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Centro Studi e Formazione Villa Montesca

Università degli studi di Perugia

Dipartimento di Scienze Umane e della Formazione

Unione Sindacale Regionale CISL Umbria

CLAN – Continuous Learning for Adults with Needs

Grant Agreement 2007-3569/001-001
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which
may be made of the information contained therein
1 st CLAN:


1. Foreword: objectives and methodologies

2. The social operator: characteristics, roles and tasks

3. The problems in defining the profile of the Social Operator at national


4. Training of a Social Operator (formal education and knowledge)

5. Work schedule and training needs

6. The profession and new technologies

1. Foreword – objectives and methodologies

The main objective of this study is to analyse the sociological features and main characteristics
of the profession of a Social Operator (CLAN) taking into consideration the key objective of the
project: try an innovative and easier approach to adult training, in particular to those workers
who have difficult work schedules that prevent access to traditional training courses (courses
that usually take place after working hours, i.e. 6.00 pm)
The project aims to single out the needs and barriers to long life learning of people who work
in structured and not flexible environments, taking also into consideration personal life and
On the basis of the sociological research, the aim is to create a Soft Learning model that uses
new technologies to help full participation to learning activities by “adapting” to the worker’s
working and life schedules.

The methodology includes the following studies:

1) analysis and review of existing literature (researches, studies and reports, web revision –
national and regional report projects, initiatives, good practices, statistical reports from Censis,
Fivol, Istat, Excelsior and Iref, bibliographical and historiography researches).

2) analysis and investigation of the training profiles for the individual service sector, aiming at
singling out non formal training courses.

3) interviews and contacts with social sector observers. Organisation of a work group for the
focusing activities formed by operators, experts and staff who will carry out experimentation,
interviews with the sector’s institutions, organisations and associations

The activities have been carried out by a multi-disciplinary work group formed by:

Fabrizio Boldrini – projcet coordinator

Marco Conti – work group coordinator
Giuseppe Bolognini - CISL Umbria
Patrizia Iorio- CISL Umbria
Rosario Salvato - Dept.
Claudia Mazzeschi – Dept Of Human Science and Training of the University of
Federico Bianchin – Social Cooperative Society “Il Poliedro” (Typo B coop.)
Nicola Gustinelli - Social Cooperative Society “Il Sicomoro” Upper Tiber Valley
Sara Capacci – Kindergarten operator, Social Cooperative Society “Il Sicomoro” Upper Tiber
Marta Pigolotti – prep school operator “Il Sicomoro” Upper Tiber Valley
Lorenzo Taddei Social Cooperative “Il Fiore Verde” -
Paola Grossi- social operator,Social Cooperative “Il Fiore Verde” -
Stefano Minni – Social Cooperative “la Rondine”
2. The social operator: characteristics, roles and tasks

The work of a social operator is in its entirety “live and concrete” based on personalised
operations. It is “live” because it is based on direct subjective relationship; it also rejuvenates
psychic and psychic energies, meets needs and demands, transforms people’s attitudes
without any guarantee of immediate and lasting success. It is also a “concrete” work since it is
based on immediate actions responding to the needs of individuals in their relationship with
the world.
The figure of a Social operator is rather widespread and acts as a support for individuals of
different ages who are in a state of need and in situations of social hardship and
The Social operator carries out his/her work through prevention, support, assistance and
activities such as:

- home assistance, assistance in structures such as hospitals or residential homes, day

care centres, occupational structures and schools;

- elaboration, with the assistance of social/sanitary staff, of the data of specific needs of
the people or groups assisted;

- improvement of autonomy and socialisation with direct assistance and help, both at
physical and psychological level;

- development of personal growth and of social skills and participation;

- reduction of the risks of social hardship, marginalisation and deviance.

Other functions are: organisation and management (bringing services and performances to
level with social needs and demands for better resource exploitation).
Promotional prevention, to favour the process of integration of services with cooperative
organisations, information sharing, change in social policies on the basis of the changing
needs, the constant analysis and monitoring of social phenomena.
It is therefore often key for social operators to possess competences in the field of:
- territorial analysis
- social relations

In particular, children, adolescents and minors.
Minors in situations of hardship or at risk of social deviance.
Physically or psychically handicapped adults.
Psychiatric patients.
Drug addicts.
Foreign nationals or Italians lacking any means of subsistence and in circumstances of difficulty, hardship or neglect.
- communication and listening
The dynamism of this professional profile is also expressed in its working context such as:
- reception centres for minors, educational services, kindergartens, play centres, summer
camps, community homes, protected labs, rehabilitation centres, volunteers’
associations, social cooperative societies, residential homes, religious institutions,
family homes, therapeutic rehabilitation communities home assistance centres, day
occupational centres, private families;
- as regards the operation areas: improvement of the quality of life, health protection,
social well-being, educational opportunities, social and work opportunities.
3. Social/demographic analysis and working conditions of
the Social Operator

The following indicators are from a Censis elaboration of Fivol and Istat data on
social/demographic composition of social operators: they are mainly women professionals with
medium/high education level.

Total number 681.695

Males 39.9
Females 60.1
Compulsory 26,8
Professional qualification 19.0
Secondary school diploma 37.7
Degree 16.5
Total 100.0
[Source: Censis elaboration on data from Fivol and Istat, 2005]

Some interesting aspects can be outlined from certain facets of the social operator’s work, also
taking into account the acquired perception by the workers:

- working conditions are not particularly gratifying especially regarding working time, salary
and career opportunities. Salaries are not as good as in other sectors that require the same
educational level and/or job description; furthermore, in the 27.7% of the non profit
organisations –which represent the main employment sector for social workers – the effective
working time is usually above that established in the contract and 17% of these employers do
not pay or allow any form of recuperation of extra time;
- a high percentage of the workers have taken up this profession almost by chance. In fact,
30.7% of them contacted their employer through friends or relatives and another 16.9%
because they knew that the organisation was operating on the territory. Furthermore, non
profit and volunteer organisations operate as an access route to employment since 27.5% of
their total workforce was employed and 31.5% were not registered workers.

