15 January 2014

Public programs supporting work integration in the Trento province – Intervento 18

Intervento 18 beneficiaries

Intervento 18 is an active labor market policy co-financed by ESF. Unemployed people from different disadvantage groups find work-training and job in cooperatives in Trento province (Italy).
Author and organizational affiliations: Sara Depedri (Euricse – European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises) – Trento - Italy
1. Context and history of how the good practice has been developed
The province in which the case study takes place is characterised by: (i) a high level of autonomy and power in conducing local policies, since Trento is one of the two Autonomous Province in Italy; (ii) a high average income and a low unemployment rate; (iii) a good level of development of social enterprises. The first aspect implicates that autonomy ensures the Trento province higher public funds, other than the opportunity to enjoy of the opportunity to promote special local institutions (as the Local Agency of Employment is) and regional regulation.
As a consequence, the province is, comparatively to other Italian region and provinces, richer in terms of public expenditure and opportunities to support local enterprises and private actors of the third sector. The second feature determines the attention of local authorities to specific classes of unemployed persons and expressly, since the average short-term unemployment of ordinary workers and the good job opportunities and training activities to educated people, the attention to long-term unemployed like vulnerable people and the new disadvantaged workers on the labor market.
The third aspect that characterises the province is the high development of social enterprises. While emerged as a bottom-up process during the ‘80s, these organizations were firstly recognised in Italy exactly in the province of Trento by the Regional law nr.24 in 1988 on the so called “social solidarity cooperatives”, and therefore the local government anticipates some years the national regulation on the so called “social cooperatives” (Law n. 381 promulgated in 1991).
After the legal recognition, the number of social enterprises has grown exponentially and today national data speak about a total of more than 13,000 social cooperatives (i.e., the most diffused type of social enterprises in Italy) of which about 5,000 are employing disadvantaged workers (WISEs or so called B type social cooperatives) and the others providing social services (so called A type social cooperatives). WISEs are mostly small to medium sized firms (43% of them employing between 15 and 50 ordinary employees), while volunteerism represents a very important resource available to more than 60% of them. In the Trento province, the number of work integration social cooperatives amounts to 29 organizations and the number of social cooperatives providing social services is 66.
The sector of activity in which these organizations operate is quite heterogeneous; therefore revenues depend upon the type of activity exercised and public revenues tend on average to prevail on private revenues since many services are supplied to public authorities.
Both the national and the regional context are therefore characterised by an increasing relevance of the social enterprise sector, by public policies supporting subsidiarity, i.e. the externalization of the provision of public services to private nonprofit firms (national Law 328/2000), by the need to introduce disadvantaged workers in the labor market due to the low rate of disabled people employed by law in for-profit enterprises. ESF works both at national and at regional level, and for example the Trento province is acquiring specific financing in relation to the European Regional Development Funds. Social enterprises are receiving funds both for training activities and the development of new projects, and in the Trento province the local government manages parts of the European funds for a direct support to social enterprises.
In this context, the Local Agency of Employment was founded in 1983 with the Provincial decree n.19 as the institute supporting active labor market policies. While the Agency at the beginning provided for the implementation of general policies for training activities devoted to increase abilities and knowledge of unemployed workers, for policies supporting females and disadvantage workers on the labor market, but exclusively by providing the services itself or by regulating the relationship with local business firms, from 1992 a new policy (named Action 9 until 2012 and actually called Intervento 18) was enacted that established economic support to social cooperatives providing work integration to disadvantaged people.
From the beginning, Intervento 18 specified the target of disadvantaged people beneficiary of the Action, the support to start-up phases and the coverage of part of the labor costs for disadvantaged workers employed in social cooperatives, and the general rules for the supply of the contribution. Few interventions and modifications were implemented in the following years and they were only directed to increase the economic support and the efficiency of the action.
In the three-year plan 2008-2010 by the Local Agency of Employment, the number of years in which the disadvantaged workers enjoy of the financial contribution from the local agency was extended from 6 to 9 for psychiatric disabled and from 2 to 3 for all other vulnerable people; moreover, subsidies supplied to the social cooperative was extended also to the expenses for the training of ordinary workers of the social cooperatives.
From 1992 to 2011 27 social cooperatives have benefitted from the contribution by the Agency. Four of them were beneficiaries from 1992 onwards, while the number progressively increase to 17 financed social cooperatives in 2011 (where the number of local WISCs is 27).
With the described characteristics, Intervento 18 depicts as a policy that recognises the problem of reduced productivity of disadvantaged workers and the difficulty to integrate them in the labor market and into business companies. The policy addresses specifically to financially support those organizations that have good training plans and give real job opportunities to disadvantaged workers. This way, it answers to two real problems. On the one side, the low number of disadvantaged workers who otherwise would be employed in business firms. Notwithstanding an Italian law establishing the oblige for business firms with more than 15 workers to employ a certain percentage of disadvantaged workers, firms that do not respect the obligation only incur in a fine and most of Italian forms therefore prefer to pay the fine instead of employing vulnerable people.
