THE TRANSITION FROM THE LOWER SECONDARY TO THE UPPER SECONDARY EDUCATIONAL / VOCATIONAL LEVEL. RESULTS OF A LONGITUDINAL STUDY REALIZED IN CANTON TICINO AND ANALYSIS OF THE MAIN INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT MEASURES

J. Marcionetti, S. Ragazzi, G. Zanolla

University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SWITZERLAND)
According to the Eurostat data of 2012 the Swiss canton of Ticino is with Espace Mittelland the Swiss region with the lowest percentage of early school leavers (term that in the Eurostat’s definition refers to the persons aged from 18 to 24 who have finished no more than a lower secondary education and are not involved in further education or training). This percentage that amounts to 4.7% (against the Swiss mean of 5.5%) has decreased by half in the last 5 years and is significantly lower than the corresponding one in countries such Italy (17.6%), France (11.6%), Germany (10.5%) and Austria (7.6%).

The main goal of this paper is to describe, through the results of a longitudinal study that has involved over 3,000 students in Canton Ticino, the transition from the compulsory to the post-compulsory school or vocational tracks. Although also in Ticino there are people with a fragmented and broken school career, three years after having completed the secondary lower school, more than 85% of the young people is still present in one of the post-compulsory educational tracks. More precisely over 60% of students who begun a secondary upper school in 2010, three years later resulted to be enrolled, without any previous failure, interruption or change, at the last year of the same school. For what concerns the vocational training on account of the crisis both the school system and the labour market of Ticino meet difficulties in absorbing students with a weak school background. Hence some of them end up in a precarious situation already at the age of 14-15 years and see their opportunities of integration in the job market reduced. As for those who manage to find an apprenticeship, a significant percentage of them will change it one or more times in the following years.

Another goal of this paper is the review of the main measures and initiatives provided by the Canton and aimed at lending support to young people during the above mentioned school transition. In conclusion the support system to school transition in Ticino is well developed since there are numerous initiatives especially for those who are more vulnerable and have more difficulties during this step. However the presence of so many measures increases the risk of overlapping and of disorientation of the students and implies considerable efforts of coordination in order not to undermine their efficacy.