6.5 Cross-border learning mobility
Mobility opportunities for cross-border learning are promoted in Italy through European programs that are used by schools, training institutions, local authorities and associations. Italian school legislation supports study experiences abroad and regulates their recognition for the purpose of readmission to Italian schools. The Ministry of Education and Merit issued several notes to frame such experiences in the educational pathway. DG School regulations and school autonomy qualifications obtained abroad (Communication prot. no. 2787 /R.U. 20 April 2011 of the Department of Education), clarifies that participants in individual mobility programmes do not need certificates of equivalence as this refers to final qualifications obtained in foreign schools. In view of the significant educational value of study experiences abroad and the cultural enrichment of the student's, educational institutions are invited to facilitate this type of education as far as possible, in compliance with the relevant rules. Note no. 843/2013 Guidelines on individual international student mobility aimed at facilitating schools in the organisation of activities aimed at supporting both Italian students participating in study and training abroad and foreign students who are guests in the institution.
Main international student mobility programmes (formal education)
In Italy, the main scholarship program for cross-border student mobility is the “Fund for the support of young people and to encourage student mobility” provided for by the DL of 9 May 2003, n. 105, converted with amendments by the DL of 11 July 2003, n. 170, which supports the international mobility of deserving students and focuses mainly on the socio-economic situation of students.
Higher education institutions may have a certain degree of autonomy in defining the eligibility criteria for mobility grants and the target student population. The basic legislation for international student mobility is included in the Consolidated Text of the School (art. 192 of DL 297/1994 and subsequent amendments). The most recent text is the Note on Individual Mobility addressed to the Directors of the Regional School Offices, which contains the guidelines for international student mobility. The Ministry of Education and Merit recognises study experiences in a foreign country as an integral part of the study pathway in Italy.
The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) contributes to the definition and implementation of EU vocational training policies. It monitors labour market trends and supports the European Commission, EU member States, employers' organisations and trade unions in matching the training provision with the labour market needs. In terms of apprenticeships and international mobility, transnational mobility is not considered a priority in the agendas of Italian regions, according to Cedefop. To move in this direction, two measures should be taken: increasing financial resources and strengthening the involvement of employers and training providers.
Data show low levels of participation of apprentices in the Erasmus mobility programme. There is no empirical data indicating which factors enable or disable the mobility of apprentices. However, some of them can be deduced from the structure and organisation of apprenticeships. Since an apprenticeship is an employment contract, all aspects of labour law (insurance benefits for accidents and occupational injuries, occupational diseases, health reasons, maternity, etc.) represent an obstacle to mobility, as the related costs are shared between different companies in different countries. Moreover, the mutual recognition between Member States is still lacking, particularly for the first-level apprenticeship scheme. Future actions should be implemented to improve and develop the mobility of apprentices, such as:
- promoting a communication campaign for families, apprentices, VET (Vocational Education and Training) providers and companies;
- supporting participation in the transnational network for training providers and companies of EFTA (European Free Trade Association), aimed at improving the mobility of apprentices;
- increasing the use of the Erasmus mobility programme, including foreign language courses.
Promoting mobility in the context of non-formal education and youth work
The Ministry of Education and Merit (MIUR) in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) and the Conference of Italian University Rectors’Foundation (CRUI), offer curricular internships for university students in all Italian diplomatic missions abroad. The internships allow students to acquire and integrate their training path with direct and practical experience in international activities.
Since 2001, more than 18,000 internship positions have been offered by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, presented in more than 150 calls for applications, with a wide variety of choices for candidates, be it in terms of the geographical location of the internship, of the different types of activities to be carried out and the various skills required.
Internships and work experience abroad are subject to the regulations of the host country. In order to standardise the regulation of traineeships, the European Union issued a Council Recommendation on a quality framework on 10 March 2014. For example, for extracurricular traineeships, it is recommended that member States apply certain principles:
- Formalising a written traineeship contract;
- Establishing learning and training objectives and the rights and obligations of the trainee;
- Ensuring adequate working conditions;
- Setting a reasonable duration (the suggested duration is 6 months, unless extended for the purpose of job placement)
- Promoting the proper recognition of traineeships.
In recent years, Italy has gradually aligned itself with the European indications. It is worth mentioning the Agreement of 24 January 2013 between the Government, the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano on the document containing Guidelines on internships, and the latest one approved is the Agreement of 25 May 2017.