Work fields for adult educators in Italy: challenges and opportunities

In document FLORERepository istituzionale dell'Università degli Studidi Firenze (Page 83-86)

Italy has recently started developing the issue of professionalization in the adult education field. The profile of the adult educator was established only after World War II, when Italy faced the issue of re-building the country through popular education. With this aim, adult educators started operating “in associations, in religious contexts and in schools for adults” (Boffo, Kaleja & Fernandes 2016, p. 122) for “promoting basic literacy and numeracy skills” (EAEA 2011, p. 4). The qualification of the profile was established some decades later, in 1997, through Ministerial Order 455/1997, which implemented the Permanent Territorial Cen-tres for Adult Learning and Training (CTP).

Over the same period, initial training for adult education at a higher level of education was also established. As a matter of fact, the study programme in adult education was implemented in 2001, when “the new policy on the length of de-gree programmes in higher education completely changed the face of the Italian university” (Boffo, Kaleja, Sharif-Ali & Fernandes 2016, p. 104). Law 240/2010 then implemented two different levels for initial training in adult education: a bachelor’s course – “Education and Training Sciences” – and a master’s course –

“Adult Education and Continuing Training Sciences” (Boffo, Kaleja, Sharif-Ali &

Fernandes 2016, p. 104). In this sense, the definition of the professional field of adult education

only includes those profiles from whom adult learning constitutes the primary or most sig-nificant source of income. Adult learning includes activities aimed at recovering educational skills also within professionalization pathways.

(Boffo, Kaleja, Sharif-Ali & Fernandes 2016, p. 105)

When it comes to the fields of adult educators, the Italian context presents opportunities for both the public and private sectors. In terms of the public sector, as stated above, the CTP scheme has represented the main development of adult education in recent decades. Nevertheless, the centres were replaced in 2012 by the CPIAs (Presidential Decree 263/2012), which focus more on delivering formal basic and secondary education. In fact, the provincial cen-tres for adult education and upper secondary school are now “responsible for organisation and teaching in second level adult education pathways” (Eurydice

Work Opportunities for Adult Educators in Italy 83

2015). Indeed, the CPIAs provide autonomous educational provision for adults and young adults “with specific and organisation structures […] organised in territorial service networks, generally at the provincial level” (Eurydice 2015).

They provide “first-level courses (divided into a first and second teaching term) and literacy or Italian language pathways […]; – second level courses (divided into three teaching terms)” (Eurydice 2015).

The first-level pathways aim to lead to the achievement of the first cycle of edu-cational qualification and the certificate of basic skills in compulsory education.

On the other hand, the second-level education pathways aim to help participants obtain “certificates of technical, vocational or artistic education” (Eurydice 2015).

The particular characteristic of this formal education is the personalization of pathways. In fact, “they can be personalised according to individual formative agreements upon recognition of the adult’s knowledge, formal, informal and non-formal competences” (Eurydice 2015). There are now 126 CPIAs distributed throughout the nation.

Professionalization in the public sector is an important issue for adult educa-tors, because “the profile of an adult educator is the same as that of a teacher (7 EQF)” (Boffo, Kaleja & Fernandes 2016, p. 123). In fact, CPIAs are formally considered public schools for adults and access to work is regulated. This produces a shift from adult “education” to “schooling”, which is also exemplified by formal requirements for the teaching profession. The analysis of formal qualifications and degrees for access in CPIAs provides an impression of how adult education is conceived in Italy. In fact, Ministerial Decree 92/2016 stipulates the requirements for teaching Italian language to the L2 level. Through in-depth analysis, we can point out that there are specific mentions of language and literature studies, with specialization in L2 teaching, but there are no requirements that refer to adult education degrees.

For this reason, we can state that the reform that took place in 2012, from CTP to CPIA, represents a huge step back from the broad concept of adult education as “an educational sector most closely connected with many other societal ac-tors” (Nuissl 2009, p. 127). The Italian pathway is heading towards a fixation on schooling, equating adult learning to that of school pupils. For this reason, for-mal requirements concentrate on basic knowledge and language degrees for high schools, with no attention paid to the soft and educational skills that are needed when working with adults.

On the other hand, adult education in Italy is represented by the private sector and the social economy. The term “social economy” is defined as:

Carlo Terzaroli 84

a specific part of the economy: a set of organizations (historically, grouped into four major categories: cooperatives, mutual, associations, and, more recently, foundations) that primar-ily pursue social aims and are characterised by participative governance systems.

(European Commission 2013, p. 12).

In the sector, “education and training are one of the main fields” (Federighi 2015, p. 121) “aimed at boosting the knowledge, competences and capacities of both the people to whom the services are aimed, and the people who operate within the social enterprises” (Federighi 2015, p. 125). From this perspective, education and training cover:

at least 75% of the social economy services:

– Social assistance services (e.g., childcare, eldercare, disability support);

– Education and training;

– Culture and recreation;

– Work integration, employment;

– Economic, social and community development[.]

(Federighi 2015, pp. 123–124)

Such a rich labour market provides many employment opportunities for adult educators, especially for those with a degree in adult education and continuing training. As a matter of fact, the analysis of educational provision in the social economy5 reveals many types of action. Educational events and services, the or-ganization of learning processes and training management, policies and strategies (Federighi 2015, pp. 125–126) are just some examples that could involve adult educators at the micro-, meso- and macro-level in the social economy.

In recent years, the increasing “demand from social enterprises for qualified workers seems to be accompanied by a progressive improvement in working con-ditions” (Federighi 2015, pp. 129). In fact, the phenomenon of expansion in the social economy and the consequent opportunities for employment contribute to the “professionalization of the staff working within the social enterprises” (Fed-erighi 2015, p. 129). If the initial phase of the social economy has been character-ized by volunteers, recent developments have produced “the start of qualification requirements […] for internal processes” (Federighi 2015, p. 129).

5 The arguments refer to the SALM research project Skills and Labour Market to Raise Youth Employment, which aims “to contribute to the development of innovative approa-ches and specific instruments to reduce youth unemployment, equipping young people with the right skills for employment […] considering for instance senior tourism and social services” (Carneiro, Chau, Soares & Sousa Fialho 2015, p. 7).

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Even though some research projects identified “a mismatch between the profes-sionalism that is demanded on the one hand and supplied on the other” (Boffo 2015, p. 160), there is a high demand for people with specific skills in the adult education field. In spite of this, in terms of professionalization, adult educators in Italy are still considered “weak professions from the viewpoint of establishing a specific category, with defined competences and a definite and recognized profile”

(Boffo 2015, p. 161). Nevertheless, social enterprises present:

the need for workers with transversal didactical-educational and communication-relational skills, but above all with competences in planning, accounting, needs analysis of the local area and of the companies involved in education and training.

(Boffo 2015, p. 161)

According to this overview of the national situation in the adult education field, we can state that the private sector expresses, in ways either implicit or explicit, a growing demand for workers with specific professionalism in adult education.

On the one hand, the challenge for these workers lies in the managerial and organizational skills that are also required in the workplace; this issue will be significant for the future of a closer relationship between higher education and the labour market.

In document FLORERepository istituzionale dell'Università degli Studidi Firenze (Page 83-86)