The unemployment of vulnerable people is therefore a real problem. On the other side, while WISCs produce commercial goods and services and therefore perform on the ordinary market, they had some difficulties to compete with business firms on the same market. As a consequence, until the ‘90s most of social cooperatives in the Trento province was producing goods and services to be sold to the public administration mainly: green maintenance services, refuse collection, laundry and cleaning services for hospitals and public offices, etc. the risk was a total depending by public funding and by procurement, where the number of WISCs were increasing and thus the competition among WISCs themselves to win public contracts was increasing. In order to support the level of entrepreneurship and autonomy by WISCs, Intervento 18 provided for financial support to their innovation, to the training of both disadvantaged and ordinary workers, and to individual projects that ensure a real integration in the market and in the labor market.
In comparison to other regions and provinces having a special regulation for social cooperatives, the Trento province distinguishes for supporting WISCs in the framework of labor policies. WISCs are not considered subjects of the welfare system itself and they do not benefit for specific contribution supplied by the Department for social policies, but the Local Agency of Employment works in partnership with WISCs in order to ameliorate active labor policies devoted to disadvantaged workers.
As premised, the funding of these policies is linked with the financial availability of the Autonomous Province of Trento, and until today the amount of funding is increased, never restricted. Nonetheless, the cut of public funding and the economic crisis of the last years could compromise the opportunity by the local province to continue to financially support in the same amount the local WISCs. A consideration on the public expenditure for WISCs therefore emerge: if the total amount of subsidies to WISCs were decreased due to the crisis, WISCs should reduce the number of disadvantaged people and their activity in general, but for each disadvantaged worker no longer employed in the WISC the public administration should support them with minimum incomes and disability pensions (i.e., with passive labor market policies).
The rationale of Intervento 18 therefore consists in the opportunity to promote an active labor market policy that advantages vulnerable people and create real job opportunities and therefore which stays in the middle between social and labor policies and reinforce the good practice of subsidiariety by giving space to social cooperatives and by reinforcing their entrepreneurial traits.
2. Summary of main characteristics of good practice approach
In the province of Trento, the Local Employment Agency (public body of the Autonomous Province of Trento, to which is delegated the implementation of active labor market policies) has for twenty years now been promoting specific measures for the work integration needs of vulnerable people. Among them, the so called Action 9—re-named in 2012 “Intervento 18”—includes WISCs as actors of active labor policies and supports their activity by distributing subsidies depending on the employment impact and on the innovation of the work integration practices and procedures (expressed in training activities and investments in tutors and individual programs).
Subsidies distributed derive from the provincial budget and their amount depend on the availability of funding which are approved by the Provincial Government in implementation of the third-year Provincial Development Program, where also some European funds flow. The Agency suggests in its guidelines to manage the funding by pursuing efficiency, flexibility, subsidiarity, simplification, monitoring.
Given the public spending, the policy is sustainable in the amounts provided, while it is also source of total savings for the government as we will demonstrate in section 3.
The general goal of this practice can be individuated in providing incentives to those organizations (social cooperatives) which are more active in supplying job opportunities and training to disadvantaged workers and recognizing their role in increasing the employment rate of vulnerable people. As an indirect aim, the structure of this policy seems to also increase the entrepreneurial nature of these organizations and their interest in achieving a minimum turn-over rate of their disadvantaged workers.
The former aim is supported by the part of subsidies devoted to cover parts of the investments by the cooperative and of the professionalization of its workers; the later aim relates with the supply of individual subsidies to disadvantaged workers employed in the cooperatives for some years only and not for the entire employment period in the cooperative.
By looking to the action in detail, the relationship between the Local Agency of Employment and WISCs is more structured than a simple supply of subsidies from the public administration, since there is a frequent exchange of information and somewhat co-planning on the integration projects. Specifically:
Subsidies are assigned after an attentive evaluation of the cooperative and of its work integration project. In order to estimate whether a social cooperative can be admitted to the public financing, the WISC must present to the Agency: its annual strategic plan and information about the economic sustainability of the organization; an yearly relation on the coherence among the entrepreneurial activity and the work integration aims; the relationship between ordinary and disadvantaged workers; detailed reports on the methodologies used to integrate disadvantaged people into the workplace, to evaluate their progresses, to support their integration with training programs, to invest in specific supportive figures like tutors (paid employees of WISCs who train the disadvantaged workers and are therefore the pillars for the development of skills and the productivity of the disadvantaged) and the social responsible (who manages the individual training programs, decide for hiring new disadvantaged workers, cooperate with external institutions), to facilitate the access of trained disadvantaged workers in the open labor market;
The evaluation ex-ante of the WISCs’ projects is then integrated by a final evaluation of outcomes achieved and by annual monitoring; the Agency itself provides for the monitoring of the activity, but in the last years it is also increased the partnership with the local consortia of social cooperatives (Consolida), to which is delegated part of the training activity, of the education of social cooperatives in approaching the subsidies, of control and coordination among social cooperatives, and therefore of increasing co-planning of the development of WISCs in the provincial scenario;
The Agency co-plan with the WISC itself and with some local social services the individuation of vulnerable people to be integrated, although the cooperatives can (and frequently do) propose the name of the person to be integrated;
The Agency helps WISCs in individuating possible partners for the hiring of trained disadvantaged workers, especially on the open labor market and among local business firms (the Agency is also in touch with the local Chamber of Commerce and with local associations of entrepreneurs).
The tools supported by the Agency to finance WISCs are:

