Since 2015, following a law called La Buona Scuola (Good School), Italian students have been able to explore the working world, and the business world, during a specific summer period thanks to the now famous Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) program: the Alternanza Scuola-Lavoro (Alternating School and Work), now also known as "planned activities within the paths for transversal skills and orientation". Moreover, from this year onwards, Alternating has become mandatory to sit the baccalaureate exam.
The program that has demonstrated an undeniably high potential providing orientation and facilitating entry into the working world, especially in certain contexts and considering a few upstanding examples. This is the case with Avio Aero, or better yet the Talenti In Volo (Flying Talents) project, launched in 2016 together with Manpower Group. It aims to create a close, beneficial collaboration between secondary schools and companies to share professional or occupational needs. It thus creates a training path for students in the 3rd to the 5th year, based on hands-on experience and technical courses, as well as aptitude.
It is a real opportunity to broaden the educational and training offerings by schools, providing a comparison with the working world and an opportunity for students to put theoretical learning into practice, and finally it allows companies to identify talents early on. "We started off with a model that, over a three years period, would allow very young students attracted by the aeronautical sector to approach the company, acquire specific knowledge about the culture and the market in which Avio Aero operates, and to get to know its technical-productive heart," says Monica Falco, the contact person for training at Avio Aero as well as for many of these youth. She is responsible for Learning Design (from managerial profiles to budding talents).
Within Alternanza Scuola-Lavoro, "we could count on our previous training and orientation experience with various technical institutes that has been in progress since at least 2006/2007," adds Falco. To date, Avio Aero's project has been expanded (as well as active in all its Italian plants) and is rich with brilliant results. More than 3,000 students are involved, only in their 3rd and 4th years, and more than 600 of these come from 15 schools (both technical-professional institutes and high schools) across the country have joined the project: finally, 135 "talents" have been identified among those who completed the course in 2017 and 2018.
For this reason, MIUR listed Avio Aero among the "National Champions" for distinguishing itself within the Alternanza Scuola-Lavoro program. A recent meeting between the company's Training and Talent Acquisition team and the Piedmont portion of these 135 young talents gave the opportunity to confirm these awards and numbers. A few days ago, at SERMIG in Turin, professors and students who participated in the project met to share updates, perspectives and, above all, experiences.
The experiences of the young people who joined Avio Aero in 2017 were stimulating and even more impressive as they participated in real professional internships during the two summer months. In particular, Fabio Baldizzone, Abanob Hani and Simone Taricco shared their experiences and their distinctive path with the audience of young people their age, professors and professionals from Avio Aero and ManPower.
"It all began in 2016," says Fabio, "with the selection process by Manpower in the schools, and among the third-year candidates who had expressed their desire to achieve working in a reality like Avio Aero. In June, with the help of the Avio Aero and Manpower tutors, we were informed of the objectives of the program and what it would mean to work in a global company. They worked with us to strengthen our so-called soft skills, and added hours of classroom theory on issues such as safety, the production process of airplane engine components, organizational dynamics, as well as educational visits to the factory. The following year we took further tests in order to address the real internship scheduled for the summer as best possible: selections were made specifically since the spaces available at Avio Aero were limited. After passing the tests, we were assigned to different departments or professional functions. I joined the Compliance team. For two months, I worked in the office with another boy from another school. We were both supported by two tutors. During this time, I was actively involved in meetings, group work and tasks that were entrusted to me. I was also lucky enough to visit another Avio Aero plant (Borgaretto, e.d.) and I have had international professional relations."
This is how the professional-aptitude training model set up by the company and the school comes to fruition. It spans the last three years of secondary education and goes as far as accompanying students through their high school exam. This is a crucial step in life that in this scenario, along with theoretical knowledge and notions, is enriched by the concrete application of schooling in the real world.
"One day I’d like to join the air force, and in the meantime, I’m pursuing other personal projects within the aviation world, Avio Aero helped me finding the right path for my academic studies"
Simone, following the same procedure, was assigned to another of the company's organizational functions, Sourcing. This is an area with complex dynamics, but extremely concrete and fundamental in any economic system. "During the two-month internship, I observed and studied all the processes that make this area of the company work. My tutor, Manuela, ensured I have contact with her colleagues, who explained their tasks and working methods to me in order to put into practice the best actions under expert guidance."
This experience has definitely contributed to Simone's interest and determination in designing his own future. "Today, I am in my second year of Management Engineering at the Politecnico di Torino, my goal is to complete the three-year course and then continue with a Master's degree and improve my English so I will have greater opportunities. I have even considered learning a third language. In concrete terms, I have many ideas on what the right job for me could be, also dictated by my current interests, which are varied. I hope that the next few years of university, along with internships or work experience, will help me to choose the most suitable path."
Usually, people coming from secondary technical-aeronautical institutes, like Fabio and Abanub, do not consider continuing their education at university as their first option. In fact, by virtue of the typical training in the workplace, that type of diploma allows direct access to the working world. In Italy the rate of university enrolment of young people under 25 indicated by the OECD is 41% compared to 48% on average for the other OECD countries. This therefore seems to be a further beneficial effect of Talenti in Volo: like Simone (a former student from a scientific high school), Fabio also enrolled at university (he is in his second year of International Science of Development and Cooperation) and Abanob is studying Physics at the University of Turin.
"Avio Aero has been the best confirmation with regards to the impression I had about big companies, I have never thought to explore from the inside such a big organization at such a young age"
"But next year I am transferring to the Politecnico di Torino to study aerospace engineering. Above all, I want to finish my studies quickly and with excellent grades. Then I want to find a good job that satisfies me and, above all, I hope to find it in the sector that I am very passionate about, aerospace. I hope it gives me the opportunity to learn and grow," says the young student, who has had the opportunity of going beyond his early educational and professional experience.
"During the fourth year, two other students from the school and I were contacted by the Principle who informed us of the opportunity for an apprenticeship in Avio Aero through the school during the fourth and fifth years," continues Abanob. "The company had selected us and so we began on May 15, 2018, finished on July 31, 2019: we went to the company on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, and the other three days of the week we spent at school. This helped me to organize well between work and study, it made me more responsible because I saw how things work in the working world, how a company works and how you work within it. It didn't make me change my mind about what I wanted to do, because I already knew I wanted to continue to study, but I wanted to be sure I wanted to continue them in this area."
"This experience gave me access to a world of knowledge and my tutor, together with the engineering colleagues, have been so helpful with me as I was just a young boy who was willing to learn"
Going back in time to when they were 16-years-old, none of the boys said to have expected this kind of path, let the amount of motivation, commitment and perspective that have resulted. What would they say to sixteen-year-olds today? The answer is at one for all: they absolutely would recommend these experiences to anyone who has the opportunity and desire. "Do your best and work hard: if you like what you do and you do it well, you will find feedback with passion for sure. And never underestimate any opportunity that is offered to you. Make the most of it and be hungry to learn."