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CIOFS-FP is a national, not-for-profit VET provider which is comprised of 13 Regional Associations and 61 vocational training centers. (Charts 1 and 2)

Chart 2 – type of training

CIOFS-FP’s quality management system uses ISO 9001 Standards to design the provision of training and guidance services. CIOFS-FP is particularly focused on initial vocational training; lifelong learning including work-based training; and personal development. In 2012 CIOFS-FP provided 738 VET courses or other activities for 16,611 students - 90% of which were financed by public authorities. (Chart 3)

All students on initial VET courses completer an internship in one of the enterprises in the CIOFS-FP database. Staff from CIOFS-FP manage the training process. This includes meeting representatives from selected enterprise to agree the arrangements for cooperation - the general, educational, operational and cognitive objectives of each internship are set in relation to the professional needs of the trainee. A CIOFS-FP tutor, working with a mentor in the enterprise, supports the trainee throughout each phase of their work-based experience:

  • in the preparatory phase – by presenting the work context and the behavioral code;
  • during the placement – trainees’ experiences are discussed and monitored in a systematic way;
  • at the end of the internship to evaluate the experience

Since 2000 CIOFS-FP’s VET providers have certified their quality management system using the process-based approach of ISO 9001. When this quality management system was first introduced the focus was on ensuring the quality of the core business i.e. the design and delivery of training and guidance services. As time passed, the focus moved to continuous improvement and more consideration for other processes e.g. the selection of students, the management of the internship, reporting on students’ performance, evaluating learning. For the quality assurance of each of these processes a new ad hoc procedure was created. All the processes and procedures are reviewed periodically based on European, national and regional regulations, and in accordance with EQAVET requirements and developments. The approach to quality assurance has allowed CIOFS-FP to be clearer about what the Association can and should deliver, and to analyse strategies which need to be put in place to support management and staff.

Some of CIOFS-FP’s VET providers have used the self-evaluation procedures designed by ISFOL (National Institute for Workers Professional Training) []. This has helped them to analyse their organisation using national parameters and this has created a series of actions which support improvement. Other VET providers have used the Peer Review methodology outlined by EQAVET’s National reference Point in Italy. This identified a need to compare the performance of CIOFS-FP’s providers with other VET organisations and VET provision at the system level.

CIOFS-FP’s quality assurance arrangements are inked to the following EQAVET indicators or indicative descriptors:                                       

  • All stakeholders take part to define goals/objectives of VET at all levels
  • Explicit goals/objectives and targets are set and monitored
  • Ongoing consultation with relevant stakeholders takes place to identify specific local/ individual needs
  • Staff undertake regular training and develop cooperation with relevant external stakeholders to support capacity building and quality improvement, and to enhance performance
  • Evaluation and review covers processes and results/outcomes of education including the assessment of learner satisfaction as well as staff performance and satisfaction
  • Learners’ feedback is gathered on their individual learning experience and on the learning and teaching environment. Together with teachers’ feedback this is used to inform further actions
  • Procedures on feedback and review are part of a strategic learning process in the organisation

CIOFS-FP work-based learning experience has proved effective because it puts learners at the centre of the action – learners can measures themselves in relation to their own skills, they can learn how to work with other people and in new situations, and they can see how the labour market works. The internship processes respond to the needs and expectations of the VET provider and the enterprises. The VET provider makes available and transfers to enterprises its know-how on how to organise and provide training on the transmission of skills using multiple modes of learning. The enterprises provide and transfer to the VET system their knowledge and experiences of technical skills specific to their sector of activity. The following charts show the focus of CIOFS-FP’s training:

Italy 2 Chart-5

CIOFS-FP internship procedures were benchmarked against other European VET providers as part of the process of entering the European Peer Review Association whose main aim is the dissemination of peer Review methodology and tools all over Europe network [].

CIOFS-FP also works with Label Enterprise Formation Europe (LEFE)
[] which aims to boost European internship and awards a Quality Label for EU enterprises which host trainees from abroad.

CIOFS-FP work-based learning is regularly evaluated:

  • by the three participants (students, VET providers and enterprises). This is based on a review of the reports and discussions on the results in order to improve performance and the work-based learning processes;
  • by a quality manager conducting an internal auditor of all the evidence and audit reports;
  • by peers from the Peer Review network – this includes interviews with enterprises, students, parents, tutors – and leads to a report of the peers’ visit.

CIOFS-FP has found, in line with the principles of quality assurance and EQAVET, that in the VET process it is essential to understand the needs of all the stakeholders in order to implement actions that actually create employment and work-based learning opportunities for young people. This requires CIOFS-FP to continually update its enterprise database with the results from each student placement in order to meet the needs of trainees and enterprises.

CIOFS-FP’s approach to work-based learning demonstrates the following Building Blocks:

  • Design – VET providers and enterprises jointly design the work-based part of the learners’ training activities. They jointly identify the general, educational, operational and cognitive goals of internship in order to meet the professional needs of the trainee;
  • Adapt - the training tutor, in agreement with the enterprise mentor, periodically contacts the trainee at the enterprise to check progress, identify the learner’s needs, and/or receive suggestions for improvement from the trainee and the enterprise mentor. If necessary, the internship is redesigned with the involvement of the enterprise mentor;
  • Communicate – communication flows are continuous between the training tutor and the enterprise mentor;
  • Train – each year CIOFS-FP’s VET providers offer national and local refresher courses for all staff
  • Assess – the work-based mentor completes the enterprise’s evaluation of each intern’s experience. These results contribute to the final evaluation of the student’s training;
  • Improve - agree with partner organisations how and when the quality of training will be monitored. There is a shared responsibility for improvements – VET providers and enterprises meet to establish the monitoring activities which will be used by the VET tutors and enterprise’s mentors. A record is kept of these and used to monitor the implementation of agreed improvements.

For more information on this case study contact:

Associazione CIOFS-FP -

CITY:   The national headquarters are in Rome. There are 61 VET providers located throughout Italy.

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