The Training of Foreign Agricultural Workers in the Territory of Siena

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Reference framework

With the Agreement signed on October 26th 2016 by the Regional Manager of INAIL Tuscany Dott. Giovanni Asaro and the Rector of the Foreigners University of Siena Prof. Pietro Cataldi, the bases for developing projects in order to activate a strong interaction were lain for their respective areas; both were asked to operate with the shared goal of realizing a net of knowledge which will contribute to the overall improvement of workers' health and safety conditions, and also to the expansion of the role of the University in the cultural and professional preparation of the future generations of workers, entrepreneurs and executives.

The Italian law, in fact, assigns to INAIL the task of conducting specialized training in the field of health and safety in the workplace and, for this reason, promotes the development of training and refresher projects on specific subjects in collaboration with the institutional actors for safety (ASL-National Health Service).

After all, the stable connection between institutions, schools, universities and world of work is an essential basis to guide students in the most requested professional careers and to develop the technical knowledge and roles required by the continuous evolution of the labor market.

Sticking to specific needs in a concrete way is the main purpose of social institutions and of any authority in charge of the development of the common good.

For this reason, when studying the initiatives for Prevention and Occupational Health, it is necessary to start from the examination of the real world, by disposing of reliable and up-to-date cognitive bases. The idea of promoting an Agreement in order to realize a language-training project comes from the statistical study of the accidents data in the agricultural field in the Province of Siena in the 2011-2015 period. In this five-year period, 2,691 accidents at work occurred. Part of these happened to foreign workers: 806 (approximately 29.95% of the total). 267 involved workers with a European Union citizenship and 539 involved workers from outside the EU. Many immigrants are working in the agricultural sector in the Province of Siena. They mainly belong to the following nationalities: Albanian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, North African (Maghreb). Statistical data of the examined period show that :

1) In the territory of the Province of Siena agriculture is a remarkable economic asset, especially thanks to the high quality of the product (for example wine and olive-oil production) and the number of firms employing foreign labor is wide.

2) As pointed out above, the statistical data show that the number of foreign workers who suffer accidents is relevant; this may also be determined by the lack of a good knowledge of the Italian language. There is evidence, in fact, that in order to protect themselves from risk- conditions, people need to have suitable cognitive elements and be fully aware of dangerous situations, so that they are able to understand when and how to wear protective equipment, use tools and machinery correctly, operate according to organizational procedures, and manage emergency situations with competence and in a correct way.

In order to be "aware", a worker needs to have basic linguistic elements, to recognize visual signals, alerts, and posters; the language of the host country thus represents the best form to acquire basic safety notions. Furthermore, knowledge of the Italian language is a tool needed to assert their own personality and to facilitate integration. Clearly, the immigrant's link with his or her original culture constitutes an important factor of protection of their own identity; at the same time, the knowledge of the language of the country where he or she works is the starting point to proactively develop technical-vocational skills.

The educational needs In the elaboration of the project these factors were taken into account: The training courses for foreign workers are not always effective, because the different level in language skills of the participants often does not allow them to attend the lessons with benefit. In general the level of knowledge of the Italian language is not directly related to the years of stay in Italy but is also associated with the worker's level of integration and educational path. For this reason, we believe it is important to respond to these specific needs with a proposal for a more complete path, which will aim for the acquisition of an appropriate knowledge of the Italian language and in particular of the technical language of agricultural work: the correct understanding of the Italian language, indeed, is of vital importance for immigrant workers as risks are often not properly perceived.

Objectives The project named COLTICI has, therefore, the purpose of promoting the learning of the Italian language in order to ensure the exercise of the rights and obligations of foreigners who demonstrate the desire to work in Italy, having in mind that the basic knowledge of the language, history and institutions of the host society is essential for integration purposes.

The project has, thus, two goals: 1) Verifying linguistic competences; these will recognized by the release, after passing the final examination, of the certificate at A2 level of Italian language which gives evidence of the level of knowledge of the language and therefore favors the reduction of the risks connected to injuries linked to a lack of understanding of the organization of the workplace in agricultural companies.

2) The validity of the certification for the purposes of the awareness of the worker's own situation.

Project Phases Once the organization COLDIRETTI has identified available firms and workers, the project will be structured in three steps :

a) The workers will be individually met by experts of the Foreigners University of Siena, together with a skilled member from COLDIRETTI, to understand their level of linguistic competence in Italian, the motivations (expectations and kind of job that they are able / want to develop in Italy) and their availability for the course. b) Organization of the 60-hour course (51 hours of classroom lessons). All hours must be attended, the schedule must therefore take into account the different necessities of the companies and workers. c) Final examination that will demonstrate the possession of a basic lexical repertory that will allow the workers to manage communications from a predictable content, including those of professional character such as organizational instructions, reprimands and calls, alarms, situations of prohibition and danger warnings.


The teacher is an expert with specific training in the sector of teaching the Italian language to foreigners; one or more trainees of the University and a COLDIRETTI tutor will also contribute.

Checks Level 1 – Passing the exam.

Level 2 – INAIL will check and acknowledge the actual acquisition of the safety contribution of the workers that have attended the course and will make a statistical verification on the number of accidents which occurred to those same workers in the three years following the date of the exam of language level A2. Conclusions The project was born from the meeting of a public institution, an employer's association and a university. Its purpose is to promote the safety of foreign workers, favoring a stable, efficient and secure economic system; it is set in a context that wants to favor integration policies in accordance with the law. We hope that this first experimental project will have positive effects and can be extended to other economic sectors.