Access route and working conditions

How organisation was contacted
Through friends and relatives 30.7
Organisation known to be active in the area 16.9
Student/housewife/unemployed 42.0
Effective working time exceeding contract 27.7

Participation to training courses 52.7

[Source: Censis elaboration on data from Fivol and Istat, 2005]

Despite working conditions and the original lack of interest in looking for this kind of job, the
level of satisfaction of the social worker in the activity is particularly high as regards social
usefulness in the quality of intrapersonal relations with the other employees (senior staff
collages and volunteers)
The direct professional experience has a positive impact on social workers both as stimulus
and non-monetary incentive counterbalancing less interesting salary and career
Volunteers have a key role within the social networks (they amount to about 4 million). A mix
of paid and non paid staff (volunteers, conscientious objectors and religious orders) is more
and more gaining space mainly in those organisations supplying fulltime services.

Satisfaction over work (evaluation from 1 to 7)

Relations with colleagues and volunteers 5.6

Relations with senior staff 5.4
Social usefulness 5.3
Salary 4.0
Career opportunities 3.3
[Source: Censis elaboration on data from Fivol and Istat, 2005]

The increased interweaving of competences of professional workers and volunteers and the
high level of investment, also individual, in training (52.7% of the operators takes part in
training courses) are the two resources that contribute to the creation of an added value made
of effectiveness and innovation abilities characterising the social networks.

From the study “Social institutions in Italy” by Istat using the ICNPO classification
(International Classification of Non-profit Organisations) social assistance activities are divided
into three main areas:

social assistance services

emergency assistance services
contributions (either monetary or in nature)

On the basis of prevailing activity and legal status the social assistance services are supplied
mainly by:

non recognised associations (41,7%)

recognised associations (34%)
social coops (12,4%)

Activities Legal status

Recognised Foundations Non Committee Soc. Coop Other Tot
association recognised

assistance 34,0 4,0 41,7 1,7 12,4 6,2 100,0

assistance 33,6 3,4 39,1 1,5 16,4 6,0 100,0
assistance 49,1 0,3 49,2 0,5 - 0,9 100,0
(monetary or 21,1 11,2 50,4 4,2 - 13,1 100,0
in nature)
[Source: Censis elaboration on data from Fivol and Istat, 2006]

4. The field of action

Social operators can work in public institutions, in coops in convention or not with public
services, or in private organisations.
The services are therefore supplied in different structures. The main difference is found
between residential services and semi-residential or day services.

• Residential services: emergency reception services: these are residential structures

exclusively dedicated to emergencies. They guarantee immediate solutions, even though
temporary, to urgent housing, food and protection needs arising from unforeseen
circumstances. Permanence is limited to the time necessary to find more appropriate
accommodation and normally does not exceed the 30 to 40 days;

• Night reception centres: residential structures for the nightly and occasional shelter of
people in serious economic hardship or with family and social problems. These centres are
open at night time at a pre-established time; reception is limited to one night only with
possibility of extension.

• Family communities: residential structures for people only partly self-sufficient for whom it
is considered suitable to experiment community life models and assistance by qualified
staff. Life of guests and operators is organised along family lines. An important example are
family communities for minors (family homes) characterised by the living together of a
small group of minors with two or more adults who act as parents.

• Social/educational communities: residential structures for pre-adolescent and adolescent

guests who do not have any reference figure who can assist them in growing up. The
services can be mainly educational, recreational or tutoring.

• Social rehabilitation communities. Residential structures for individuals with social problems
of various nature: elderly people only partly self-sufficient, people with physical or
psychological problems, drug addicts, alcoholics and other people in difficulty. This type of
community adopts specific rehabilitation and recuperation projects. These are implemented
by qualified operators and their aim is, when possible, to return these individuals to social

• Residential assistance for self-sufficient elderly people: residential structures mainly used
to house self-sufficient elderly people. The beneficiaries enjoy assistance services and are
encouraged to take part to cultural and recreational activities.

• Immigrant reception centres: residential structures for foreign nationals in difficult

situations, temporarily unable to meet their housing and sustenance needs.

The semi-residential services have also structures destined to a diversified type of user but
their aim is to offer day-time services therefore lacking the more significant characteristics of
community life; however, these structures guarantee a valid and constant support in time.
Among these we find:

• Assistance day centre for elderly people: this is a daytime social/sanitary structure for
elderly people with varying levels of self-sufficiency.

• Daytime centres for minors: reception structures carrying out educational, recreational
and tutoring activities. At the end of the day the minors return to their families.

• Daytime centres for the disabled: centres for disabled, favouring their autonomy and
return to social life.
Another category is that of home assistance services: the beneficiaries (elderly people,
disabled or handicapped people) are not housed in structures but receive services directly at
their homes by one or more operators.
Interventions and services of the social/assistance type, even if temporary, remove situations
of hardship and need and favour family and social integration; they also avoid removing the
individual from his environment and offer the support needed to overcome difficulties.


Coops play a significant role in the Italian social-economic system and employ a considerable
number of social workers. Coops are both an enterprise and a social organisation established
by a group of people with a common need. They are not exclusively an economic entity,
although the economic and financial aspects are important, since the activities are social, as
well as economic and cultural. Coops are in fact based on the common will to satisfy a need, to
reach a common goal.

Many operate in the social solidarity field and in Italy they are called “social enterprises”;
they have in fact all the facets of business enterprises but their main aim is the interest of the
community, the promotion of human values and social integration.
These societies are divided into two classes (Law 381/91):

- coops operating in the social/sanitary and educational fields for home assistance of
disadvantaged people, running of family homes, nursing and kindergartens;
- coops for the introduction of disadvantaged people in the occupational system.

