Italy – Vocational Training, Company Internships, Safety: Fr Bonalume speaks out

16 February 2022

(ANS - Rome) - The recent cases of fatal accidents on the job, at work, involving young people during alternating dual school-work programs have rekindled the debate on the advisability of having students carry out training experiences in private companies. To the point that some have called for the abolition of alternating school-work and any other activity that sees students in close contact with the business world. A short-sighted vision that, as Fr Fabrizio Bonalume, Director General of the Centro Nazionale Opere Salesiane - Formazione e Aggiornamento Professionale, or  CNOS-FAP, the Vocational Training sector of the National Center of Salesian Works, explains, does not take into account the variety and richness of these courses, which the Salesians have been offering for over a century and a half.

Director, what is the value of vocational training in Italy?

In Italy we have a very elevated school dropout rate, but in the regions where there are Vocational Education and Training programs, this figure decreases significantly. Not all young people have the same aptitude for learning through theoretical study and there are also other objective difficulties that must be remembered, such as the linguistic difficulties of many foreigners who have recently arrived in Italy, or the economic difficulties of many families. There are many young people who come to attend our courses after having suffered failures and one of the greatest satisfactions of their teachers is to see their self-esteem reborn when they realize they know how to make something with their own hands.

What is the relationship between the training centers and the companies?

A strong point of Vocational Training is precisely the relationship with companies that indicate the qualities required of a young person so that he can succeed in the world of work. Companies emphasize first of all the importance of soft skills, transversal skills, the indispensability of knowing how to relate to adults and the enthusiasm to learn a job better and better.

How are company internships organized?

During the internship periods, young people have the opportunity to develop all these skills. Before the internship they attend courses on safety, both basic and related to specific risks, and then in the company they are supported by an experienced worker who knows the dangers present in the company. This allows the boy to grow with a "personal professor", something unthinkable in school workshops or laboratories. The student also has the opportunity to familiarize himself with technologies that are not always present in Vocational Training Centers.

Does this "bridge" between school and work actually work; is it effective?

Our experience shows that one year after the end of the course 92% of students are working or have resumed their education and training, that about 40% of these find work and that more than 30% find work at the company where they did their internship.

Students are asking for more safety: what can be done?

It is necessary to increase the culture of safety and this is what Vocational Training has done in recent years. But the young people who attend these courses enter a company knowing practically all the machinery, and if the experience in the company did not exist, the young people would be hired directly as apprentices, alongside a worker, but immediately with the task of producing. The problem of safety would arise immediately.

There are, however, those who consider alternation to be exploitation by companies...

If the alternation is done well and therefore ensures the presence of the company tutor, this experienced worker will make less for the company. Certainly, during the internship it is more likely that the company will lose out, but company gets to know the boy and perhaps have a positive return in the long run.



ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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