Created in 2010 to train technicians in important areas for economic development, the Istituti Tecnici Superiori (Superior Technical Institutes), ITS, are higher technology schools closely linked to the production system. There are 103 in Italy, scattered throughout the country, and divided into six technological areas that considered “strategic” for the competitiveness of the country: energy efficiency; sustainable mobility; new life technologies; new technologies for Made in Italy; information and communication technology and innovative technologies for cultural assets and activities.
In the context of professionalizing tertiary education, they are one of the most significant innovations, integrating with the world of employment, and capable of intercepting innovation and change and turning them into training programs. In the perspective of the 4.0 technological revolution now underway, the ITS are already experimenting with the skills for new jobs in broadband services.
«ITS are relatively new but at the same time they are the training channel that has the greatest employment success in our country», according to Giovanni Biondi, president of Indire, – the National Institute of Educational Documentation, Innovation and Research, the oldest research institution of the Ministry of Education – which, on behalf of MIUR, creates and manages the ITS database and contributes to the definition of monitoring and evaluation criteria paths.
«We presented», Biondi continues, «the data from the monitoring of the results of the ITS courses which ended in 2017 and which were therefore planned in 2015. This analysis takes into account employment levels at 12 months from the end of the classes. Employment rates after one year continue to exceed 80%, as the courses are connected to a real need of companies, managing to capture the different tendencies of employment in the different trajectories of this great transformation. Moreover, 90% of those employed were recruited into an area consistent with the chosen study plan».
The ITS is a flexible system that is effective because it implements an organizational and didactic model capable of dialoguing with companies and renewing itself and its didactic offer over time: «Over 70% of teachers», Biondi explains, «come from the world of work. Students therefore are not interacting with a teacher but rather with a "technician" who is already working in companies. The teachers are not trained in pedagogy and are probably not experts in specific teaching methods, but they clearly managed to involve the students and to pass on to them something inspiring. Certainly they will have organized activities that they themselves perform in the company, lab activities that require knowledge and study but then need to be put practice. And that's where the motivation stems from. If the output of studying is limited to questioning or class activities, the whole course for the students will be limited to a gigantic abstract exercise that is written and spoken only and therefore is not very stimulating».
Following a selection processes, access is granted to students who have upper secondary education diplomas and those who have a four-year diploma in education and vocational training, who have attended an annual supplementary course in education and higher technical training. 44.9% of students who enroll in courses are between the ages of 20 and 24, 32.3% between 18 and 19. They are predominantly male, 72.6%, and 62.3% come from technical institutes; around 21.3%, on the other hand, are students with a high school diploma.
The courses last either two or three years (4/6 semesters – for a total of 1800/2000 hours), and the internship is mandatory and counts for 30% of the total hours of the entire course. The ITS allows you to acquire a Diploma Tecnico Superiore (Higher Technical Diploma) with the certification of the skills corresponding to the Fifth level of the European Qualification Framework.
The issue of mismatch between supply and demand finds an effective solution in higher technical institutes
The regions with the best performances in relation to graduation rate and employment rate are Piedmont, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Puglia. Below the average are Sardinia, Calabria, Campania, Sicily, Marche and Abruzzo.
«The issue of the mismatch between supply and demand”, says Biondi, «which is the source of a lot of youth unemployment, finds an effective solution in these training paths. If we remove from the calculation the courses that the monitoring has placed in the red area and are evaluated as "critical", the values would increase by another 3-4 percentage points. And, in some sectors like mechanics, employment rates exceed 90%».
These are significant numbers «that have pushed», Biondi continues, «to increase investments in this sector but which should entice the Regions to carry out an effective maintenance of the system, a system that rewards the best but should also allow more inclusion for others. We need to think about the areas and analyze the data: if we have employment rates that range between 81 and 92% in the most successful areas, we have to ask ourselves why some areas are at 57% and others don’t exceed 73%. In short, the system needs to grow, and like a young plant, it needs not only to be fertilized but also to be carefully pruned. Among other things, this would allow the creation of Foundations, perhaps better connected to local businesses».