The are also divided into:

A type Coops
Supplying social/sanitary and educational services through a range of activities such as
protected residences, kindergartens, daytime centres, communities, day surgeries and also
home assistance to different types of beneficiaries the majority of whom are in situations of
distress or hardship. As regards the prevailing activity, 59.1% of the A type coops operates in
the field of social assistance. The second important sector is Education and Research (21%)
followed by Culture, Sports and Recreation (10.7%), Health (9%), other sectors (0.2%).
During 2006 this type of coops have supplied their services to more than 3.3 million
beneficiaries (an increase of 37.4% vis a vis 2003). The high number of users is due mainly to
the ability the coops have to answer rapidly to demands often complex and of difficult
interpretation by subjects in situations of distress, and to the wide range of services offered
covering also the needs of users not necessarily in need of specific types of assistance.

B type Coops
Operating mainly in the field of introduction in the job market of disadvantaged people thus
helping social integration of subjects who would otherwise be excluded from working
This objective is reached by managing enterprises in agriculture, industry, craftsmanship,
commerce and service but are obliged to reserve a certain number of jobs to disadvantaged
people such as alcoholics, convicts and former convicts, physically, psychically and sensorial
disabled, minors, psychiatric patients, drug addicts and other subjects at risk of social

Multi-type coops (A + B type)

Carry out both types of services.
5. Definition of the Social operator at national level: the

The lack of a common denominator at national level makes improvements in the contract
condition and in the image of the people operating in assistance difficult.

Nowadays, social operators need a theoretical statute and the formal recognition of their

Concepts such as “to be responsible for”, release, educative contract, help relationship,
urgently require appropriate reference models to correctly guide the operator’s activity.

The recent legal framework in Italy has shown some attempt to redefine the social service
system (Law 328/2000 for the integrated system of interventions and social services), moving
on from a confused institutional charity policy to a modern service system.

These attempts are made at regional level and a plan for the definition of tasks, profiles and
competences is being elaborated in a structured system recognising and professionally
certifying the profiles operating in the social sector.
The following are the plan’s objectives:

- avoid the wasting of training initiatives;

- allow social operators to use their competences in the European labour market;
- establish the basis for a new body of legislation for the social service staff (professional
standards and contractual levels);
- define recognised social professional profiles;
- set-up training standards for social service staff also in view of the planning opportunities
according to the service needs;
6. The training path of Social Operators (formal education
and informal knowledge)

Formal education to enter the profession

The profile of the social operator is outlined in a series of non-uniform profiles in some Italian
regions and the post-diploma formal training courses are of different an non-homogeneous
nature and duration. See following table:

Course duration
Region Denomination
OSA (Operatore Socio Assistenziale) –
Abruzzo 800
Assistance Soc. Op.
ADB (Addetto all’Assistenza di Base) –
Emilia Romagna 600
Basic Ass. Op.
ADEST (Assistente Domiciliare e dei
Friuli Venezia Giulia Servizi Tutelari) – Home assistance and 900
tutoring Serv. Op.
OSA (Operatore Socio Assistenziale) –
Lazio 600
Ass. Op.
ADEST (Assistente Domiciliare e dei
Liguria Servizi Tutelari) - Home assistance and 350-900
tutoring Serv. Op.
ASA (Ausiliario Socio Assistenziale)-
Lombardy 600
Assistance Auxiliary Soc. Op.
ADEST (Assistente Domiciliare e dei
Piedmont Servizi Tutelari) - Home assistance and 900
tutoring Serv. Op.
OSA (Operatore Socio Assistenziale) –
Province of Bolzano 3.750
Ass. Soc. Op.
OSA (Operatore Socio Assistenziale) -
Province of Trento 1.400
Ass. Soc. Op.
OSA (Operatore Socio Assistenziale) -
Tuscany 600
Ass. Soc. Op.
ADEST (Assistente Domiciliare e dei
Valle d’Aosta Servizi Tutelari)- Home assistance and 700
tutoring Serv. Op.
OAA (Operatore Addetto all’Assistenza) -
Veneto 550/1.000
Ass. Soc. Op.
Regional titles and course duration for social/assistance operators – Western and Central Italy)

The above table clearly shows that there is a need to set-up minimum standard
competences at national level in answer to the following objectives:
- outline basic homogeneous professional profiles guaranteeing uniformity in operator’s
- set-up guidelines to establish a training grading system;
- avoid profile fragmentation;

- strengthen the identity and the distinctive aspects of professional profiles operating in
the social sector vis a vis other fields;
- set-up norms for the working contract.

Also in terms of basic training programmes there is no homogeneity in the courses or in the
formal titles for social operators.
The following examples are an indication:

Social operator’s Formal basic training programmes

specific field of
Drug addict Professional title obtained by attending regional courses different in
recuperation (and duration (200 to 1200 hours) in requirements and in access. These
similar profiles such courses are legally recognised and at the end a diploma is released.
as social workers, Apprenticeship is key in this context. A period of practice allows to
community ascertain and develop professional competences but above all the
animators, social emotional and human potential which is of paramount importance in
marginalisation the relationship with the beneficiaries.
Childcare operator Professional training courses varying in type and duration aiming at
the training of social and community animators, playthech animators
etc. this type of course is available for people over 18 years of age
with a compulsory school certificate. Access to the profession can be
obtained after attending a social/psychological/pedagogical secondary
school and it is addressed also to Developmental Age Psychology or
Educational Science graduates.

Home asssitance and The professional training of his profile is the competence of regional
tutopring services authorities. There is no national legislation as regards this profile;
operatoi (and similar regions establish the profile requirements and organise ad hoc
profiles such as training programmes varying in their structure but including theory
social/assistance and apprenticeship time equally allocated. Access is allowed after
operator, basic compulsory education; basic competences can be acquired through
assistance auxiliary up-dating courses to improve the quality of service and to answer new
operator) demands from the users.