  • the availability of individual additional subsidies for the first three years of employment of disadvantaged workers in the cooperative; individual subsidies can be extended to six years more for those workers with psychiatric problems who are evaluated as not employable in an ordinary position after the three years period. The individual subsidies are supplied in differentiated amounts: they coverage the 60% of the total labor costs at the first year of employment in the WISC, the 40% of the labor costs at the second year, the 30% at the third year, while for people with psychiatric problems the coverage of 20% of the labor costs for the following six years;
  • a subsidies for the coverage of the labor costs of tutors (for a total of max 50% of their labor costs when the number of employed people is over 3 persons) and of the so called social responsible (for the 60% of their labor costs);
  • general subsidies to social cooperatives which are also provided for specific activities, such as feasibility study and business plans for new social cooperatives start-ups, training activities for ordinary workers in social cooperatives, investments in new products and procedures necessary to innovate the social cooperatives’ action.

The total amount of subsidies supplied to social cooperatives is as a consequence quite huge: they were about 300.000 Euros in 1994 and they increased progressively to 1,5 million Euros in 2010, with an increasing impact also in terms of number of beneficiary social cooperatives.
3. Evidence/Justification for Good Practice
Generally speaking and by analysing the partnership among the Local Agency of Employment and WISCs in the province of Trento from an external point of view, the model emerges as a good practice due to some specificities that characterise it and some innovations that helps in defining this model both efficient and effective.
3.1 hard evidence:
In order to give a hard evidence of the quality of whatever practice having a socio-economic impact, we must test it efficiency and it effectiveness, where the former consists of the ability in saving resources when producing some services or in achieving higher outputs with the same amount of resources; while effectiveness consists of the achievement of the final goal (which usually have in this sector a social dimension). Both efficiency and effectiveness has been tested in a recent investigation on Intervento 18 and the main results are reported in the following bullets.

