Study-work, the “Enel model” at Bocconi University

Published on Monday, 4 February 2019

The Bocconi University in Milan chose Enel in order to tackle the question of the “skills mismatch,” the discrepancy between the skills of graduates and the real needs of the labour market. In Italy, this discrepancy is proving to be a significant obstacle to the country’s growth: according to the OECD it amounts to a gap in earning potential of approximately 4,000 euro per employee p.a. This is a problem that Enel is working towards solving with its “dual-track apprenticeship programme: training that aims at recruiting senior school students, between the ages of 16 and 17.

Filippo Contino, Head of Industrial Relations Enel Italia, presented Enel’s experience at a round-table talk as part of the third J.P.Morgan-Bocconi policy workshop “From School to work: educational choices matter.”

“Dual-track apprenticeship was tested in Italy for the first time in 2014, when there was no clear regulatory framework – explained Contino – and since then it has become a structural part of Enel’s recruiting and hiring system. How does it work? Through interviews, we pick students in their third or fourth year of studies at 18 industrial technical institutes across Italy that were chosen with the assistance of the Ministry of Education, University and Research. The students who get selected then work at Enel, alongside the distribution and power plant technicians, one day a week during the school year and full-time during the summer break. Following a further apprenticeship period, at the end of the fifth year, they are hired on long-term contracts.”

The method adopted by Enel, with the help of 500 internal tutors, is providing excellent results: to date, approximately 350 people have been involved. On average their academic results have improved and starting from this year the Enel Group has decided to test a new training course for industrial technicians 4.0 with two classes, in Turin and Ravenna. “This is also a way of re-evaluating technical education, which is often mistakenly considered to be lower level while, on the contrary, it is at the heart of the huge development of small and medium-sized business that has taken place in Italy since the 1960s,” Contino added.

As Gianmario Verona, Rector of the Bocconi University, noted, the toll of “skills mismatch” in Italy is also linked to inadequate information provided to students and their families. According to a policy brief prepared by Massimo Anelli, an economist at the university, not only are there relatively few graduates in Italy, but their employment prospects tend to be no better than those of school leavers. Anelli sees this as being linked to the lack of information about the job opportunities and earning potential of the various faculties. “Career support should start early, at middle school – concluded Contino – because it is the only way we have to help students become aware of their real aptitude.”

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