The need for contextual specialisations must also be taken into account. In fact, some sectors
if social work require varied specific competences. Particular relevance is given to the
norms regarding labour, handicap, immigration, prostitution, drugs etc. The operation areas
quite different from home and residential assistance, work in the streets etc and lastly the
user’s living and psychological conditions imply special interventions in case of psychiatric
problems, drug addiction, multi-problem family environment etc.
Operators must therefore add to their basic training also a specialisation in one or more of the
following fields:

- young children and adolescents

- non self-sufficient or disabled elderly people
- psychiatry (Alzheimer and mental diseases)
- pathological addictions
- work
- multicultural issues (immigrants and foreign nationals)
- extreme marginality (problem families, prostitution, imprisonment, homeless)

Another type of specialisation is managerial skills: i.e. above a certain level the competences
acquired on the job are no longer sufficient and there is a need for specific training to achieve
higher levels of responsibility in management activities.
Non formal training

The context in which social operators act is in constant evolution owing to the ever changing
needs strictly connected with changes in society.
For instance, in these past few years the assistance network which was before centred on
disadvantage and rehabilitation is now moving towards services focusing on people’s wellbeing
and on preventive actions (e.g. the increase in life expectation in Italy brings to the forefront
welfare policies for the care and the assistance of elderly people).

The constant evolution of a social operator’s field of action implies a recurring acquisition
process of non formal competences also through learning by doing and individual/group
studies. In particular, also regards the results noted in focusing activities, the main non formal
learning processes are as indicated in the following graph:








Congresses Sem inars Manuals Learning by Com puter Learning by Learn by Organization
w atching doing yourself by
trying things

Informal learning is normally achieved on the job; it is not necessary intentional non is always
recognised by the operator as an increase in knowledge and competences.
7. Work time training needs. Obstacles to participation
in training programmes.

7.1 Work time in social work

Work time is structured along traditional models: about 8 hours per day divided into shifts,
even if there is a decrease in the number of operators working the same hours every day and
the same number of days in a week. This determines a flexible approach to work time and
part-time work seems to be the most widespread, mainly among female workers.

It must however be noted that the social sector is going through an interesting change: from a
model in which work time and timetables were stable and working life was marked by
sequences of activity to work time individualisation and fragmentation which often cause
discontinuity and flexibility advantages for the female population.
The social enterprise context is therefore distinguished by a degree of diversification in
working hours as shown in the following pie.

5% typical working day
flexible working day
normal shifts
sliding hours shifts
working hours bank


In some cases, noted also by the participants to focusing activities, some projects are being
studied as regards reconciling working hours with family life and life with family, including the
needs connected with training processes not specifically linked with one’s profession.
Some forms of work flexibility are therefore being considered such as mixed part-time, flexi-
time and hour bank system.
In conclusion, studies are in progress on strategic correlations between action models,
working time and contract compatibility, working time and innovations in work
This is an interesting hypothesis since it can create a space for “creative appeasement” in the
relationship time/work so that operators may also be producers of knowledge.
7.2 Training needs of social operators and obstacles to the
participation in training programmes.

A typical facet of the work of a social operator is the constant evolution of practices and
services to the population determining the need of a continuous upgrading of competences.
The long life learning system includes specialised courses, updating models on specific
disciplines, meetings and seminars, certified courses (inside or outside the employing
organisation) as well as a form of DIY updating through the reading of specific magazines,
internet and information sharing with colleagues or other operators.
It can be noted that in the majority of cases the employers provide internal training

However, these activities are usually aimed at ad hoc situations such as upgrading courses as a
direct answer to the introduction of new services or new working methods. In this regard,
focusing activities have outlined the difficulties connected with the rapid time span of
professional experiences.

In other words, the organisations need and expect the acquisition of specialist knowledge and
competences without being able to supply internally adequate training structures.

Therefore, the choice of training itineraries can be defined as "forced" and therefore different
from proper constant learning processes implying a willingness of continuous improvement
with a medium/long range view rather that being focused on inherent problems.

As far as the contents of training programmes are concerned, they should focus on practical
and operational applications to the detriment of the theory.

This need is strictly linked with the peculiarities of the social operator's work: one working day
implies a number of cognitive and emotional inputs in order to move from one context to

The competences to be therefore developed are described in the following 5 areas:

a) Development of competences regarding new professional profiles. The most important

subjects are family, adolescents, children, the disabled, people with psychiatric problems, the
elderly and drug addicts.
The legal implications and privacy protection are other interesting subjects even though in a
less evident manner.
b) Development of competences and skills regarding new social and cultural areas.
Reviewing one’s job in the light of the deep changes in living communities and the
organisational and institutional innovations involving the assistance services is becoming a
necessity more and more felt by the operators.
c) Development of competences and skills regarding organisational and communication
areas, such as:

- - situation evaluation
- - programming interventions
- - assessment and quality control
- - interpersonal communication
- - group management
- - service organisation and management

The above competences have been specifically requested by senior staff.

d) Development of competences and skills regarding IT. The job requires competences such as
the use of a database, of computer coding and categorising, use of emails (writing and
deleting), use of software programs.

e) Writing skills, in order to enable the operator to document (both clinically and
therapeutically) his/her job.

As regard the obstacles in participating in training courses the following aspects can be

Training courses should be short or spread over a period of time allowing the participants to
organise their work shifts. For the same reason it would be desirable that the initiatives take
place near the workplace or the worker’s place of residence; there are in fact problems in
taking part in training courses owing to the ties between the workers and the people who are
assisted (students, disabled, drug addicts, adolescents …) since even one single day of absence
could have a devastating effect on these individuals, thus creating a situation of mistrust and
severe consolidated links. Also the conflict between the time devoted to learning and the
operator’s workload is another very important aspect.

Often, operators lack the time to re-elaborate, both at individual and collective level, the toil
inherent to the complexity of their professional activity. Therefore, at best, thinking, reading
and reflecting are done almost always alone, during free time, on holidays, often in place of
relaxation and concentration. Flexibility and personalisation of training courses would be
therefore desirable.

