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ITALY: New Salesian education program helps students bridge school, real work experience

(MissionNewswire) The Vocational Training Center of the Salesian Institute in Udine, Italy recently completed its first year of an innovative new dual school-work program. The new program allowed 18 young men studying courses in the mechanical industry to graduate with real work experience thanks to workplace apprenticeships. The Salesian school helped the young men identify companies and build relationships to aid students in making an easier classroom to work experience.

The project was met with positive feedback from both students, who have also had the fortune of finding a job opportunity in such difficult times, and by coordinators and teachers, who are enthusiastic about being part of such a new experience.

“Once we overcame our initial fears, I quickly adapted to the new pace required of work. I had a great relationship with the employer and colleagues, who were always available to help me and teach me something new,” says Santiago, one of the students in the dual class.

In order to have a seamless process, Salesian missionaries worked to ensure there was a clear definition of the apprentices’ work duties and the companies’ involvement with the school. The project was headed by Professor Guerrino Castellani, coordinator of the dual class in collaboration with Professors Carlo Lucis and Giulio Armano. The head of administration, Dr. Cristina Salvador, reported that the school found great interest from employers in experimenting with this new way of establishing a working relationship with youth.

The program has also changed how information is taught. Prof. Castenetto, a mechanics educator, noted he organized his course by paying more attention to the technical-applicative aspects, examining a problem to try to solve it. He made this change because many students who are going to work in sectors such as welding or machine tools will have to deal with the problems themselves.

“Salesian missionaries know how important it is to provide poor and disadvantaged youth access to education and employment training both for the individual student’s professional development and for the economy,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “This new dual education programs is a great opportunity to educate poor youth and provide important social and vocational skills.”

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.



ANS – Italy – School-work alternation experience of Salesian Institute “Bearzi”

UNICEF – Italy Poverty

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