School-work alternation, the Enel model

Published on Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A European pact for the future of the young that concentrates on work-based learning. Formative experiences to help young people get a taste of the professional world and then take their first steps within it. This is The European Pact for Youth project, which was launched in November 2015 by the continent’s largest network dedicated to corporate social responsibility, CSR Europe. It is a project that Enel has believed in right from the start.

Our Group began its own apprenticeship programme in 2014. As a result of this, the German dual model, which provides a strong connection between classrooms and the world of labour, was applied to Italy for the first time. In this way, Enel anticipated some of the cornerstones of “alternanza scuola-lavoro”, a school-work alternation programme that was launched across Italy following “the Good School Act” (Law No. 107 of 2015).

The results obtained in this 2-year period were presented by Marina Migliorato, Head of Sustainability Innovation and Stakeholder Engagement at Enel, at the first European Business-Education Summit. This was held on 23 November 2017 at the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels.

In September 2014, 145 apprentices were recruited from all over Italy, this followed an agreement signed with trade unions on 13 February that year. The working hours, tasks and remuneration were clearly set out, in line with the national contract for the electricity industry. The curricula were shared with authorities and technical institutes. This enabled the young people involved to obtain a double result: a technical diploma and their first, real working experience.

The project was divided into two phases. During the first 24 months, fourth and fifth-year students from technical and industrial vocational schools took part in a school-work alternation programme. This consisted of 800 school hours and the same number (280 of which were in workshops) at Enel’s facilities. Students spent one day a week during the school year at the company, with a full-time commitment during the summer. The second phase, over the following 12 months, involved recent school leavers with a level of qualification considered appropriate by Enel in a technical and practical vocational apprenticeship. In 2016 they were joined by another 140 young people who had just started their last year of school and who would take the State exam in June 2018. A further 30 youngsters joined them in September 2017.

This new relationship between education and practical work experience has already become something of a model. The OECD involved Enel in a workshop aimed at charting out strategies for improving skills. It recognises this experience as one of the most effective ways to bridge the gap between the skills provided by schools and those required by employers.

The European Pact for Youth is still a work in progress, and one that can undoubtedly generate new experiences. The Pact was signed in 2015 and its objectives were to create 10,000 high-quality school-business partnerships, to offer at least 100,000 new opportunities for work placement, and to develop 28 national action plans for competitiveness and employability in EU countries by the end of 2017. After just two years, the results presented in Brussels are most encouraging: the objectives were reached well ahead of time with 5.2 million students involved, 23 thousand partnerships and more than 160 thousand job opportunities.

In Italy, the national action plan was coordinated by a steering committee composed of Enel, the Sodalitas Foundation, Impronta Etica, Anpal Servizi, and Junior Achievement. In particular, Enel participated as the leader of one of the three working groups, namely that on “Apprenticeship and Vocational Training.”