In conclusion the Clan of the social workers is a group in which women are the majority and
carry out their job in different fields and contexts.

The profile of the operator is many faceted and very flexible: there is lack of formal recognition
for its role at an institutional level, nor are the minimum competence standards clearly defined
in order to guarantee uniformity at national level.

However, a process to re-design the whole system is now being enacted. The approach
regarding various forms of diversification and work time flexibility looks very interesting as well
as the experimentation in trying to establish strategic correlations of time with ethics in social
work, professional action models, contract compatibility and innovation in work organisation.

The constant evolution of the activities of a social operator implies a recurring process of
acquisition of both formal and non formal knowledge. Training needs are mainly connected with
the development of competences in new professional areas, new cultural and social
organisation and communication aspects, knowledge of the use of a PC and writing skills.
Moreover, new technologies have gained more and more space although their use as a form of
transmission of knowledge is still a weak point.
The difficulties in participating in training courses are mainly linked with the incompatibility
between training time and workload, as well as for the negative aspect which may arise from
strong ties between the assistants and the assisted.
2nd CLAN:


1. The Fire Brigade: the job – characteristics and specialisations

1.1 Volunteers
1.2 Women officers

2. Professional training

3. Use of learning technologies

4. Working context and obstacles to attendance to training activities

1. The Fire Brigade: the job, characteristics and specialisations

The Italian Fire Brigade is a quite different structure from those operating in other countries.
Being organised on a national level it has a great potential in terms of intervention. However,
like many big and articulated organisations it is not able to adapt quickly to new situations.
Since 1941 the National Fire Brigade, (before fragmented into independent organisations at
local level), has been assigned different and more complex tasks in step with the country’s
development. Form the 1980s, following the creation of the Civil Protection organisation, the
Fire Brigade had become more and more an instrument of rapid intervention in case of serious
natural or man-provoked disasters.
The profile of a control and protection force over the territory has expanded the
competences into several fields requiring the setting-up of specialised units of high professional

• Helicopter Units

Piloting a helicopter and descending to ten metres from the water often in very difficult
conditions implies specific skills and continuous training

• Diver Unit

This unit was set up in 1952 and its members operate in 32 precincts. Their work -
saving lives and personal belongings in floods and rainstorms – is carried out in severe
operational conditions.

• SAF Unit

This unit employs Speleology, Mountaineering and Water techniques that allow to
increase the rescuer's grade of safety and improve the service to the population,
expecially in situations where normal rescue operations cannot be used.

• Port Units

Boat piloting staff employed in sea and land rescue.

• Airport Units

Currenty, 35 national airports – 3 more in 2005 – re serviced by this unit.

• Radiometer Units
In the 1960s, during the Cold war and the consequent proliferation of atomic
experiments, this unit was organised also in view of the use of atomic energy for
peaceful purposes.

• Radio Repair Units

Specialised staff in the TLC centres using special machines to restore communications
even under adverse conditions.

The Fire Brigade staff is divided into three classes:

Permanente personnel - belonging to the Civil Service, guarantees basic assistance.

Volunteer personnel - people having their own activity who become operational for short
periods of time when required to supply ordinary services.
Auxiliary personnel - who are performing their military service duties at a Fire Brigade Unit.

The following are some of a fireman’s tasks:

3 Safeguard of people’s safety
3 Safeguard of people’s belongings and of goods in general
3 Guarantee all technical interventions for fast assistance requiring technical skills
and proper equipment
3 Carry out studies, technical and experimental analysis in specific sectors.

Technical operations for public assistance and rescue involving:

• technical interventions in case of fire, uncontrolled energy outbursts, sudden

structural collapses, landslides, floods and other disasters;

• technical interventions to control nuclear energy risks or the use of

bacteriological, chemical and radiological substances.

The old military rank structure of permanent personnel has been replaced with other ranks
more in line with civilian organisations. There are no longer Commissioned Officer, NCO etc but
Engineers, Surveyors, Technical Experts, Department managers, Unit Leaders and Firemen.
1.1 Volunteers

The Brigade’s personnel is by and large made of professionals even if there is a quota of
volunteers performing their duties in line with the Corp’s historical tradition.
The present rules are:
· Volunteers are recruited by personal application;
· They may be called in service for temporary service in case of natural disasters or in case
of special needs by the central and local structures;
· They may be called in service when needed by the volunteer units or in case of periodical
training activities;
· The periods of service, of 20 days each, may not exceed 160 days yearly;
It is the Brigade’s responsibility to train and equip for Civil Protection duties citizens offering
their services.

1.2 Female personnel

Women were allowed to apply for operational activities in senior technical positions –
engineers and architects – in 1989. Since then their number has increased to 56 senior
technical staff, also in the properly operational service with 18 female permanent fire officers
plus an ever increasing number of volunteers.
A number of female workers are also employed in administration, finance and computer
jobs. Female volunteers were first recruited in 1996 and in May 2005 the first female
Commanding Officer was appointed and she is now performing her duties in the provincial
headquarters of Arezzo. Since then three more female commanding officers have been
appointed: one is now the head of the Fire Investigation Unit (NIA), the second is Commanding
Officer of Como Headquarters and the third is in service at the Regional Directorate of Liguria.

The majority of the staff is composed of male personnel, but although female permanent
personnel is still low in number, there is a significant increase in female volunteers who will in
time apply for permanent jobs through the public examination system.
There are 48 female engineers or architects who perform unit coordination and organisation
2. Professional training

The training activities of the National Fire Brigade can be divided into the following phases:
− access (or Basic) training: a legal requirement including access courses, training for the
advancement to higher ranks and to management level etc, as provided for by the new
regulations (D.Lgs. n. 217/05);
− updating and qualification courses: on monographic professional subjects for the
improvement of skills regarding special operational needs; they also include driving licence and
nautical licence courses;
− specialisation courses: to qualify for the use of special sea and air rescue craft; to learn
special operation techniques and the use of special equipment, as well as to carry out rescue
operations in particularly severe conditions;
− physical and professional training: daily activities to keep physically fit and to maintain
professional skills up to date;.
− seminars, meetings and university master courses: seminars and meetings of 1 or 3 days
for managers and officers are usually held at ISA with the participation of experts from the
various sectors of the Italian industries. The master courses are attended by personnel with
qualifications, they regard specific tasks and are held at universities.

