Chapter 6. Enhancing coordination among different actors

Each Training Fund operates in a complex adult learning system, where different actors are responsible for delivering different types of adult learning programmes. Within this context, in order to ensure that training programmes reach all adults (including the unemployed), are mutually reinforcing, and do not overlap, it is important that Training Funds do not work in silos but work effectively together, with other actors involved in adult learning, as well as with the government. This chapter analyses what mechanisms are in place to enhance coordination across different actors involved in adult learning.


6.1. Improving coordination between Training Funds and other actors involved in adult learning

In the views of many stakeholders, one key challenge of the Training Funds system in Italy is lack of coordination. Too often, Training Funds work in silos and communication is unstructured both (i) across Training Funds, (ii) between Training Funds and other actors involved in adult learning (CPIAs; PESs; regions), and (iii) between Training Funds and the government.

Interactions across Training Funds remain most often ad-hoc, informal, and largely dependent on the goodwill of management board members, with little institutional/formal opportunity to meet on a systematic basis. This means that there are little opportunities for dialogue, cooperation, and sharing of good practices across Training Funds.

That being said, sporadic examples of coordination across Training Funds exist. One good practice is the initiative promoted by CGIL, one of the largest trade unions in Italy. Since 2017, CGIL has started bringing together CGIL member unionists involved in adult learning, including unionists in Training Funds’ management boards and in the regions (Coordinamento Fondi Interprofessionali Cgil Nazionale, forthcoming[1]). The objective of the initiative is to improve coordination among CGIL members, enhance the influence of CGIL in the development of training programmes, and ultimately improve the effectiveness of trade unions’ involvement in adult learning. In particular, CGIL has started carrying out two types of activities: (i) organise regular seminars – roughly on a monthly basis – around important topics such as skills certification, the national qualification framework, and the implications of new legal frameworks (e.g. the Law of State Aids, the ANPAL Guidelines) for the activities of the Training Funds; and (ii) conduct research studies that investigate how the role of trade unions has evolved in supporting the activities of the Training Funds. This initiative is a very welcome step in the right direction, that in the future could potentially be scaled-up to all Training Funds regardless of their trade unions affiliation.

Another – and related – policy option worth exploring would be to develop an electronic coordination platform dedicated to all Training Funds, with the aim to facilitate cooperation and discussion. In this respect, Italy could perhaps learn from the experience of the Netherlands, where training funds have established a coordination platform that provides them with an opportunity to share good practices, develop joint projects, and meet on a regular basis. As of today, 26 out of the 132 training funds currently operational in the Netherlands are part of the platform, including the largest training funds.

Coordination between Training Funds and other actors involved in adult learning (e.g. CPIA, PES, regions) is also important to limit overlap/duplication of interventions – which is fundamental in the context of limited budgets – and ensure that training opportunities reach everybody and are inclusive (see Chapter 3). Indeed, TF-supported training could be used to reach the target groups and/or develop the skills that are typically not reached/developed by other actors involved in adult learning.

Despite the potential benefits of coordination, at the moment there are little linkages between Training Funds and CPIA (Centri Provinciali per l'Istruzione degli Adulti), or between Training Funds and Public Employment Services (centri per l’impiego). And while Training Funds and regions do coordinate in some instances, dialogue takes place on an ad-hoc basis and is mainly limited to the sharing of information,1 and sometimes co-programming of grants. 2

Systematic coordination with government institutions is also important as it could help Training Funds better participate in the policy dialogue and ensure that their concerns and priorities are reflected in the policy agenda. Examples of good practices can already be highlighted. For example, the Ministry of Education (MIUR) and the Training Fund FonArcom have recently signed an agreement to reinforce the collaboration between the education system and the world of work (MIUR and Fonarcom, 2016[2]). Among the measures agreed upon, FonArcom has commited to finance training programmes in firms engaged in the implementation of Alternanza Scuola Lavoro – i.e. a compulsory work-based learning scheme targeted to all upper-secondary students, implemented in the context of the Buona Scuola Reform put in place by the Ministry of Education (MIUR).

While positive examples of cooperation do exist, more needs to be done in this area to make interactions with the government less scattered and more structured. While a National Observatory on Adult Learning (Osservatorio Nazionale sulla Formazione Continua) was established by the MLPS3 in 2003 for a period of three years, its mandate was never renewed and thus the Observatory is currently not operational.4 While several regional observatories on continuous learning have emerged since5, going forward one important possibility to enhance co-operation and co-ordination of training provision in Italy would be to re-establish the National Observatory on Adult Learning, building on the initiative already initiated 15 years ago. The Observatory could involve representatives from the MLPS, regions, INAPP, and Training Funds – and could be led by ANPAL. The Observatory could have different roles, including organising regular meetings to discuss important topics such as skills needs, improvements in the information systems, skills certification. Moreover, the Observatory could develop a national adult learning strategy – still lacking in Italy – and ensure that the activities of the Training Funds are well aligned to the skills priorities identified at the national level.

