Career Guidance in Italy

Career Guidance in Italy

1. The framework of careers guidance in Italy

In Italy careers guidance falls under the competence of the Ministry of Labour (adult careers guidance), the Ministry of the University (careers guidance of students at the university), the Ministry of Education (careers guidance of students at primary and secondary schools), the Regions and the Provinces. More in detail, after the reform of the Italian Constitution that in 2001 has given more autonomy to the Regions, the Central Government has to agree with the Regions the general framework under which careers guidance is delivered. The Provinces are in charge for managing the careers guidance services for adults and young people 14-18 who are not working nor studying, while the delivery of careers guidance to students is entrusted to schools and universities. So far all the different actors have not been able to agree on the name and nature of the services in careers guidance and on the requisites for working in the field.

Careers guidance is currently available for all the adult and young unemployed and students in most of the Italian Regions. The main breakthroughs have been A. the reform of the network of the public employment offices, that in 1999 have been regionalized. Following the European Employment Strategy the Presidential Decree 181/2001 has provided the delivery of careers guidance in all the public employment offices. B. the Law 144/1999 that provides the delivery of careers guidance to all young people 14-18 who are not working nor studying, and entrusts this task to the employment offices. C. The insertion, several years ago, of a module of careers education (20-40 hours) in all the vocational courses leading to a qualification. Due mainly to these developments, at moment the people working full time in the field are estimated to be around 10.000.

In 2003 the law n.30/2003 has allowed many different organisations (schools, universities, local town councils, trade unions, employers organisations, private companies) to act as employment offices, but this development has not yet had an impact on guidance activities and public employment offices, because so far very few organizations have take advantage of it.

In Italy careers guidance services adopt a dual approach based on information ( the supplying of information with no or limited involvement of an officer) and advice (activities –such as assessment, help with drawing up action plans or follow up- that require a in-depth examination of the client’s situation).

The supplying careers guidance information (Annex 2, pag.57 of Ministerial Decree 166/2001) is described as:

  • ‘providing information, on vocational and training opportunities that is relevant to the needs of clients’
  • ‘preparing a data bank which can be used to supply useful information that is relevant to the needs of clients’

The supplying of careers guidance advice is described as:

  • ‘carrying out a complete, in-depth analysis of the various factors and combinations of factors which influence decision processes’
  • ‘assisting the client in drawing up a realistic personal action plan to include aims, timescales, courses of action, contacts, resources.’

The main information services are:

  • self help information services, usually delivered through websites developed by employment offices and careers guidance organizations or printed materials placed inside employment or careers guidance offices
  • information interview 8 (‘colloquio di accoglienza’ or ‘colloquio informativo’), usually delivered at a counter or by telephone or email message on a first in first served base. The face to face or telephone information interview lasts 10-20 minutes
  • group or small group information sessions (‘incontri informativi di gruppo’)

The main advice services are:

  • in depth interview (‘colloquio di orientamento specialistico’), one ore more 1 hour consultations usually delivered on appointment in a reserved space
  • ‘bilancio di competenze’, several in depth weekly interviews to help an adult to identify a professional target and to develop an action plan
  • small group sessions and courses, usually addressed to 10-20 people on themes such as job search techniques (‘corso sulle tecniche di ricerca attiva di lavoro’or how to choose a profession (‘corso su come scegliere una professione’)

During advice services, several activities (i.e. role playing) finalized to help participant(s) to develop career development skills can also be carried out.

In the public employment offices usually both information and advice services are available, while in most schools only the information services.

2. Who delivers career guidance in Italy

The information careers guidance services in employment offices are usually carried out by the employees of the offices. Before the regionalization of the offices, the personnel was mainly concerned with administrative tasks. Later some employees have been retrained to deliver careers guidance information services. Most of employment offices personnel is middle aged and don’t hold a degree.

The advice careers guidance services are instead delivered a. inside the employment office by external personnel hired as a free lance or belonging to organizations specialized in career guidance that have won a competitive tender or in alternative b. (less common) in the premises of private organizations specialized in careers guidance that have won a competitive tender. The advice services are delivered mostly by psychologists or people holding a degree in topics such as law, political sciences, education, economics. As until 2-3 years ago there were in Italy very few formal training possibilities in careers guidance, most of these people (including the psychologists) have usually learned how to work in careers guidance trough internships in careers guidance organizations, self administered study, short courses.

The information careers guidance services in schools are usually delivered by teachers.

3. Accreditation frameworks for people delivering career guidance

In Italy the occupations of careers guidance are loosely regulated. The requirements for working in the field where initially set by the Ministerial Decree 166/2001. The Decree sets a series of criteria (including qualifications for careers guidance staff) which must be satisfied by all public and private organisations that use funding from the European Social Fund to carry out training and/or careers guidance activities.

The Decree identifies two occupations that deal with careers guidance:

  • ‘orientatore’ (career officer) in charge of information and advice services (including defining and planning careers guidance activities) and
  • ‘tutor dell’inserimento’ (‘social worker in charge of professional insertion’) in charge of all the steps of projects for the professional insertions (planning internships, training and advising people on job search, supporting people during internships and jobsearch. Turor dell’inserimento are also in charge of advice and support to employed people

The Decree’ provisions for the occupations have never been enforced, because as already said in 2001 the Constitutional Reform gave more autonomy to Regions. In 2002 the Central Government and the Regions agreed the credentials of people working in careers guidance and vocational education would have been first defined and assessed at regional level through regional regulations, and only later a general framework should be agreed .

So far, only 8 Regions and Authonomous Provinces have defined the credentials for careers guidance occupations, and the general national framework has not been agreed. The credential requested are usually degree or diploma or vocational qualification plus previous experience and training in careers guidance. The credentials are verified mainly only through the exam of the curriculum vitae. In the Regions where the credentials have not been defined every single Province can choose different requisites. For example in Tuscany for delivering advice services inside the public employment offices Pistoia Province requires a degree in Occupational Psychology, Pisa Province a degree in Psychology, Florence Province no specific degree. To make thinks even more complicated some Regions decided to recognise the vocational qualification of ‘consulente di orientamento’ that can be obtained by attending a vocational training course 18.


Ministero del lavoro e della Previdenza Sociale, Decreto Ministeriale n.166 del 25 maggio 2001 “Disposizioni in materia di accreditamento dei soggetti attuatori nel sistema di formazione professionale” published on the Gazzetta Ufficiale n.162 del 14 luglio 2001

Legge n. 144 del 17 maggio 1999 “Misure in materia di investimenti, delega al Governo per il riordino degli incentivi all’ occupazione e della normativa che disciplina l’ INAIL, nonche’ disposizioni per il riordino degli enti previdenziali”, published on the Gazzetta Ufficiale n. 118 del 22 maggio 1999 – Supplemento Ordinario n. 99

Legge 14 febbraio 2003, n. 30 “Delega al Governo in materia di occupazione e mercato del lavoro” published on the Gazzetta Ufficiale n. 47 del 26 Febbraio 2003

Note: Article contained on the website Author © 2006 Leonardo Evangelista ( Published on this website on 2008. Can be reproduced quoting Author’s name and article’s URL.

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