In the first half of 2014 results of the vocational training supply (OFP) survey were published by the Institute for the Development of Vocational Training for Workers (ISFOL). The survey assessed the regional vocational education and training (VET) offer with focus on structure, organisation, trends and dynamics. The survey also evaluated adequacy of local systems with labour marked needs and innovative aspects related to post-crisis scenarios.
The survey is divided into a qualitative and a quantitative part. The qualitative analysis focused on training supply and, more specifically, on regional policy analysis. It was conducted through interviews with decision-makers, regional experts and focus groups. The quantitative analysis involved a sample of 1 225 operating locations, which had started, in the three years prior to the survey, at least one training activity financed by public or private funds.
The survey provided information to construct an overall picture of the Italian training system, such as: characteristics of services provided, impact of public funding on the overall financial resources managed by the facilities, training organisations’ human resources, their economic dimension, characteristics of the application reference, etc.
Some key results:
- most training institutions are traditionally oriented towards young people, while a consistent number of institutions are more focused on training opportunities for workers;
- training opportunities for unemployed people seem to be more frequent in southern Italy;
- most publicly-funded activities fall within the scope of continuous and initial VET and higher education. The difference between initial and continuous training pathways lies in course length: initial training courses last on average 668 hours per course with a higher number of learners (18 per course), while continuous training courses are generally shorter (98 per course) with an average of 16 learners but more frequent (17 courses per institute, against six);
- among publicly-funded activities, initial training courses mainly focus on three-year courses and post-diploma pathways, followed by post-qualification courses;
- courses organised within apprenticeship schemes are crucial for accessing the job market;
- continuous training plays a relevant role, indeed half of training institutions have organised continuous training courses aimed at workers made redundant or in temporary lay-off;
- impact of the economic crisis on regional VET systems is seen as the most critical point. Ranking first is a reduction of public funds once allocated to training activities (35.8%), which seems to have affected north-eastern training institutions in particular, followed by delay of public funds transfer (30.3%), affecting southern regions in particular;
- other crisis-related problems are: 17.2% of training institutions have been affected by a drop in demand from individuals and enterprises; 4.2% of training institutions, especially in southern Italy, complain about difficulties in access to credit. Only 11.5% of training institutions do not report any particular crisis-related problems. The main consequences, however, are reduction of training activities, especially in north-eastern regions of Italy, and the inevitable delay in paying salaries to training institutions’ staff, which is reported by almost 20% of those surveyed.
To counter critical circumstances, several strategies and arrangements have been put in place, from a wider variety of training activities, to introduction of technological and organisational innovations, to search for alternative funding.