In a similar vein, the government could create a dedicated department in the MLPS that deals exclusively with Training Funds, along the line of what has already been implemented in other countries with a training levy in place. In South Africa, for example, the Department for Higher Education and Training has set up a Directorate – the SETA Coordination Directorate – specifically designed for interfacing with training funds (so-called SETAs), monitoring their activities, and organising regular meeting points.

6.2. Expanding Training Funds’ responsibilities towards the unemployed

Training Funds are increasingly called upon to play a greater role in the delivery of active labour market policies, and expand beyond their traditional target population (the employed) towards the unemployed, the inactive, and workers at risk of dismissal. Since the inception of the economic crisis, Training Funds have been proactively taking steps in this direction. For example:

  • Fondimpresa, upon derogation by the MLPS, in 2010 has devoted EUR 50 million to the re-training of redundancy workers (lavoratori in mobilità) to enhance their employability and facilitate their transition to work. On top of financing the training, Fondimpresa – together with social partners and training providers – also played another important role: it identified the firms that were willing to hire the redundancy worker, and financed training that responded to their needs; or, when this was not possible, identified the skills needs of the territory, financed training that responded to such needs, and assisted the trained redundancy workers with their job search. The initiative was very successful, with over 55% of beneficiaries finding a job after training (Fondimpresa, 2013[3]). These results are remarkable especially when considering that that PES typically manage to place only 3% of unemployed people after a training programme (Casano et al., 2017[4]).

  • Foncoop developed dedicated training grants6 targeted to firms with workers receiving social safety nets. Priority was given to training projects presented by firms with vulnerable workers, namely women, workers over 45, or low-skilled youth.7

  • Fondirigenti has recently destined EUR 800 thousand to managers who are involuntary unemployed and registered in the PES. Fondirigenti also has established an unemployment agency that collects the profiles of managers looking for jobs, in a view to retrain them and support their transition to jobs.

  • Other Training Funds (e.g. Fondimpresa) finance training of newly hired employees or unemployed/inactive people (provided that the firm hires the person after completion of training). Fonarcom is considering putting in place the grant “Forma e Ricolloca” (Train and Relocate) that finances training for firms taking on unemployed people. The training must last at least 40 hours of which 20 after a job contract is signed.

These initiatives show the engagement of Training Funds to go beyond their initial mission and play a more proactive role in the re-integration of unemployed people in the labour market and, more broadly, in the delivery of ALMPs.

What happens in Italy is not too different from what can be observed in other OECD countries with a levy system in place, where the role of the training funds has been expanding to help address the challenges brought about the economic crisis. In France, for example, training funds (i.e. OPCA) can contribute to financing training for new hires (previously unemployed registered in the PES) with the aim of closing the gap between the skills possessed by the new hire and the skills required in their new job (OECD, 2017[5]). In Ireland, while the focus of the Skillnet training networks lies in upgrading the skills of the employees of participating enterprises, many networks also provide training to unemployed workers under a programme separately funded by Skillnets Ireland – Job-seekers Support Programme (JSSP). JSSP training courses and work placements are solely for people that are unemployed, and in areas where Irish companies have skill gaps/needs.

It is noteworthy that in the Italian case these efforts remain ad-hoc and very much dependant on individual initiatives of Training Funds. The bulk of training programmes remain focussed on permanent and temporary workers (either full- or part-time), which absorb 87% of all TF-supported training programmes, while only 0.2% of training programmes are devoted to workers on safety nets or redundancy workers (see Figure 6.1 and Table 6.1).

Going forward, if the Training Funds have to start playing a more concrete role in the re-skilling of the unemployed and the delivery of ALMPs, there is a need to update the legal framework so as to ensure that the new responsibilities are reflected in the legislation.

Some steps in this direction have already been taken and the legal framework has recently been updated to ensure that Training Funds can play a bigger role in training the unemployed population. In particular:

  • The Jobs Act includes the Training Funds in the “Rete dei servizi e delle misure di politica attiva del lavoro” (network for the provision of active labour market policies), paving the way for better cooperation between Training Funds and the PESs in the delivery of ALMPs.

  • With the Jobs Act, Training Funds are also asked to contribute to the development of the “personalised service pact” (patto di servizio personalizzato) – an action plan stipulated between the unemployed and the PES aimed at improving the employability of the unemployed through several measures, including training.

  • According to the Jobs Act, Training Funds should also cooperate in the activation of unemployment benefit recipients.

  • More recently, the 2018 Budget Law extends the relocation allowance (assegno di ricollocazione) – previously only targeted to long-term unemployed (over four months) – to other categories of workers, namely employees of firms undergoing structural changes, and workers in the special lay-off fund (Cassa Integrazione). According to the recent law, Training Funds resources can be used to finance training for this category of workers.