  • The first effect is the level of employability and of success of the training and work integration program; in a comparative analysis on some North-Italy provinces, cooperatives in the province of Trento register the lowest number of disadvantaged people who did not conclude their training program (only 12.4% on an average of 28%, although some other provinces employ higher numbers of psychiatric workers and people with high disabilities, so that people more difficult to be recovered to work); nonetheless, due to subsidies provided by the Local employment agency but also to internal policies, social cooperatives in the Trento province tend to register higher number than the average of disadvantaged workers staying in the cooperative after their training (52.2% against 20% in other social cooperatives in the North); when people find a job in other organizations, it is however the province of Trento again in achieving good results, since workers are than employed mostly in private for-profit organizations (57.5% on those employed in external organizations against 40.9% on average) instead of in public bodies or in other cooperatives and consortium (as in most of the other cases in the North);
  • The second consequence is the quality of the work integration process, since quite all the social cooperatives in Trento have social responsible and tutors and a planning of training programs, while they are not so diffused in other provinces and regions; by looking in detail to the managing of local WISCs, it emerges that quality is also ensured by the involvement in the process of psychologist and doctors and by the continuous comparison with social workers, employees of the province;
  • Thirdly and most interestingly from an economic perspective, a cost-benefit analysis carried out on these organizations demonstrates that vulnerable people employed in social cooperatives—instead of being supported by social and income-support policies—let the public administration save about 4,500 Euros per worker per year, that means 61,400 Euros in the average total working life of a disadvantaged workers who find a stable job in the social cooperative or in another organization. The cost-benefit analysis collected data on all benefits received by social cooperatives (tax exemption and fiscal advantages ensured by law to social cooperatives, not paid taxes on the cost of labor, and mainly the subsidies from the Local employment agency) in comparison to financial benefits and exchanges produced for the public administration by the social cooperatives (VAT created on the production realised by disadvantaged workers, other taxes paid, less social services required by vulnerable people employed, less disability pensions and minimum incomes and unemployment subsidies supplied to people in need and without a job); it demonstrates that notwithstanding the huge amount of subsidies supplied to the social cooperative through Intervento 18 (on average 85thousands Euros to the cooperative plus 2,700 Euros for each disadvantage worker in them employed in the first years of his/her training), social cooperatives react to this financial support by being productive and efficient and by using these resources in a positive (not opportunistic) way; as final consequence, even as expensive in terms of total subsidies supplied to the sector, Intervento 18 is sustainable in the long run, since it ensures public funding savings. It is however to note that the Autonomous Province supports the real cost: while subsidies represent an exit for the sole Province, benefits are mainly generated for the Central Government, which is at last the real beneficiary of the intervention (in terms of financial savings).
  • Finally, work integration policies in the social cooperatives enjoying of the local subsidies are evaluated in a very positive way by people who experiences the work integration process; questionnaires administered to a representative sample of disadvantaged workers show that they trust in their abilities (3.7 on a scale from 1 to 5), they feel to succeed in their job (4.1 same scale), they can face with most of their trouble and find that the organization helped them in also increasing their ability to relate with others (scores around 4), and synthetically they feel happy with their lives (average score 5 on a scale from 1 to 7).

