6.5 Cross-border learning mobility
Mobility opportunities for cross-border learning and work are promoted in Italy through the use of European programs that are used by schools, training institutions, local authorities and associations. Italian school legislation supports study abroad experiences and regulates the recognition of studies carried out abroad for the purpose of readmission to Italian schools. The Ministry of Education has issued several notes to frame such experiences in the educational pathway. Communication prot. no. 2787 /R.U. 20 April 2011 of the Department of Education - DG School regulations and school autonomy qualifications obtained abroad, 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 personality resulting from them, educational institutions are invited to facilitate this type of education as far as possible, in compliance with the relevant regulations. 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 stays abroad and foreign students who are guests of the institution.
Main international student mobility programmes (formal education)
In Italy, the main scholarship program for cross-border student mobility is the Youth Fund, which 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 ss.mm.ii.). 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 recognises study experiences in a foreign country as an integral part of the study pathway in Italy. Therefore, the stay outside Italy is not considered a lost year within the educational pathway: students do not have to take a qualifying examination (exams in September) and, at the end of the experience abroad, they are readmitted to their class 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 helps the European Commission, EU countries, employers' organisations and trade unions match 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: (a) promote a communication campaign for families, apprentices, VET (Vocational Education and Training) providers and companies; (b) support participation in the transnational network for training providers and companies of EFTA (European Free Trade Association), aimed at improving the mobility of apprentices; (c) make more use of the Erasmus mobility programme, including foreign language courses.
There are also other programs for international incoming mobility and at university level aimed at stimulating the mobility of young people. What are they? Cross-border mobility initiatives refer to the European programs, Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps, as well as all the initiatives, activities, events and opportunities offered by the National Agency for Youth. As part of the ITACA High School Program, a program recognised by the Ministry of Education, calls for applications have been issued for scholarships for students aged between 14 and 18 years attending between the second and fourth year of secondary school in Italy, with the aim of enabling them to participate and attend a trimester, semester or entire school year abroad.
Promoting mobility in the context of non-formal education and youth work
In this field, it is worth mentioning the initiative of the Conference of Italian University Rectors - CRUI Foundation to set up internships for university students. The CRUI Foundation's internships are based on joint programs with prestigious entities and institutions interested in hosting young university students for a period of on-the-job training. Since 2001, the year of the first program with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, more than 18,000 internship positions have been offered, presented in more than 150 calls for applications, with a wide variety of choices for candidates, both in terms of the geographical location of the internship site and the different types of activities to be carried out and the diversified 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: formalise a written traineeship contract, establish learning and training objectives and the rights and obligations of the trainee, ensure adequate working conditions, set a reasonable duration (the suggested duration is 6 months, unless extended for the purpose of job placement), and promote 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 document approved is the Agreement of 25 May 2017 between the Government, the Regions and the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano on the Guidelines on training and orientation internships.