While these adjustments are steps in the right direction, it remains unclear how they will be implemented in practice. For example, the network for the provision of active labour market policies is not yet operative, and therefore it will be important to monitor how, concretely, Training Funds will cooperate with other actors for the delivery of ALMPs.

It is also unclear how Training Funds will reach out to unemployment benefit recipients, considered that most Training Funds lack the necessary territorial structures to successfully perform these tasks (Casano, 2018[6]).

Extending Training Funds’ outreach towards the unemployed will also require additional financial resources. As discussed in Chapter 2, the resources available to the Training Funds are already limited, and it is unrealistic to expect Training Funds to perform new functions without additional resources.

Another key concern is that Training Funds will now have to align to the strategic objectives established by the Ministry of Labour in the field of ALMPs. In the views of several observers, this could potentially reduce Training Funds’ autonomy in setting skills priorities, a responsibility that was, up to now, reserved to social partners (Casano, 2015[7]; Eurofound, 2016[8]).

Figure 6.1. TF-supported training programme, by type of workers’ contracts, 2008-2015 and 2016
% of all programmes, 2016

Source: ANPAL’s elaborations based on the Nexus database.ANPAL Guidelines.

Table 6.1. TF-supported training programme, by type of workers’ contracts, 2008-2015 and 2016
Number of programmes and % of all programmes, 2008-2015 and 2016


Number of programmes

% of all programmes

Number of programmes

% of all programmes

Type of contract






3 690 438


206 456



1 904 343


116 512


Permanent part-time,

849 906


16 156


Fixed-term part-time

106 135


2 496


Access-to-work contract

377 848


16 058



91 706


16 576


Project work

14 174


1 588


Temporary agency open-ended

18 963


1 235


Farm temporary

5 642




Ancillary work





Religious work

8 615




Temporary agency fixed-term

6 640




Worker on safety nets (CIG/CIGS)

13 974




Redundancy worker

1 493




Casual worker

2 743





26 253




Farm open-ended

2 631









Family work





Unemployed worker





Independent contractor/freelancer





Member of cooperatives





University student/intern





Not declared

106 765


11 754


Source: ANPAL’s elaborations based on the Nexus database.ANPAL Guidelines.


[6] Casano, L. (2018), “Ripensare i Fondi Interprofessionali per la formazione continua: uno sguardo ai progetti di riforma francesi”, Adapt, (accessed on 26 March 2018).

[7] Casano, L. (2015), “Jobs Act e Fondi Paritetici Interprofessionali per la formazione continua”, Adapt.

[4] Casano, L. et al. (2017), “Bilateralità e formazione”, (accessed on 7 February 2018).

[1] Coordinamento Fondi Interprofessionali Cgil Nazionale (forthcoming), Fondi Paritetici Interprofessionali: una scommessa aperta.

[8] Eurofound (2016), “Vocational training paritarian institutions”, (accessed on 3 April 2018).

[10] Fondimpresa (2018), La formazione continua e gli interventi finanziati da Fondimpresa Anno 2015 -Lombardia, (accessed on 10 May 2018).

[3] Fondimpresa (2013), Dal Fondo in Poi. Storie di rinascita in tempo di crisi.

[9] ISFOL (2017), “Rapporto sulla Formazione Continua in Italia”.

[2] MIUR and Fonarcom (2016), Rafforzare il rapporto tra scuola e mondo del lavoro.

[5] OECD (2017), Getting Skills Right: France, OECD Publishing, OECD, (accessed on 31 March 2018).


← 1. Training Funds have to communicate their training plans to regions, which in turn can take them into account into their planning strategies (see Law 289/2002). This can help regions channel resources to target groups, and skills, typically not covered by Training Funds.

← 2. In some virtuous cases, Training Funds and regions co-programme grants. For example, in 2015 FonArCom and the region Valle D’Aosta jointly developed and financed a training grant of EUR 300 thousands, targeted to temporary workers of Training Funds-member firms (ISFOL, 2017[9]). Other examples of grant co-design exist between Regione Lombardia and certain Training Funds (i.e. Fondartigianato, (Fondimpresa, 2018[10]).

← 3. DM 383/V/03. See

← 4. The Observatory included representatives from the MLPS, regions, employers’ organisations, trade unions, and benefited from the technical assistance of the then-ISFOL (now-INAPP) – and its responsibilities involved setting the strategic priorities of the Training Funds and monitor Training Funds activities.

← 5. Several regional observatories on continuous learning are in place in Italy (e.g. Lombardia, Piemonte, Toscana) which aim to monitor adult learning activities and strengthen collaboration among different actors, including Training Funds, in a view to rationalise financial resources (Casano et al., 2017[4]).

← 6. e.g. Avviso 28.

← 7. Under 29 with at best upper secondary education.

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