We4Youth and Enel’s school-work model

Published on Thursday, 29 March 2018

“Our consolidated “dual apprenticeship” model has been a success story for the youngsters at the centre of the programme. They have consolidated their skills and abilities. The model has also been a success story for the company that has invested in their potential for innovation, as well as for the educational system that has been enriched by an effective synergy between business and education. We are proud to have opened this “quality path” to other companies, which we hope will grow in number”

– Filippo Contino, Head of Industrial Relations - Human Resources and Organization Italy, Enel

A strategy against youth unemployment

The research was presented in Milan at the Corriere della Sera Foundation on 21 March, as part of the European Pact for Youth initiatives: the strategy launched by the European Commission and CSR Europe in 2015 to develop partnerships between companies and the educational system, supporting employability and the inclusion of youth in Europe.

The Italian action plan supported by Enel involves about 125,000 students and 4,700 teachers. 4,000 collaborations have been set in motion up to today, creating 16,000 new youth employment opportunities. It is therefore possible to counter the NEET (Not Engaged in Employment, Education or Training) phenomenon, which now applies to 7 million young Europeans. For Adriana Spazzoli, President of the Sodalitas Foundation, the 25 research cases are successful models that will be presented over the coming months in three Italian regions (Piedmont, Lazio and Sicily) on a road show for the promotion of quality partnerships.    

“A great deal of research at a European level documents how the work training experience significantly increases the employability of youngsters. The first 25 success stories we have presented highlight the fact that the integration between companies and schools is possible throughout Italy”

– Adriana Spazzoli, President of the Sodalitas Foundation

The Enel model

Our Group’s programme for alternating school and work has deep roots. In 2014-2015 we were the first company in Italy to stipulate around 150 contracts for high-level training apprenticeships with students in their second last year, with the aim of having training periods in companies recognised in the school curriculum. After the Jobs Act was approved by the Government, senior secondary education was directed exclusively to first level apprenticeships. We then developed our alternating model with this in mind. Through the apprenticeship required to earn their diplomas, we help students acquire the technical-specialist knowledge and operational skills which are suitable for the labour market. They are placed directly in field activities earlier than would normally be the case. In this way they don’t have to spend their first working years integrating the theoretical foundations of their studies.

The process of corporate professionalisation thus becomes faster by optimising the turnover of skills. Youngsters, school teachers and company tutors are all involved in co-planning activities. This encourages everyone to think about managing the experience and evaluating the results. At the same time it allows for a comparison of the methods of observation and an evaluation of skills and soft skills (teamwork, problem solving, proactive behaviour and responsibility).

The 2016/2018 programme lasts 36 months. In addition to the Senior Secondary School Galilei-Sani students of Latina, it also involves 140 apprentices from seven technical institutes of seven regions, while for the two-year period 2017-2019, 30 additional apprentices from two technical institutes in Abruzzo have been included. Over the course of these two years, students will participate in a paid apprenticeship in the company lasting 1,400 hours (including 280 hours of lessons with exercises in the laboratory).

Work-based learning experiences

The results of Enel’s first experience in 2014 show the students’ complete satisfaction with the organisational aspects of the programme, the tools and equipment they are provided with, as well as the quality of the relationship formed with the company tutors. This satisfaction is also evident in the 263 research questionnaires promoted by the Sodalitas Foundation in collaboration with the JPMorgan Foundation. Its Senior Country Officer Guido Nola highlighted the need to support schools in the transformation of the Italian educational system through Work-Based Learning Experiences.

“The quality experience of alternating school-work programmes is desirable and represents a fundamental step in facilitating the integration of youth into the working world, favouring more effective orientation towards more satisfactory study and career paths”

– Guido Nola, Senior Country Officer, JPMorgan Foundation

More than anything else, the questionnaires revealed the work environments’ effectiveness in conveying respect for an organisation’s rules, as well as the consolidation of relationships with colleagues and managers, in addition to developing a sense of responsibility and a willingness to work as a team.

However, four basic conditions are required to achieve these results, which are all met by Enel’s apprenticeship programme: first of all, the skills that are taught must not only be of a technical-specialist nature, but across the board: in other words, they must help develop the students’ critical skills. In this way they can adapt more easily to different environments, which is useful for the evolution of their working career.

At the end of the programme students must also be able to orient themselves in relation to their study path and future employability, while training institutions and businesses must monitor every phase of the organisational process.

Finally, as regards co-planning, evaluation practices are necessary. Not only do they help improve the organisation of the programme within the company, they also encourage the students’ to reflect on – and learn from – their experiences.

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