3.2 soft evidence:
We can individuate some soft evidence supporting Intervento 18 as a good practices by claiming that:

  • it establishes a strong relationship not only between the public and the private actor, but is also enforces the continuity between social and labor policies;
  • in the context of the labor policy, the action does not only support the supply of work, by helping disadvantaged people to find a job and by contributing to the passive labor market policies, but it conforms as a proper active labor market policy that supports the job demand by social cooperatives, which are explicitly sustained in their emergence and enforcement;
  • the Action believe in the need of professionalized employees for WISCs, since tutors and social responsible are recognised having a prominent role in the quality of the integration services and the professionals’ training is therefore financially supported;
  • the partnership recognises the progressive enlargement of employment problems and of the definition of disadvantage on the labor market, since subsidies and work integration policies related to the action do not only involve disadvantaged people who is recognised by law 181/1991 on WISCs, but also enlarge to other disadvantaged workers who present economic difficulties or social problems and therefore are explicitly recognised by the local social services as people in need; social cooperatives and public bodies are therefore coming more and more sensible to the unemployment problems of emerging classes of disadvantaged workers;
  • the partnership is based on the presentation of a detailed work integration and training program for disadvantaged workers and not only planning but also monitoring of the results are included in the process; therefore, the structure of the partnership is somewhat bureaucratic while it significantly reduces opportunistic behaviours by subject financed and excessive financial dependency; this planned training program has obviously positive effects for the disadvantaged workers in terms of quality and better outcomes.

4. Outcomes (for different stakeholders)
The main outcome of Intervento 18 can be individuated in the number of disadvantaged workers who have benefitted for the financial support of the action until today: 1,000 vulnerable people, of which about 21% were drug addicts, 20% had physical disabilities and 15% psychical disabilities, 14% were prisoners, and the others came from other recognised disadvantages. The percentage of disadvantaged workers who continued to be employed after their training period has been on average of the 50%, of which two third found a job in a private firm, while the others continued their activity in the same social cooperative.
Another consequence of the partnership between the Local Agency of Employment and WISCs is the role that the former is covering also in intermediating on the open labor market. The co-planning with the Agency helps WISCs in better individuating jobs and tasks that are required by the local labor market and by private organizations; furthermore, the Agency helps WISCs in connecting to the local private demand of employees by private business firms. This last relationship helps in increasing the number of trained workers who find a job in business firms. The stakeholder which indirectly benefit of Intervento 18 are therefore the local business firms that are expressing to the Agency their need and employ people with intermediate or already acquired specific skills.
If the action is welcome by the local stekeholders has not been properly evaluated. We can assume that the action can be perceived somewhat unfair since it benefits a part of the local WISCs only, but the selection is very clear and open, and not-selected organizations lack in specific projects and efficient individual programs for disadvantaged workers and therefore the financing method must be considered more efficient than selective.
The high level of subsidies could instead be perceived as unfair by also the local business firms producing their goods in the same sector of activity of some WISCs and therefore that compete on the same market of goods. While this could be the perception, local business firms tend on the opposite to collaborate more with WISCs on part of their production process, instead of competing. With positive results for for-profit firms too, in terms of economies of scale.
Maybe the most interesting debate within the WISCs movement and the representative bodies of WISCs concerns instead the way in which subsidies are supplied. While the usual way is the direct allocation of the subsidy to the WISC, the province is experimenting the assignment of voucher to disadvantaged people, which can be then used to find a job and cover part of their wage when employed in the social cooperative.
5. Strengths and Weaknesses
The main strengths of Intervento 18 can be summarised in:

