- Social Dialogue
Fondi paritetici interprofessionali per la formazione continua
Interprofessional paritarian funds for continuous training
Interprofessional paritarian funds for continuous training are bodies of an associative nature promoted by the social partners at national level through specific interconfederal agreements that aim at supporting training activities of employed people. Although these institutions have a longer tradition in the construction and the craft sectors, nowadays they cover most of the sectors according to the relevant collective bargaining agreements.
In accordance with act no. 388/2000, interprofessional paritarian funds are established in two different steps:
- a collective agreement signed by social partners, which sets out the purpose of the body and defines its statute and internal regulations;
- the authorisation of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies to start the operations.
Interprofessional paritarian funds are funded by means of a 0.30% social security contribution (the so called 'contributo obbligatorio per la disoccupazione involontaria') on the employee wage bill, which employers can decide to devolve to an interprofessional paritarian fund or to the National Institute of Social Security (INPS). Employers can enrol in any authorised vocational training paritarian institution, regardless of their specific economic sector.
Interprofessional paritarian funds finance company, sectoral and territorial training plans, which the single or associated companies decide to implement for their employees. In addition, they can also fund individual training plans, as well as other additional training initiatives. Since 2011 (Law n.148/2011) interprofessional paritarian funds may also involve apprentices and workers employed with parasubordinate contracts.
The National Agency for Active Labour Market Policies (ANPAL) is in charge of monitoring these bodies and coordinating them as part of the network of employment services, within the overall objective of supporting workers’ placement and the matching of employers’ skills needs.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Policies authorises the establishment of interprofessional paritarian funds.
In some regions, local authorities cooperate with interprofessional paritarian funds in the definition of training plans in order to increase the employability of workers of companies experiencing economic or financial difficulties.
Employer or employee organisations
Employer organisations and trade unions promote, establish, and manage vocational training paritarian institutions.
ANPAL is in charge of coordinating and monitoring the activities of interprofessional paritarian funds. INPS receives the contributions and transfers them to the relevant bodies.
According to ANPAL (2018), in October 2017 there were 19 active interprofessional paritarian funds (16 at sectoral level and 3 targeting managers), covering 1,343,050 companies and more than 10.6 million workers.
In 2016, the overall amount of resources managed by interprofessional paritarian funds was almost € 607 million, 66% of which earmarked for the three largest institutions. In the same year, 29,088 training plans were authorised, involving 68,415 companies and 1,560,396 workers.
Most of the training activities were implemented by the beneficiary companies themselves, targeted at permanent employees, and aimed at updating their skills or at arranging compulsory training courses (such as those regarding health and safety at the workplace).
Interprofessional paritarian funds allow social partners at both national and local level to play a significant role in planning and shaping training in order to address the sectoral and local skills needs.
In this regard, there is some evidence that these institutions are supporting the deployment of vocational training in small and microenterprises, which often lack the internal human and financial resources to implement training actions on their own or purchase them on the market (see, for instance, ANPAL, 2018).
The fragmentation of the funds and their small size bring about problems in terms of cost effectiveness, and hide high heterogeneity in the level of supplied services throughout the country as well as in terms of contributions requirements that have to be met to access those services.
Social partners have expressed their stance concerning the regulation of 'fondi interprofessionali' in the framework of the discussion on act no. 150/2015 (Jobs Act – labour market reform, hereinafter ‘JALM’), which reforms active labour market policies. Generally speaking, they asked for stricter authorisation criteria, especially in terms of representativeness of founding social partners, and complained that the coordination powers attributed to ANPAL may impose targets other than those set by social partners, infringing upon the autonomy of fondi interprofessionali.