hosting enterprise.
In this regard, IFTS pathways appear the most viable option in terms of technical competences and opportunities to access the job market.