Guidance System in Italy

Overview

The Italian guidance system is made up of a wide range of public and private guidance providers (VET providers, higher education institutions, regional school boards and the “new comers“ chambers of commerce) and activities are provided in different settings (education, training, employment, community), but mainly in the educational and the employment systems.

With reference to the former, which the Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) is competent for, schools play a central role in guidance processes (from 3 to 19 years); they promote and implemente, either independently or in cooperation with public and private actors, guidance activities aimed at building and strenghtening specific guidance skills.

The employment system falls partly under the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies (MLPS), which defines the general guidelines for career guidance, partly under the 21 Regional Authorities and Autonomous Provinces, which are sovereign in this policy area. As a result, regional and local Authorities organise and manage autonomously career guidance activities, which are carried out by a variety of Public Employment Services (PES) - approximately 800 across the country- such as:

  • employment centers
  • local career guidance centres
  • infoyouth points.

Many vocational training agencies provide also guidance services helping young people to choose their own educational pathway and integration into the labour market.

As for the private sector, according to the recent Chambers of Commerce Reform Act (25.11.2016), chambers of commerce are entrusted with career guidance functions also through cooperation with public and private competent bodies.

Career guidance services are also offered in work-based contexts both by employers and trade unions organizations.

Finally, the recently established National Agency for Labour Market Policies (ANPAL) coordinates the national network of public and private services for employment policies and its task includes strengthening and modernizing PES also by focusing on improving quality of services and guidance activities.

Policy

In 2009 MIUR established a National forum for lifelong learning - connected with the European Policy Network on Lifelong Guidance and Euroguidance Network - aimed at ensuring effective cooperation and coordination between actors in charge of the provision of guidance services at national, regional and local level.

The key guidance policy goals are set out in the National guidelines for lifelong guidance (MIUR, 2014) which were shared with all stakeholders and relevant insitutions, taking into account the Agreement between Government, regional and local authorities on: “Definition of Guidelines of national lifelong Guidance system“, the Italian Youth Guarantee implementing Plan and the Ue objectives. The National guidelines establish a general framework for the development of educational guidance via two main measures:

  • guidance-oriented teaching, aimed at building basic guidance skills by developing key competences - knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will help learners find personal fulfilment and, later in life, find work and take part in society
  • accompanying actions, intended to support youngsters in exploiting the learning outcomes in order to enable them to build their own life path and to take meaningful decisions.

In order to promote operational and systematic guidance processes, each educational institution should provide:

  • a guidance activities coordinator
  • training modules for in-service teachers on lifelong and lifewide guidance
  • documentation of completed guidance activities
  • awareness-raising and training initiatives addressed to parents to help them to support children

Last October the Italian Ministry of Education published a set of Guidelines on Pathways for transversal skills for guidance purposes (MIUR, 2019). Such pathways replace what used to be referred to as "school-to-work" transition pathways.

The Guidelines highlight the guidance potential of these pathways, as they help students make more informed choices about their personal and social development, on the basis of a self- guidance approach.

Services and Practice

Guidance within the educational system: targeted at students aged 14-19 and provided by class teachers and school counsellors consist of activities aimed at improving self-knowledge about personal capacities, attitudes and expectations. In this context, guidance supports also the design of personal goals within education and working life. According to national law n.107/2015, in order to ensure a smoother transition into the labour market, upper secondary school in all thematic fields (from grammar schools to vocational institutes) are requested to provide school-to-work transition pathways; these are conceived as a guidance tool for students by enabling them to know different work-based contexts and therefore to choose the right training opportunity.

Guidance in Higher Education: most universities are equipped with Career Guidance Offices, supporting students in choosing the most appropriate training pathway and in getting an overall picture of labour market trends and related job opportunities. Some universities also provide information about their training provision via job and career fairs or via“Open Days“; in this area, universities may be supported by research centres, professional associations, associations of enterprises, etc.

Career Guidance within the employment system is mainly carried out by PES managed by Regions; PES offer an array of activities ranging from information services, guidance and counselling to support during the job search and/or placement (apprenticeship, traineeship). All services are provided on the basis of the user’s specific needs (young adults with problems in entering the labour market, unemployed people, laid off people, women returnees, people age 45 and above, etc.).

For Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) aged 15–29, the Ue Youth Guarantee Initiative offers specific measures. Italy has a dedicated National Operational Programme for NEETs, which envisages 9 standard actions defined at national level, including guidance and counselling activities, trainings, traineeships, and civil service.

In order to reach out to a wider and younger audience, web-based platforms and databases have recently been created by MIUR, MLPS, Regional Authorities and Autonomous Provinces, universities (i.e. AlmaLaurea InterUniversity Consortium), associations of enterprises, bilateral agencies and chambers of commerce. Some platforms provide students with information necessary to make sound educational and training decisions, while others are specifically designed to support labour demand/ supply matching.

Training

In Italy there are no formal requirements to become a guidance practitioner, who is usually selected on the basis of a professional background which should prove medium/high educational level (diploma or University degree) and completion of training including sociological, psychological, economical and psycho-pedagogical studies (graduate and post-graduate courses in Economics, Law, Psychology, Political Sciences, Science of Education) and a field experience. In addition, is quite common to have completed further training focused on guidance, usually promoted by the Ministry of Education, schools, vocational training agencies and PES. Some Regions also organize long-term further education programmes for employees working in the guidance sector. Finally, guidance training courses addressed to practitioners of vocational training agencies and other associations have been organized.

Research and Development

At national level there is no specific institution dedicated to conducting studies and research on lifelong guidance issues. MIUR promotes research on related themes in cooperation with national research institutes and academic centres. In addition, single universities, associations of enterprises and private organisations carry out research activities in the context of projects receiving financial support from national resources and more often EU funds.

The Guidance Report: challenges and goals for a new labour market published in 2011 by the Institute for development of workers’ vocational training (former ISFOL) with MLPS represents the first survey carried out at national level on the Italian guidance system. The survey gives a picture of the demand and provision of guidance services, as well as describes the main features of the organizations involved.

Last updated at: January 2020