The updating and qualification courses, like those for the obtainment of the various types of
licences, are held in the precincts by officers and instructors who usually belong to the
operating personnel. Specialisation courses, except diving training, for obvious reasons, are
held by external teachers (e.g. Air force personnel, Nautical Institutions, Augusta SpA etc.)
and the same goes for English lessons.
975 courses were held in 2006 totalling 7565 training days, with 13,502 participants.
The changes in training methods can be summarised as follows:

• institutional changes (internal dynamism) favouring management devolution have also

transformed the organisational structures to integrate the services in the European system
(Law 59/97 and the recent constitutional changes towards a “federal” direction).

• Setting up of the Fire Brigade, Public rescue, Civil protection Department divided into
Central Directorates, including one for training activities.
• recognition of the need to renew the rescue organisation to better answer in terms of
effectiveness and efficiency to the country’s needs (external dynamism): this policy implies the
re-orientation of all training activities to improve also the safety of the operators during their
• application of the results of the experimentations carried out during the new training
sessions. The need to promote studies and experimentations in the organisational structure
has also been noted. In order to answer such challenges, the training system is undergoing a
deep review of didactic methods and programmes.
• development of an organic managerial, training and updating programmes.

this profession stands on:

- technical professional training;
- physical fitness.

Technical professional training is centred on continuous updating, from the viewpoint of

permanent education, which is considered a key part of the training methods in European
The focus of technical professional training should be on the development of the ability to
analyse the essential elements of a problem, rationalise them and find the appropriate solution
as quickly as possible (problem solving).
All this implies continuous exercise and improvement through training courses held on a
regular basis also vis a vis the technological evolution and the new types of accidents present
day society is faced with. The investment of resources in personnel training is a necessary
condition to guarantee more satisfying professional levels and, consequently, to achieve the
best possible safety targets for the community.
Physical fitness is the other key element for a fireman’s training. The daily and diverse
danger situations require a high level of initiative, physical ability, physical and mind
coordination, esprit de corps and sense of belonging to a team.
All these elements are a human training ground, but they must also be practiced
Physical activities (including swimming) and physical fitness are part of a fireman’s daily
work and allow to develop skills which play an important role in this difficult job, such as:
the calculated use of psychological and physical resources in very different operational
a correct vision of the impact and the result of one’s actions during a rescue operation;
the ability in team work and in the relationship with colleagues;
an active role within the team to better use one’s physical and technical skills;
the carrying out activities requiring a mental balance behaviour and safety planning in
diverse operational conditions.
The following are some of the projects finalised in the sector:

“to think out and manage change”. This project was presented by the Central Directorate
for Training of the Italian Fire Brigade. It was organised in 11 workshops of three and a half
days each, for all the managers, from December 2004 to March 2005 and was held at the
Istituto Superiore Antincendi.
It involved 165 managers of all levels working both in local and central headquarters.
The theme was the changes in the Public Administration. It was a systematic project carried
out through training and examining the organisation in all its components by the managerial
staff at all career levels.
“approach and interrelation”
The main objective was to start a cultural transformation process, which during a medium/long
period of time could give birth in the provinces of the Objective 1 regions to specific
interventions on the territory, keeping always in mind the improvement of safety measures.

Examining the “Report on fire officers training for the year 2006 and the didactic plan for
2007” some indications can be drawn as regards the transformation process of new managerial
models in which individual competences play a key role.
These changes have involved all personnel from managerial staff downwards, requiring a
constant re-organisation and adaptation to the new situations through re-qualification and
updating. Qualified and updated personnel is able to carry out the law reforms and avoid that
the new technological innovations introduced may create exclusion and demotivation in those
people who have not kept pace with changing times.
b) Improve knowledge of operating conditions and ability to meet the professions’ demands.
It is necessary to enhance and improve the technical know-how and computer
c) Increase contact and cultural exchanges with peer organisations in other countries and
improve the knowledge of foreign languages.
3. Use of training technologies

There is a need for cultural re-adaptation to introduce new training methods in which teachers
and students are part of the whole system.
The URIEL project (use of computer resources – elearning) developed by ISA is the
accomplishment of this concept. The project is the evolution of the FAD (distance learning), a
teaching method already known in the last century as an ordinary form of corresponding
between teachers and students, experimented by the Fire Brigade since the 1980s and
supported by videos for updating courses on fire prevention, nuclear energy and airport and
seaport fire prevention.

The FAD projects have gone though a particular development thanks to the increase
in computer resources in the last few years. Many digital supports have been developed such
as multimedia CD-Rom (CBT- Computer Based Training) which have accounted for a vast
diffusion of competences in remote models.
However, the use of these teaching methods does not always favour communication
between teacher and student.
4.Working context and obstacles to training activities

This profession is particularly wearing, atypical and full of physical risks.

The work schedule is usually organised as per national contract’s indications, as follows:

 Work time Rest

12h 24h
12h 24h
12h 48h

The shifts are 8:00-20:00 / 20:00 – 8:00, therefore, starting from 8.00- 20.00 shift on a
Monday the whole day of Tuesday will be free and work will be resumed on Tuesday night; the
following Wednesday will be free and service will start again on Thursday 8.00-20.00 with rest
during the following 48 hours.
(It should be noted that, since the work consists mainly in waiting for calls, night shift workers
can rest if services are not required).
This type of timetable applies to about 95% of personnel at national level.
For logistic jobs (car maintenance, storekeeping etc) the shifts are of 12 hours each (8.00-
20.00) and 36 hours of rest, Sundays not included, that means working every other day.
A small number of workers (1%) works from 8.00 to 17.00.

