The university system and partnerships with the business world has created an excellent level of human capital. This has led to the creation of scores of start-ups with new ideas, patents and creativity. The number of patents registered in Sicily is amongst the highest in all the regions in Italy. The Regione Siciliana has created, with the help of three million euros from the Regional Operational Programme ("POR" scheme), Nilo Sicilia – a network of the four Sicilian Universities which aims to connect the academic world with the production sector.
In the Sicilian POR scheme using European Social Funds 2007-2013, the registered medium- high training courses are organized by the information technology, social work, tourism and non-profit sectors. These courses fall within the Regional Training Scheme and account for 80% of all registered courses.
The European Social Fund for 2007-2013 allocates over a billion euros for improving the flexibility of the work market by supporting the adaptability of the workforce to changing market conditions.
Three objectives have been defined which should help to strengthen a number of driving- force factors and facilitate the transfer of skills. This in turn should stimulate technology transfer and business development, guaranteeing quality and productivity in the work place.
A) develop continuous training systems and support labour force adaptability;
B) promote innovation and productivity through improved organization and work quality;
C) develop policies and services in order to anticipate and manage changes, promote competitiveness and entrepreneurship.
These aims are stated in the following operational aims:
A1) develop regional systems and strategies to facilitate access to training services, favouring the ‘weaker’ worker;
A2) promote continuous individual training, also aimed at helping workers adapt to innovation and the information society;
B1) improve the quality and organization of the work place, also to protect employment rates;
C1) enhance the capacity to adapt to change, innovation and competitiveness of businesses, in particular SMEs.
This focus on consolidating and developing the region’s training schemes aimed mainly at employees of local SMEs, is in line with training policy on a national level.
The Region’s work programme relating to the European Social Fund - POR FSE 2007-2013 – shows public investment funds allocated for professional training of Sicilian employees of over a billion euros. This includes some of the following:
- development of permanent training systems and strategies in businesses; training and services for workers aimed at improving their adaptability to change; promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation (€ 61,717,632);
- definition and awareness-raising of more innovative and production-work organization models (€ 42,824,479);
- modernization and strengthening of labour market institutions (€ 67,805,424);
- implementation of active and preventative measures for the labour market (€ 14,274,826);
- support of autonomous work and setting up of businesses (€ 210,553,687);
- development of human potential in research and innovation, in particular through studies and post-graduate training for research, and through networking between universities, research centres and businesses (€ 116,402,811);
- promotion of partnerships, agreements and initiatives through the creation of a network of main stakeholders (€ 1,049,619).
The number of employed persons (aged 25-64) who in 2005 were involved in some form of training account for 4.6% of the corresponding reference population. This figure confirms the active policy of the Region which was launched in 2000, and is in line with the figures for other regions in the South of Italy. This investment in co-financed training with FSE funds – continuous training – for employees of businesses in the South doubled in the four years between 2000-2004.
In the programme period 2000-2004, 9.6% of the adult workforce had access to permanent training of some description. In the first half of 2006, employment increased by 2.8% - the rise in the same period in 2005 was of 2.2%.