1. Brief description of how the information, guidance and counselling services are organised. Ministers in charge / Umbrella organisations. Networks for different target groups
In Italy the Ministry of Education (Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca – MIUR) and the Ministry of Labour (Ministero del Lavoro e delle Politiche Sociali) are the main bodies in charge with guidance policies even though many public and also private institutions are in charge with guidance matters even though at different levels:
- Regional authorities (basically with policy and technical support functions);
- Provincial authorities;
- Municipal authorities;
- ASLs (Local Health Units) of the national health system;
- Decentralised offices of the Ministry of Education;
- IRREs - the education sector’s research bodies -;
- Public and private vocational training centres;
- Employers’ associations and trade union;
- Voluntary organisations.
2. Legal framework - Role and status of the guidance counsellors
At present there is no national framework set of rules producing any organised guidance system as such. That is despite the emphasis dedicated to this subject and bills, also very important ones, such as that of the CNEL (Consiglio Nazionale dell’Economia e del Lavoro – National Council of Economy and Labour) at the start of the ’80s which never amounted to anything.
Nevertheless, some legislative measures were introduced:
- Assigned guidance functions and services to various subjects, such as DPR (Presidential Decree) n. 616 of 1977 which ruled that school district authorities should be responsible for organising guidance within schools and regional authorities for vocational guidance;
- Acknowledged guidance as a strategic element prompting the creation of important services and activities but which in many cases are limited to users of the school, university and vocational training systems;
- Defined actions for specific target users (women, immigrants, young people, etc.) also implementing specific guidance actions and services targeted to specific groups such as InformaGiovani (youth information services), Sportelli donne and Sportelli immigrati (offices for women and immigrants).
The problem of integrating guidance policies was shifted from a central to a regional level at the end of the ’90s because of some rules (in particular law 59/97) which devolved to regional, provincial and municipal authorities some important administrative functions also related to education, training and employment.
In the ‘80s all provincial authorities set up dedicated guidance centres which provided innovative services to a wide range of users and institutions. These services were often financed by European Community funds and were part of specific projects.
As a result of the Decreto legislativo (Executive Order) 469/97 all Italian provincial authorities set up New Employment Centres also in charge with delivering guidance services in addition with the traditional job matching. Responsibilities in the field of the employment policies moved from the Ministry of Labour to regional and provincial authorities. That happened also for the management of the Eures centres (European Employment Services) in charge with offering information on the labour market conditions and with job matching in a European framework.
The decentralisation of job placement activities and labour policies and the creation of these new employment centres gave to the regional authorities responsibilities in the guidance field.
Alongside these structures other bodies are in charge with guidance activities such as vocational training centres, educational establishments, permanent territorial centres and services for specific target users such as information and guidance centres for women, for immigrants, Trade Union guidance offices for workers and unemployed people, etc..
The existence of one National Resource Centre for Vocational Guidance in Italy is also important for disseminating guidance best practices and new methodologies in the guidance field also coming from other EU countries.
The professional profile of the guidance practitioner has never been regulated in Italy and consequently this professional profile is not recognised at a national level. According to that there are no national training programmes in the guidance field even though there are some courses at a university level (University of Bologna, University of Milan, etc.) and lately also some masters, also managed in partnership with different universities (i.e. University of Pavia and Siena, University of Lecce, etc.).
The main reason for that is due to the lack of a national law and subsequently to a national framework where guidance counselling could find its own space. Guidance counselling is linked to the individual contexts of education, vocational training and employment. In addition, there is no national system for the accreditation of guidance structures despite a recent proposal (Isfol, 2002) as a result of D.M. – Ministerial Decree 166/2001.
All that led to fragmentation and to difficulty in obtaining data. For these reasons, reliable and detailed information about the number of persons employed, their age or sex is not available.
However, a wide range of professional roles can be identified.
Some roles are related to more general occupations, others are more specific to guidance and closely match the proposals made by Isfol on professional profiles (2002) in the operating model for accrediting guidance structures. Professional profiles working in the guidance fields include:
- Guidance trainers
- Guidance counsellors
- Psychologists (for supplying tests)
- Receptionists and information operators
- Labour market experts
- Evaluation experts
- Public relations experts
- Project managers
Skills and knowledge required by these staff categories are therefore very diversified but they mainly have in common training focused on social sciences such as Psychology, Educational Sciences, Sociology. Additional knowledge in the guidance field comes from refreshment and specialisation courses these experts attend and which are mainly organised by their local or regional public authorities.
Communications skills, willingness to work as part of a team, the ability to evaluate individuals and groups, knowledge of the labour market and of the education and training systems, knowledge of career development theories, etc. are main skills and knowledge required by these experts in order to fulfil their roles.
Such skills are evaluated by means of competitions or selection interviews.
According to the national institute for the training of workers (ISFOL) and to the research showed in a national congress on guidance (“Orientare l’orientamento. Modelli, strumenti ed esperienze a confronto”, Roma, 8th-9th May 2003) at least four fields of competencies affect guidance activities and services in general. In this research the following professional profiles are identified:
- A professional profile in charge with information oriented to guidance processes;
- One in charge with tutoring;
- One who gives support during the decisional processes of the client, that is a guidance counsellor;
- A professional profile which can be defined as an analyst of guidance politics and services.
In addition, some training courses for guidance counsellors organised both at a private and academic level are starting to envisage modules focused on the use of ICTs and on the acquisition of basic skills in this field.
3. Qualification of the school counsellors
In 1997 laws start to talk about activities of vocational guidance; these latter are included into instruction and training paths revised according to a principle of integration. The Document of the informal consulting group MURST-MPI (Ministery of University, Research and Scientific Research-Ministery of Public Education) on vocational guidance 29/4/1997 titled “Vocational guidance in Schools and Universities” underlined the need to create efficient information and vocational guidance activities and to develop the potentialities of a few vocational guidance activities performed so far. It is necessary to consider the schools autonomy which could lead to teaching activities on the base of the perspective of vocational guidance intended as a training activity aimed to empower skills which support the learning and the participation in the social and work environments.
As to the qualification of school counsellors, as mentioned above, there is no specific regulation in Italy and consequently this professional profile is not recognised at a national level.
NRCVGs – National Resource Centre for Vocational Guidance was set up by the European Commission in 1993 and form the European Euroguidance network. Each country in the European Economic Area has one or more Resource Centres and they are promoted at a national level by the relative Ministries of Labour and/or Education. Specifically, in Italy there is one NRCVG in Benevento (www.centrorisorse.org