Many surveys have shown that fire fighting personnel suffer from the typical psychic/physical
stress syndrome generally found in shift workers. The kind of scenarios (road accidents,
disasters, etc) have a strong psychological impact in the operator’s life. The fact that a
colleague could be wounded or die causes stress and this in turn causes a sense of fear that
may bring further problems.
In general, a fireman has difficulties in participating in non professional training courses held
outside work since the courses are organised in the evening (18.00-21.00), which is not an
ideal time.
When asked if the new technologies could help overcoming these problems, operators have
given two different answers: some that the internet linked pcs they have at work can be used
for personal business (1 to 1 ½ hours per day over the 12 hour shift are dedicated to personal
interests). Considering that ¾ of the personnel are nowadays 43/45 years of age and therefore
open to computer technologies and to the use of Internet, the answer positive.
On the other hand, some operators say that although younger personnel are more familiar
with the web, there is a loss of manual skills that in the past were acquired “on the job”, such
as transport and premise maintenance, which helped to contain costs. This loss, balanced by
an increase in educational and culture levels, is seen as a possible element of crisis for the
However, it must be said that an in depth exam of the various training needs other than the
professional ones shows that the real difficulty for a fireman is to keep professional and private
life separated.
The fireman’s status is a permanent one at least psychologically: it is culturally binding
because constant training is considered to be always finalised to its direct or indirect
application or to career advancement within the Corps.
However, it is possible to draw a map of the areas of interest even though taking into account
the previous observations:

•Interpersonal communication training;

•Problem solving (as a managerial skills)
•Foreign languages

A small number of operators asks to be involved in activities that could improve personal skills
such as creativity and personal expression.
The fact that no manual skills are mentioned (hobbies …) only partially contradicts the previous
considerations, since “expressing oneself through doing” is carried out within the organisation

In conclusion, it could be said that the fireman’s community is a closely knitted group with a
very strong sense of belonging. It has a non-military perception of risk in the sense that
personal safety comes second to that of people in difficulty.
The group has high level professional training through the Corps’ structures and by attending
programmes in specialised organisations. The social structure is slowly changing due to the
more and more massive influx of young graduates, diploma holders and women.
The traditional teaching method of passing the knowledge on orally from older and more
expert colleagues to younger ones “on the job” the former acting as guides and points of
reference, is going through a crisis but is still stronger than in other professional areas.
The new technologies are gaining more and more space although their use in transmission of
knowledge and in continuous training is not yet widespread.
Being a fireman is forever, even during rest time, and this strong sense of identity influences
also the choice of training activities.
Good Practices in Adult Education:

From the studies of Malcom Knowles (1913-1997), professor at US Universities and a

known scholar in the field of education, some conclusions can be drawn on how adult
students distinguish themselves from other students in terms of motivation, way of
learning, cognition and stamina):

- adults need to know why they must learn, that is they must be aware of the gap
between already acquired competences and those necessary for work;

- adults consider themselves capable of self-management and going back to a

dependency situation might cause a feeling of reject;

- adult groups are heterogeneous and personal identity is given by past experiences.
They represent a collective knowledge reservoir from which individual potential can be

- adults are ready to learn for specific reasons, therefore, teaching must improve their
competences and must be applied to daily living;

- practical sense. To make it worth investing one’s energy and emotions teaching must
be an abstract exercise but must focus on real life and help carry out tasks and
solving problems;

Motivations also change. Young people are more pliable and conform more easily with
society’s expectations. Adults, instead, have inner motivations for learning, such as
self-realisation, self-esteem, involvement, pleasure … and in the end these are more
important than external pressures (career, available time etc).

Adult learning must be “innovative” in one or more of the following characteristics:

Training organisational method
Use of new technologies and new ways of communication
Personalisation of contents according to needs
Teaching and Learning Methodology



The objective of this training organisation is to answer the demand for adult
community learning. Based on the “Participation method” (with talks, interviews,
observations, focus group) it meets the learning needs and the participants are helped
in outlining the circle’s training project. Education opportunities for self-run small
groups are encouraged. Participants define their needs and their competences.
Participants create spontaneous gathering over one subject, a theme, a field of
interest. Some people with common interests discover to be a resource for each other
and develop reciprocal and cooperative learning within the group as well as self-

The average duration of the circle is 30 hours (with expert intervention if needed); the
number of participants is from 3 to 8; such a small number ensures in-depth
discussion of the subject and favours participation.

Students may put forward proposals on themes to be thoroughly examined, answer

enquiries, widen and develop competences, develop manual and creative skills,
planning and developing together further training aspects.

The model is effective in homogeneous groups of employed workers who have thus
been able to join a “light” training programme to strengthen their transversal skills.
The participants have the opportunity to develop meta-cognitive competences: the
individual and the group are responsible for the project’s pre-established result and
therefore also for questioning themselves, facing-up reality, regain abilities and
develop their potential. In other words, what the individual and the group want to
examine in depth, what they know and what they do not know, what they are lacking
and how to learn what they do not know.

The main and new characteristic of this kind of organisation is that Learning becomes
a passion, a spontaneous meeting free of ties and obligations, very flexible and
manageable also from a formal point of view.

