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wbv   Bundesverband der Lehrerinnen und Lehrer an Wirtschaftsschulen e.V.




European National and regional change drivers in the transformation of Italian VET system

The picture of Italian VET in 2005 is characterised by change – both exogenous and endogenous – and uncertainty. The national institutional framework for VET used to be as follows: a highly decentralised (regionalised, but with significant responsibilities attributed to Provinces in several regions) Vocational Training System, and a very centralised Education System (including vocational education) with very limited integration between them. In recent years a significant decentralisation process of education and a push towards integration of the different sub-systems are continuously changing the VET scenario, stimulating the interest of regional politicians towards the increased competencies offered by the Education System and sometimes neglecting the tradition of offering political leadership and specific innovation policies for vocational training. In terms of numbers (budget, people, electorate) this can be explained very easily: in terms of personal experience and political debate, it is easier to talk about schools than about Vocational Training. However, national reforms are not the only cause of a somewhat chaotic but certainly dynamic phase in the evolution of the VET system. A key exogenous driver is the variations in the amounts and priorities of European Structural Funds available, European priorities in the field of lifelong learning, regional cooperation and competition dynamics are all contributing to make life challenging for VET policy makers and practitioners. This article is an attempt to briefly explore the European, national and regional change drivers and to discuss their potential positive and negative impact on the VET system. Never before has the Italian VET system faced so many and such different factors of change; they are of different origin but they all hit a country which is facing a stagnating if not recessive economic context made even worse by structural problems of national industrial and service provision structure. If the unemployment rate is not extremely high in 2005, this is probably not so much due to the merits of the current VET system's ability to match labour demand and supply, but rather of a poor demographic development combined with relatively low labour market participation. The impact of VET on employment is uncertain because it is not systematically assessed. The uncertain situation of Italian VET deserves to be monitored with care, not least from a European perspective, because it represents – in our opinion – a very interesting case of co-existence of several innovation streams and resistance to change. No single policy framework can be identified, but rather several visions produced by a multiple set of stakeholders, each of them not really able to produce the change it desires, but all able to prevent major changes affecting its vital interest. That is why the European change drivers may be more important in Italy than in other countries, and may finally aggregate the little consensus that is nowadays possible in the Italian VET system.