Italy - Standardising internal process
Practice that is being quality assured
The Association’s quality management system has led to a standardised approach to internal procedures, business processes, defining tasks and responsibilities and analysing performance by management and the human resources department. The Association has used self-evaluation procedures, developed by the National Reference Point for Quality Assurance in VET (ISFOL http://www.rpnqualita.isfol.it) to analyse and compare internal processes against a set of national standards and to introduce improvements.
Approach to quality assurance
The Association’s quality management system is based on reviewing individual processes. Initially only the core business processes linked to the design and delivery of VET and guidance services were reviewed. Later, as the system developed, other “soft” processes were reviewed - such as student selection, reporting arrangements, accounting systems, learning outcomes. When necessary each process, and the associated procedures, has been revised on the basis of national and regional regulatory requirements. This process-led quality management system has allowed the Association’s to identify the needs of each VET centre and implement appropriate strategies which meet the local circumstances.
In 2007 and in 2010 the Association introduced Peer Review Methodologies on the basis of the guidance from ISFOL (Peer Review Handbook for Education and Training and the initial self-assessment guide for schools and training institutions). This identified the ever-increasing need to of benchmark performance against other VET providers and the importance of listening to the view of a wide range of stakeholders.
Each regional board in the Association CIOFS-FP sets annual targets in key areas identified by senior management. These targets are monitored and performance is analysed annually by the senior management team. The results are presented to each Board of Directors in order for system-wide change to be identified and implemented.
Data and feedback on performance is collected from:
- VET students who systematically complete satisfaction questionnaires, internship diaries, self-assessment, lesson observations, and final reports on their own performance. Students also participate in discussions on their courses by appointing their own representatives;
- companies where students complete work placements and training. Their views are collected on internship evaluation sheets and during meetings between the VET center and enterprise-based tutors;
- partners in the Association’s transnational projects using evaluation tools developed for these projects. In addition specific indicators are used to assess the strength of the partnership such as the quality of cooperation, each partners’ reliability and continued willingness to exchange information or collaborate;
- the VET trainers provide data on their team work, on how well training is coordinated and on the logistical arrangements for each project.
Internal stakeholders - tutors, coordinators, trainers, central support teams - and external ones - such as the companies for whom training courses are designed and implemented - are involved in the design of training phase and in delivering guidance and training. The companies help to plan VET activities in the classroom and during the work experience. They also help to define the training objectives to be achieved. Such objectives are monitored during the regular meetings of training course staff.
How the practice is improving quality assurance
The quality assurance activities have improved the flow of information and data between the national headquarters, the regional boards and VET centers. The use of consistent and reliable data has also provided the senior management team in the Association with the evidence they need analyse and improve the organisation.
What challenges were overcome?
It was important to:
- fully involve the human resources department in achieving the goals of the Association;
- analyse and improve the organisation of the training programs and VET centers so they could better meet the needs of the beneficiaries;
- enable comparisons to be made across the Association in order to facilitate collaborative learning;
- improve internal communications.
What were the lessons learnt
- The increasing importance of involving the human resources team in the Association to ensure to support continuous improvement of the quality management system.
- The use of a Peer Review methodology highlighted the strengths of the Association, and introduced some European indicators that had not yet been considered by Association.