Circoli con presenza femminile oltre il 70%

Mamme arabe si aggiornano
Le donne si raccontano
La scuola siamo noi
Multimedialità applicata
Il corpo: memoria, parole, emozioni
I ching e il pensiero cinese
Erbette spontanne commestibili
Scrittura creativa
Lettura ad alta voce
Capirsi e muoversi a Firenze
Rapporti genitori figli
Mentalità strategica e autodifesa
Risoluzione non violenta dei conflitti

Circoli con presenza maschile oltre il 70%

Sensibilità ed agricoltura
Officine Galileo e Flog
Pignone fra memoria e storia
Lo stereotipo di giudizio
La cultura fiorentina dal dopoguerra ad oggi

Il 53,2% dei partecipanti ha una posizione occupazionale attiva;

Studenti: 7,2%
Disoccupati: 8,4%
Il 70,4% dei partecipanti possiede un titolo medio-alto


This practice is about language courses for traffic policemen useful both at work and
in private life.
It uses a new teaching product called “Didatticomica” employed for a “Courseware in
Foreign Micro-language”

The “didatticomica” is an audio/visual product showing in a “comical” way the type of

situation a traffic policeman can find him/herself in when dealing with a foreigner
asking for directions.

The Courseware in Foreign Micro-language is accessible on the Web; it is a blend of

animation and interaction guiding the student to learning the main grammar and
communication structures of the foreign language in the context in which he/she is

Furthermore, the student can also use:

­ learning objects

­ a forum in which he/she can insert questions, comments and indications regarding
the contents of online forms, requests for clarifications, in-depth views and
personalised assistance in learning.

The objective of this project is to publicise the use of new learning methods supported
by information and communication technology.

New learning and training philosophy completing classic education reaching the target
of life-long learning.

It foresees a public catalogue available to all citizens, possibly of access to educational

activities, personalised service and a virtual library. Each user has his own writing
desk as well as an online tutoring system; the user can also activate and manage
cooperation groups and has all the material needed for the course: e-learning forms
(courseware, video, e-seminars etc), downloadable documents and reports on the
activities carried out.
Community tools employed are: forum, chat line and teaching instruments that allow
to reduce the “distance” in Distant training through the use of communication tools
which encourage interaction between students, tutors and teachers.
The forum, as a teaching tool, includes online seminars where students can confront
their ideas with their colleagues or with the teachers.
In the Chat line questions and answers follow each other rapidly like in a normal
discussion. It is also useful as a teaching tool to organise meetings between students
and teachers to exchange views on the lessons and, if necessary, ask clarifications on
the issues discussed.

The project is an answer to the increasing demand for training connected with the
evolution of the present social/economic system. It also ensures the acquisition of the
necessary competences for life-long learning.

It has been instrumental to a distance professional learning system (FAD), it offers a

number of training courses available online, web based and distributed over the region
through a series of tele-training centres (19 of which spread over the whole region).

It disposes of more than 1200 training products: on-line forms, cd rom, e-books and
guides regarding various themes (environment, ecology, economy, business, computer
science, languages, equal opportunity, public administration, health and social
services, science and technology, service industry and associations) as well as online
tutoring, virtual classrooms, tools for cooperative learning both synchronous and

It is a highly innovative way to answer the needs of all those people who wish to
increase or acquire more specialised competences in a wide field of range.

The economic side of it is important too, since the use of easily accessible computer
technologies has allowed a drastic reduction in the cost of organisation of training
events in parts of the country where this type of service would have been costly.
All these are elements that make the TRIO project a transferable and formattable
experience in other fields.

The basic elements of the project can be described as follows:

It allows access to adult learning courses overcoming space and time obstacles; it
guarantees the quality of service through teaching methods designed on the student’s
needs; it offers interacting training courses both open and at distance; it develops e-
learning and the use of ICT in adult training/learning.
It foresees multimedia implementable training environment, a platform for
establishing and managing virtual classes, it uses Learning Objects - currently there
are 70 of them available – (digital objects supplied in e-learning) and support
activities to training courses (community, general forum, teacher's forum etc)

Other elements are:

High level of personalisation of the courses and therefore improvement of individual
learning style: the teacher can choose and propose to the student those training
activities which are better suited to his life style and training needs. Students, under
the teacher’s guidance, can find several opportunities to exercise their knowledge,
train and interact with their colleagues.
Thanks to the new technologies and to the personalised courses, learners are more
motivated and become the actors of their own training time and space; they become
interactive, cooperating and self-evaluating.
Through the Webquest, on the basis of a reference framework and of the task
description, the students can carry out research work, unveil extra information on
certain subjects, consult the sitography, elaborate the data collected, find an answer
to a problem, propose solutions, browse through concepts and documents.
Teaching methodology from sequential becomes network linked and interactive.
What’s Webquest: through web exploration the adult learner can approach knowledge
in its dynamism. He/She can establish direct contacts with authors, can collect
information, new developments and daily changes in culture, science and techniques.
The adult learner can follow the dynamism of ideas, the evolution of knowledge and
by comparing it with his acquired competences can understand the line between non-
final knowledge, but topical, and final knowledge but non-topical.

The guided research through the web, the possibility of using sitographies, the
constant reference to educational areas that imply diversified competences make both
the leaner and the teacher, the level and interest groups, joint together in research

In comparison with the past, the different approach is in the use of the learning
objects in a circular teaching/learning process rather than reversed, the result being
interactively built knowledge through a critical analysis of the acquired competences.

University Library System – University of Modena – Reggio Emilia

In 2005, training courses for area personnel became operational for the updating of
operators and also to furnish useful qualifications for career improvement and life-long

Some organisation aspects of the method used:

While dealing with adults, therefore learners with a different kind of motivation, ways
of learning, cognition, stamina, it was necessary to use suitable methods. The training
experience has introduced new models used alongside traditional teaching, thus the
recognised importance to refer to criteria beyond the usual procedures.
An active subject learns through exercise, experimentation and trial and error in a
kind of transitive communication with the teacher.
It uses experimental techniques as opposed to the usual transmission techniques. This
method requires the model’s de-structuring: experiments on what is possible are
opposed to detailed training in order to learn through self-development or, better still,
through self-directed learning.
This approach fosters creativity and adaptability to the context (problem solving).
These techniques mould together subject and contents by using the participant’s
experience and have a strong activist connotation: group debates, simulations, case
studies, lab work, mutual help between peers, role playing and structured groups.