Industry and VET 4.0 in Italy

  1. Definition

Italy is still at a starting phase regarding Industry 4.0, and at an even earlier stage regarding VET 4.0.

We can say that, at the moment, there is no set definition in Italy for VET 4.0, apart from “VET for Industry 4.0”. On the opposite, there is a clear official definition of Industry 4.0. According to the recent informative survey of the Italian Ministry for Productive Activities, Commerce and Tourism[1], “Industry 4.0” (Industria 4.0 in Italian) stands for an emerging industrial paradigm, able to cause an industrial revolution comparable to those occurred in the last three centuries. In this “fourth industrial revolution” there is no single and revolutionary enabling technology (like steam or electrical power); rather, a set of enabling technologies, aggregating through the Internet into new production paradigms. Such paradigms will underpin many different kinds of innovation, depending also on sectors: process-related, organisational, product-related, business model-related. Hence, this is an in-progress innovation. Industry 4.0, more frequently than other wording (smart manufacturing, industry of the future, digital industry, advanced manufacturing, intelligent industry, etc.) is used to describe a set of rapid technology changes in design, production and distribution of products and systems. More specifically, it refers to the organisation of production processes based on technology and inter-communicating devices.


  1. State of play

At the same time, the Italian Government is pushing towards a wider adoption of dual education and training systems in Italy. On 24.09.2015, the Presidency of the Italian Government signed an official agreement with Italian Regions (who are entitled to govern VET in Italy), starting the experimentation of dual training at all levels in Italian VET programmes, including apprenticeship. The idea underpinning this agreement is to better provide students with technical and soft skills required by the labour market. In this streamline, on 13.01.2016 Region Emilia-Romagna signed one additional agreement with the Italian Ministry of Labour, for further fostering the integration between the training system and the labour market, with special reference to sectors included in the regional Smart Specialization Strategy. That is, with strong focus on Industry 4.0 sectors.

More recently, on 21.09.2016, the Italian Government launched the so-called “National Plan for Industry 4.0”[2], for years 2017-2020, based on 2 key actions, 2 supporting actions, and 1 cross-cutting one:


Action type

Action name


Private budget

Public budget

Key actions

Innovative investments

·     Foster private investments in technologies and goods 4.0

·     Increase private expenditure on R&D and innovation

·     Enforce finance in support to Industry 4.0 & start-up

ca. 24 bln €

ca. 13 bln €



·     Spread culture about Industry 4.0 through Digital School (educational national programme) and the new born Dual System programme

·     Develop skills for Industry 4.0 through dedicated University and HVET (EQF5) training programmes

·     Finance research for Industry 4.0 by reinforcing clusters and PhDs

·     Create Competence Centres and Digital Innovation Hubs

ca. 200 mln €

ca. 700 mln €

Supporting actions

Enabling infrastructures

·     Ensure sufficient networking infrastructure (national Plan for Ultra-Large Band)

·     Collaboration in definition of inter-operability standards and criteria for the Internet of Things

ca. 32 bln €

ca. 10 bln €


Public support

·     Guarantee private investments

·     Support large innovative investments

·     Reinforce and innovate mastership of international markets

·     Support exchanges salaries-productivity through de-centred business contracts

Cross-cutting action

Governance and awareness

·     Awareness raising on Industry 4.0 and capacity building for public-private governance




It is also worthwhile mentioning that in June 2014 the Italian Ministry of Education launched a national experimental Programme on alternanting school and work, called “Alternanza Scuola Lavoro”[3] that is a sort of “dual system”, for students in the 4th and 5th year of upper secondary schools of any kind (EQF4). Internships in companies are managed through apprenticeship contracts, and can cover up to 35% of the available school schedule (about 200 hours).

Please note that, due to the Italian School system organization, this Programme applies to Lycei, to upper secondary technical schools (“Istituti tecnici”) and to VET schools (the so-called “Istituti Professionali Statali per l’Industria e l’Artigianato”).


  1. “Requirements” for VET

Key action “competences” is the one pertaining to Education and Training.

Goals of such action are, by year 2020:

  • 000 university students and 3.000 company managers specialized into I4.0 subjects;
  • +100% students enrolled into EQF5 (ITS – Istituti Tecnici Superiori – Higher Technical Institutes) programmes relating to I4.0 subjects;
  • about 1.400 PhD focused on I4.0 (over a total of about 5.000 foreseen in all disciplines);
  • development of Create Competence Centres and Digital Innovation Hubs.


Corresponding initiatives are as follows:



Private budget

Public budget

National plan for Digital Schools:

-        competences for manufacturing 4.0: creative workshops, technology courses and laboratories;

-        territorial laboratories: meetings school/business, development of digital competences for the “Made in Italy”;

-        digital curricula: development of 25 further curricula with focus on digital competences and I4.0;

-        computational thinking: developing computational thinking in primary schools.


355 mln €

Focussing the dual system (“Alternanza Scuola Lavoro”) on programmes coherent with I4.0

Specialising university programmes, Master programmes and Master Executive programmes on domains I4.0, in partnership with relevant industrial and technologicial players

30 mln €

70 mln €

Increasing the number of students in EQF5 programmes (ITS) regarding I4.0 topics, by broadening the training offer

Enforcing technology clusters on “Smart Factories” and “Agro-food”

70 mln €

170 mln €

Increasing the number of PhDs on I4.0 subjects

Creation of national Competence Centres on I4.0

100 mln €

100 mln €

Enhancing competences in companies throu C-VET (the so called “Fondi Interprofessionali”)

yet to be decided


≈ 200 mln €

≈ 700 mln €



[1]      “Indagine conoscitiva su «Industria 4.0»: quale modello applicare al tessuto industriale italiano. Strumenti per favorire la digitalizzazione delle filiere industriali nazionali”, X Permanent Commission, Italian Ministry of Productive Activities, Commerce and Tourism, 30.06.2016., last successfully accessed on 21.10.2016.

[2]      The official website (available only in Italian) is:, last successfully accessed on 24.10.2016.

[3]      The text of the Decree establishing the Programme is available here:, last successfully accessed on 24.10.2016.