SCHOOL AND WORK / The learning “reform” that can help young people

The Italian labor market was never a place for young. Now that I started dealing with youth policy about 50 years ago, I remember that the subject of special legislation for youth employment was present in all the electoral programs and each legislature proposed new rules that would solve the problem. The main issue has always been the path of job placement after schooling and we have always tried to act through tax breaks or employment contracts that favor the employment of young people at lower costs.

Of course, all this did not lead to significant changes in the overall situation. As economic theory teaches, the choice to hire new employees depends not on comfort but on growth in demand. Only if it requires professional skills that are compatible with those of young workers, is it possible that the tax advantage leads to new employees. Due to the prevalence of small businesses in our production system, the impact has always been limited and has led to a classification that is often below the level of competencies that young people acquired during training. The strong mismatch in the flight abroad of many young people with higher education, which we still note today, is the legacy of policies that are not capable of undermining the underground imbalances of our school work paths.

The school and university reforms that have been introduced in the last 20 years have not affected these issues. During the reorganization of the courses, the opportunity was lost to shorten the overall training, due to the revision of the compulsory phase and only in the last phase we tried to introduce alternative courses. It is a pity that the later government also canceled the first and weak attempts to bring the work experience into the educational pathways.

In the context of generalized difficulties in integrating young people into the workforce, a comprehensive proposal for the revision of the curriculum was recently presented, including the subject of internships and Stagen.

The stated aim is to facilitate the use of apprenticeships as a main contract for young people and to limit the use of internships and apprenticeships as they are a source of exploitation and subsistence. These contracts must be limited to a single case in the professional life of the people and be included in the current academic career. Outside of curricular occasions, they must provide contractual forms of employment in all senses, retaining their characteristics as evidence of employment, but not to the detriment of workers’ protection and rights.

The hypothesis of intervention on the curriculum seems rather more interesting instead. However, the proposal to the attention of the Parliamentary Labor Committee seems to repeat the mistakes of the past.

If there have been any changes in the schooling pathways, it is because of the introduction of the dual system in our vocational training system. A proper training path was thus introduced through work corresponding to the traditional school path. Also, we finally have the opportunity to acquire skills at the university level from the first level of the VET to the tertiary level of ITS. I study, work at the same time, I enjoy an income in between work and education and I get where I used to only be able to go through school. Of course, the system provides bridges between the two parallel courses of school and vocational training.

Supporting this path are learning contracts. However, the former system did not completely replace them and there is also the vocational teacher who, due to his training load (only 120 hours against the 500 of the dual system) deserves to be treated in a diversified way.

Trying to give general indications, one can intervene on two levels.

The professionalization contract could be the basis for replacing non-curricular internships and internships. It could have a different duration according to sectors and competencies based on minimum levels defined by law and rules by sectoral agreements. Wage levels, quantity indicated per single company, and tax benefits modulated on transformations and permanent contracts can be the characteristics that combine work protection and business interests.

The teaching office would thus be the training route between school and work, which characterizes the dual system in the rest of Europe as well. However, if we want to get the model of the pitch, we should review the weights and responsibilities of all concerned.

First of all, it must be noted that the success of these courses lies in bringing the learning space, of all levels considered, to the completion of the training started. So there are two goals to be achieved. Acquired the skills to have a recruitment that recognizes the level of education attained, but also a lower number of dropouts from the training path.

The first goal concerns the company in general, but the second goal concerns the training subject that supported the company and could involve the young people in a way of school and work.

Recognizing this allows us to review the traditional approach that brings all the responsibility to the company, weighing down the teaching staff with bureaucratic burdens. The training company can become the right job advisor by taking away some of the company’s responsibilities and teaching staff the continuity of the path even in the event of a change in entrepreneurial identity.

It would be a turning point that shows that we really put youth work and the provision of employment opportunities at the center of a reform for many who today leave school or education and the number of No.

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