  • amelioration of the individual projects of training and therefore of the quality of skills and knowledge acquired by disadvantaged workers and of their opportunity to find a job on the open labor market. Social cooperatives working with the Agency usually tend to employ people only for some years in the cooperative, and then to support their employment in other private organizations or in the open labor market. These strategies, which represent an index of quality in the Agency evaluation, are ensured by an on-the-job training, which is sometimes accompanied by specific education programs in the schools where young vulnerable people learn, and by a co-planning of activities and job profiles in line with the needs of the open labor market and of local firms;
  • co-planning among different partners (the Agency, the local public services, WISCs, and sometimes employees and entrepreneurs) for a better meeting of the demand with the supply of job by vulnerable people and co-planning of the most employable classes of disadvantaged people to be integrated in WISCs;
  • strong partnership and cooperation among all of the partners and stakeholder, local business firms requiring trained workers and buying goods from WISCs included;
  • winning mix of social policies and labor market policies;
  • for the public administration, answer to a social problem and saving of costs;
  • for the disadvantaged workers and their families, increase of the wellbeing, of the financial situation and increase in the autonomy and self-perception of the vulnerable person; furthermore the policy does not only increase the quality of life for people employed, but allows training for a higher number of disadvantaged workers thanks to the increase in their real job opportunities; and finally, it is to note that, if these the direct results of Intervento 18 for vulnerable people, also the governance model of WISCs further supports the positive results of this partnership: vulnerable workers, their representatives or some of their family members participate in the membership and in the decision making process of WISCs (most of these WISCs are multistakeholder organizations);
  • for the local community, decrease of social problems and criminality, especially when integrating in the job (and in the society) drug addicts and prisoners (decrease of their possibility to incur again in criminal acts or in problems of about 90%); these outcomes are not probed specifically for the Trento province and as an outcome of Intervento 18, but national data as well as international surveys supports generally demonstrate the positive social return on investment in terms of decrease of crime and increase in social capital, why our investigation on the social services use by vulnerable workers demonstrate the decrease in the spending by hospitals and other public services;
  • for WISCs themselves, increase of the long-run planning and of investment opportunities, without reducing their entrepreneurial ability; in fact, if subsidies partially cover new expenses, they do not totally support WISCs in their productive function and this policy goads WISCs to find themselves other types of revenues and sources of financing.

An evident weakness of Intervento 18 is the presence of a 30% of disadvantaged people who received the training and finished their work integration period in the WISC but at the end did find no job and therefore become unemployed. This data would represent a real weakness when it was generated by the opportunism of social cooperatives: they employ the disadvantaged worker only when the Agency cover his/her labor costs and then it replaces the worker with a new covered one. The monitoring by the Agency, by social workers, and by the local consortia however reduce this risk and it must be considered that, should the WISC decide to assume all the trained workers who were not finding a job after the training period, the turn-over of disadvantaged workers would reduce and thus the number of trained people.
Another weakness is individuated in the slow capacity of the action to follow the emerging needs and the changing in the target of vulnerable people asking for a job. Moreover, it is quite obvious that the huge amounts of subsidies supplied by the Local Agency of employment increases the financial dependency of WISCs by public funding and it is not a replicable solution in all of the regions and provinces due to the cut of public budgets. Finally, Intervento 18 put a lot of emphasis on the need by WISCs to promote the employment of trained disadvantaged workers on the open labor market; this policy is not totally positive, since trained workers can be for WISCs a resource for increasing their productivity level and therefore their entrepreneurial ability.
6. Comparisons with other experiences (alternatives or complementary - in same territory or elsewhere)
Recent investigations have been carried out on other provinces in order to compare the final outcomes of Intervento 18 with other local policies and with the absence of special local supports to WISCs. Results are very interesting.
Where the local administration do not provide for any additive benefit or contribution to WISCs, while the province is quite reach in experiencing social cooperatives and it is quite well organized as a movement, the total costs by the public administration decrease obviously a lot. As a consequence, the net benefit for the public administration by the integration of vulnerable people in WISCs is quite high.
Nonetheless, curiously, the amount achieve about 6,300 Euros per year per person, which is not so over the amount registered in the Trento province. This means that Intervento 18 is not only a cost, but ensures the increase of productivity, of innovation and of efficient management by local WISCs, so that also benefits produced for the public administration increase, with a good final saving in public resources. It is however true that, when no extra-subsidy is supplied by the local administrations to WISCs, these letter tend to search more resources on the private market and therefore they increase further their entrepreneurial character.
However, and most interestingly, some provinces also supply extra-subsidies to local WISCs but these subsidies are included in welfare policies and are supplied by the Department of family and social policies. In this case, WISCs are intended by the local regulation as organizations providing social services and they are intended to be supported by public funds for this reasons.
The dependency of WISCs by public funding increases at top levels: the entrepreneurial character of WISCs reduces, integration projects only satisfy the needs of social services and become the substitute of social centres, people is less productive. As a consequence, the costs-benefits analysis shows an incredible inefficiency of the system implemented: WISCs are a net cost (about 10thousands Euros per year per worker in the province analysed) for the public administration.
As a conclusion, if not supporting WISCs with special projects can be efficient in terms of public savings and of increase in the entrepreneurial character of WISCs but it also can be risky due to the increasing competition and uncertainty of revenues by WISCs, supporting these social cooperatives with welfare policies and related subsidies can become totally inefficient, and therefore the provision of subsidies in specific active labor market policies can be the efficient or best practice.
7. Overall assessment and transferability
We can claim that Intervento 18 promoted by the Local Agency of Employment in the province of Trento represents a good practice, but its transferability to other countries depends mainly on the context, that is: on the development of social enterprises and of the regulation of this sector; on the power of local government and municipalities to contract directly with social enterprises and to support their development; on the availability of funding to finance partially the activity of social enterprises; on the presence of also umbrella organizations or methods of evaluation that allows reducing the opportunism of social enterprises when using subsidies in order to support their activity.
Specifically, some of the partner countries are at the first step in the evolution of the social enterprises movement and therefore the absence of a specific law, of recognised subsidiarity by public administration to social enterprises and of the perception of the importance of these private actors prevent the development of advanced policies. Nonetheless, it should be considered that Intervento 18 acts as a labor market policy and therefore the social enterprise movement should promote itself as a possible actor for policies of work integration, by skipping the lack in other specific legal provisions.
Second, also where municipalities and local government have not sufficient power, national government should adopt in their labor market and social policies specific planning in favour of WISEs. Although the centralization of these policies could increase bureaucracy and rigidity, the government should build special public bodies or commissions to realize special policies in favour of WISEs and social enterprises in general, and existing partnership between public representatives and social enterprises could work in this direction.
Third, in order to reproduce the policy in other countries, the availment of ESF could be rethought: part of ESF could flow in projects of partnership among public bodies and WISEs on the example of the Trento province. But social enterprises must also be boosted to develop autonomy and entrepreneurship in order to diversify their financing sources and revenues.
Finally, social enterprises -themselves or stimulated by governments and European policies- should cooperate for an enlarged co-planning of their activity and therefore should have second-level or umbrella organizations promoting training, coordinating the social enterprises in approaching the public founds and subsidies, and monitoring the social enterprises activity.
When these requirements are at least partially achieved, the practice (i.e. the public-private partnership) could be transferred to the other country by considering that it provides:

