2017 began with an important change for about 1.6 million workers, who, thanks to the introduction of the new national metalworkers’ contract, have been awarded the Individual Right to Training, thanks to which they will have the opportunity to take part in at least 24 hours of training courses from 2017 to 2019. The main new development introduced by this legislation is that training has officially become a quantifiable and measurable individual right that can be exercised by each worker, both inside and outside their place of employment: this is an important paradigm shift that definitively establishes the importance of ongoing education, above all nowadays given the continuous changes brought about by the “Digital Wave”.
What is the Individual Right to Training?
In short, and without going into too much detail with regard to the various contractual nuances, the Individual Right has the following basic characteristics:
- It provides for at least 24 hours of training for each worker from 2017 to 2019
- It covers all workers with open-ended contracts, both full time and part time (the 24 hours can be re-proportioned for the latter)
- If the company does not organise its own training activities, the worker has the right to participate in 24 hours’ worth of external courses of their choosing, of which 2/3 will be paid by the company and 1/3 will be at his/her own expense, in addition to a contribution of &euro 300 to cover the costs
- For workers with fixed-term contracts, the principle of non-discrimination applies, while those with apprenticeship contracts are not covered, since training constitutes a fundamental aspect of the contractual relationship
- The maximum percentage of simultaneous absence from work envisaged by the law is 3%, and, if the 24 hours of training cannot be obtained without exceeding this percentage, the hours not utilised will be carried over and summed with those of the following three-year period
- If the worker does not take measures to exercise his or her right, the hours not requested will not be carried over
- Companies participating in an inter-professional training fund can choose to fund the foreseen training courses
Different training approaches: from traditional to e-learning
This legislation thus has intrinsic characteristics that make it quite fluid and adaptable to the various needs of Italian companies. In particular, as a trainer I was rather impressed by the fact that the organisation of the training activities can entail different approaches: from the most classic classroom courses, to coaching, mentoring, action learning, and naturally (or perhaps I should say “finally”) e-learning. This choice further highlights how the word “right” is often also associated the term “responsibility”, which, in this case, has a two-fold meaning: the company’s responsibility to create the conditions for the worker to exercise their right, and the workers’ responsibility to take advantage of the growth opportunities proposed to them, and, if necessary, to seek out possible alternatives. It is therefore important for various learning sessions be planned, with the precise aim of improving the workers’ personal and professional knowledge and skills, thus facilitating their individual pathways of growth all while ensuring the detailed traceability and reporting of all the initiatives carried out.
Microlearning and blended training: always available, from any device
This framework encompasses all the initiatives associated with digital training, which, thanks to its modularity, is extremely versatile, suitable for groups of all sizes, customisable at different levels, and easy to monitor. For example, it is also possible to comply with the provisions of the Individual Right to Training by organising exclusively online courses, thus allowing the workers to enjoy maximum training flexibility, both on the company’s premises during work hours, and outside work hours. One example is described in this news item. In particular, in the metalworking sector, the so-called “blue collar” workers generally work shifts at production sites located throughout the country, and almost never have computers or company e-mail addresses. Thanks to the technological solutions available in the educational field, they can still be reached with brief and effective training modules focused upon their specific needs (possibly even adaptive based on their preferences or learning mechanisms), which can be easily administered, for example, on shared computers, interactive totems, or even on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). This different, more complete, and more responsible approach brings people directly into contact with the training sessions themselves, thus creating continuous opportunities for growth. Making training courses available in this type of “pill” format allows people to create their own pathways by choosing their subject matter and learning methods based on their individual preferences this opens up the doors to constructive dialogues between colleagues, and creates the conditions for the growth of new knowledge. Everyone can evaluate and refine their own training based on their needs and available time, thus leaving behind the passiveness that arises from being enrolled in a course and entering a new and more active dimension of experimentation and participation in one’s own learning pathway. Thanks to digital and blended training, the conditions can be created for the Individual Right to the Training to come into full effect. This is thanks to the creation of the conditions necessary for each worker to benefit from the organised initiatives, as well as the direct engagement of the end users who, in fact, are called upon to actively participate. During the last exploring eLearning event I attended a seminar on the Individual Right to Training, and one of the speakers made a joke that struck a chord with me: “Training initiatives are like weddings: if you’re invited, you start thinking about the organisational difficulties, and if you’re not invited you wonder why…” introducing the concept of training as an individual right actually allows us to break this cycle and to view learning sessions as opportunities for growth and dialogue. What’s more, if the different corporate realities are able to render these sessions modular and available to everyone and at different times of the day, then it will certainly be possible to make the most of this cultural change, which in turn can enrich the future relationships between workers and companies in a reciprocal and productive manner. Mirco Alberti