ITALY: CIOFS-FP operated by Salesian sisters celebrates 50 years providing vocational training for women
(MissionNewswire) The Centro Italiano Opere Femminili Salesiane (Italian Center for Salesian Feminine Works or CIOFS-FP), located in Rome, Italy, is celebrating its 50th anniversary providing vocational training for women in Italy. A two-day event is planned including a delegation from the center participating in the audience of Pope Francis and a meeting session scheduled to highlight the pedagogical and historical meaning of CIOFS-FP and its impact.
CIOFS-FP is run by Salesian sisters, also known as, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, and provides skills training to help women gain employment with a focus on encouraging entrepreneurship. While the CIOFS-FP organization headquarters is located in Rome, there are smaller training centers located throughout Italy. More than 90 percent of women graduating from CIOFS-FP programs find employment.
The courses taught are specific to the needs of the local market. In Italy, there is a large gap between the skills learned in school and the skills needed in the employment sector. Salesian institutions tailor their educational programs to meet the local market needs so graduates are easily able to find and retain employment.
“There are many barriers to education for young women and girls, but Salesian programs in Italy and around the globe work to eliminate those barriers and provide education and skills training to all,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian missionaries have seen that young women who are able to access education are more often able to achieve financial independence and make better and healthier choices that affect not only themselves, but their families and communities as well.”
The Salesian sisters began their work in the country with houses for women and then an oratory. They also offered family workshops for young women and girls that taught various levels of sewing and evening classes for young women who were working in factories. Later, the sisters opened agricultural, artisan and business schools. The education provided has constantly changed to keep up with the evolving needs of the work sectors within Italy and the smaller communities where the centers are located.
In Italy, young people who are unemployed and not in school or training programs represent 20 percent of the population. Vocational training is as an educational path that serves as a highly effective bridge between school and work.
Italy, Europe’s third-largest economy, has close to 2 million children living in poverty, according to UNICEF. The poverty rate has risen in the wake of Europe’s economic crisis. Unemployment is at its highest level since the late 1970s with the overall jobless rate at 12.5 percent and youth unemployment as high as 41 percent.
Salesian programs across Italy help youth who are unable to attend school and others who drop out to work at the few jobs available to them. A growing number of children work as laborers on farms and others have turned to the sex trade to help support their families. Those in poverty often live without adequate shelter, hot water, regular meals and health care.
According to UNICEF, a growing number of youth are living away from their families in temporary shelters and within government and charity programs because of inadequate support from or neglect by their families. Salesian programs work to combat these challenges by providing shelter, nutrition, education and workforce development services for youth in need.
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