  • elements for supporting the sustainability of work integration projects: while WISCs which receive subsidies can better support economically their activity also in the long-run, the public administration have a positive net return from its economic support to WISCs; the practice must therefore be intended as efficient, and this is really important especially during crisis periods;
  • elements for claiming that subsidies can be a lever of innovation and entrepreneurial behaviours; WISCs are partially financed by Intervento 18 for their innovative programs and are monitored by the Local Agency of Employment; furthermore, Intervento 18 supports training of ordinary workers and the presence of specific professional figures (as tutors and social responsible) so that groups of professionals manage the organization;
  • elements for developing a constructive and enlarged partnership among WISCs, public bodies and public services, business organizations on the open labor market;
  • it has positive consequences on the employability of disadvantaged people on the open labor market and on their wellbeing and happiness.

Chiaf E. (2009), Le imprese sociali di inserimento lavorativo e la creazione di valore: modelli di valutazione, tesi di dottorato, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano.
Depedri S. (2012) L’inclusione efficiente. L’esperienza delle cooperative sociali di inserimento lavorativo, FrancoAngeli
Marocchi G. (1999), Integrazione lavorativa, impresa sociale, sviluppo locale, Franco Angeli
Zaniboni S., F. Fraccaroli, P. Villotti, M. Corbière, "Working plans of people with mental disorders employed in Italian Social Enterprises" in Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, v. 35, n. 1 (2011), p. 55-58.
Weblinks and bibliography
For news on the Local Agency of Employment and its policies:
For deepening the knowledge of the situation of WISCs and of their umbrella organization in the Trento province:
For some examples of local social cooperatives supported by Intervento 18:
Social Accounting of a WISC of the Trento province: