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Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Italy: Structure and Changes at National and Regional Level


  • Margherita Russo


  • Paola Mengoli



Even though the institutional framework is strongly centralised, Italy displays important territorial differences in the education system. Historically, such differences are interwoven with territorial differences both in economic and social development. This is the background of our analysis of technical and vocational education and training in Italy. In particular, in Section 1 we shall characterise the national education system; in Section 2 we shall outline the process of reform that has led to the present system of technical and vocational education and the main features of the regional vocational system. Within this framework, we shall present our main thesis – namely, that the system of technical and vocational education is also influenced by action undertaken at local level by the social actors who promote and fuel economic and social development. It is not possible to describe the several territorial specificities which ought to be taken into consideration if one is to speak of Italy as a whole: this because there are no systematic data to enable such analysis to be performed. In this paper, we shall therefore consider only the case of Emilia Romagna (Section 3), which is representative of areas of the Centre North having a highly developed local economy. In this context, we shall concentrate on three points: the role of technical and vocational education in the diffusion of the skills that encouraged the development of small and medium enterprises in the 1950s; the transformations in the last twenty years and, eventually, the process of adjustment of the training system within the changes both in the productive structure and in the composition of the population (age, origin). The last section draws together the threads of our interpretation of the system of technical and vocational education in Italy. Our analysis highlights three goals for a reform of the Italian education system: (1) to revise the meaning of primary literacy; (2); to fuel a social tendency towards technical and vocational education and training; (3) to bridge territorial differences in the education system. The first goal implies an education policy opposing the tendency to limit the possession of knowledge merely to a narrow minority of the population. The second goal considers technical and vocational education an essential element for activating a virtuous circle of growth, starting with a nucleus of knowledge learnt at school that thereafter is diffused and filters down in the tissue of technical and social relations. The last goal in our list calls for policy measures stressing the importance of the interweaving of social and economic sphere and education and training system The attainment of these goals requires sweeping changes involving several fronts of political, economic and social action. With regard to this, we argue that a necessary condition for a convincing start of the process of change is the redistribution of competences between the State and the local authorities. This implies redefining the role of teachers and directors of the individual schools, and the role and competences of the local authorities.

Suggested Citation

  • Margherita Russo & Paola Mengoli, 1998. "Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Italy: Structure and Changes at National and Regional Level," Department of Economics 0255, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
  • Handle: RePEc:mod:depeco:0255

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    Cited by:

    1. Margherita Russo & Giorgio Allari & Silvano Bertini & Paolo Bonaretti & Elio De Leo & Giuseppe Fiorani & Gianni Rinaldini, 2000. "The Challenges For The Next Decade: Notes On The Debate On The Development Of The Emilia-Romagna Region," Working Papers wp176, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.

    More about this item


    Analysis of Education; Education Policy; Regional development policies; Innovation;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • R58 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Regional Development Planning and Policy


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