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Organisation of post-secondary non-tertiary education


6.Secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education

6.10Organisation of post-secondary non-tertiary education

Last update: 27 November 2023

The post-secondary level offers two types of courses: courses belonging to the Higher technical education and training system (Istruzione e formazione tecnica superiore - IFTS) and courses organised within the vocational training system managed by the Regions ‘post diploma/post qualification’.

The Higher technical education and training (IFTS) courses aim mainly to develop professional specialisations and to meet the requirements of the labour market, both in the public and private sectors. They represent a further step of vocational and technical upper secondary school education as well as of regional three-year vocational education and training.

Regional post diploma/post qualification courses (or ‘second level’ courses) are short vocational training courses addressed to those who already hold a qualification obtained either in the regional or in the State vocational training system. They are organised with funds coming from the European Social Fund and aim at the acquisition of high-level theoretical, technical and managerial skills, also through practical work and stages in enterprises.

Types of institutions

Higher technical education and training system (IFTS)

Four types of providers, formally associated also in the form of a consortium, organise and offer IFTS courses: a school, a vocational training institute, a university, an enterprise or another public or private subject.

Regional post-diploma/post-qualification courses

Courses are organised by training agencies accredited by the Regions.

Geographical accessibility

Higher technical education and training system (IFTS)

Higher technical education and training is available nationwide.

Regional post-diploma/post-qualification courses

The presence of training agencies offering regional vocational and training courses is not homogeneous in the national territory.

Admission requirements and choice of school

Higher technical education and training system (IFTS)

The following subjects can access IFTS courses (800-100 hours): anyone (adults included) holding an upper secondary education leaving certificate or a vocational diploma obtained in the regional vocational education and training system; anyone admitted to the fifth year of liceo and those who do not hold any upper secondary certification. These latter are required to hold a certification of competences acquired through previous training and working experiences undergone after compulsory education.

Regional post-diploma/post-qualification courses

Those holding an upper secondary school leaving certificate or a first-level qualification can enrol in post-diploma/post-qualification courses.

Often, students undergo a selective procedure, which may include entrance tests as well as interviews; sometimes,  a specific upper secondary school certificate or a previous specific working experience is required.

Age level and grouping of pupils

Higher technical education and training system (IFTS)

Young people and adults can enrol in IFTS courses. Courses are not organised according to learners’ age.

Regional post-diploma/post-qualification courses

Classes are not organised according to learners’ age. Learners are grouped according to specific conditions required by the course announcement (e.g. being unemployed, holding a specific qualification).

Specialisation of studies

Higher technical education and training system (IFTS)

IFTS courses are offered in 20 specialisations established at national level and corresponding to 5 professional areas. Specialisations and the relevant standards are revised every third year by the State/Regions Unified Conference.

Regions plan IFTS courses, within their own exclusive competences, adapting specialisations and minimum standards to the needs of specific productive fields.

The national specialisations and the relevant professional areas are:

Professional area Specialisation
Manufacture and handicraft Technics for made in Italy handicraft products
Mechanics, plants and buildings

Technics for industrial design

Technics of industrialisation of products and processes

Technics for production planning and logistics

Technics of installation and maintenance of civic and industrial plants

Technics of environmental security systems and quality of industrial processes

Technics of monitoring and management of the territory and the environment

Technics of maintenance, repair and testing of diagnostic devices

Technics of organisation and management of a building yard

Technics for innovative building

Culture, information and ICT

Technics for the security of networks and systems

Technics for the design and development of computer applications

Technics for the integration of systems and TLC equipment

Technics for the design and management of databases

Technics of medical data processing

Technics of multi-media production

Technics of set design

Business services Technics for the economic-financial administration
Tourism and sport

Technics of design of craft processes and food processing with typical local and traditional food products

Technics for the promotion of products and touristic services with attention to local resources, opportunities and events

Source: Inter-ministerial decree of 7 February 2013

Regional post-diploma/post-qualification courses

Course are job-oriented and should meet the requests coming from the labour market at local level. Courses duration goes from 400 to 600-800 hours and lead to a regional qualification corresponding to specific professional areas. Professional areas are not listed in a national register.

Organisation of school time

Higher technical education and training system (IFTS)

IFTS courses last 2 semesters, for a total of 800/1000 hours.

Given the great variety of courses and their flexible organization, it is not possible to give information on the timetable, which is defined specifically for each course.

Regional post-diploma/post-qualification courses

Courses usually last one year, more rarely two years. A minimum attendance corresponding to 2/3 of the overall timetable is necessary for the admission to the final exam. Courses are organised on modules or units corresponding to a specific topic or to the acquisition of specific competences.

Timetables are organised at regional and local level and subsequently defined by the training agency providing the course (e.g. lessons grouped in a few weeks or distributed throughout the year).