Piazza dei Mestieri

Method & Numbers

A place to learn a craft

Piazza dei Mestieri hosts about 550 students aged 14 to 18 in its historic headquarters in Turin. A range of three or four-year vocational training paths are offered, resulting in a qualification or professional degree. In many cases, particularly in cases of repeated scholastic failure, paths giving an annual attendance certificate help students to build in confidence and competence, giving them effective opportunities in the world of work.
In addition, we also have a new site in Catania, Sicily, opened in 2014, hosting about 400 students.

The main vocational sectors are:

  • Restaurants and catering (e.g. chef, cook, maître, bartender, baker and pastry chef)
  • Beauty and Well-being (hairstylist and aesthetician)
  • Information technology (graphics, multimedia, web)
  • Heating and plumbing (Catania site only)

The effectiveness of the various vocational paths offered at the Turin site over the past ten years is attested to by the 95% of students who have successfully completed their training courses. The dropout rate is low in comparison with state-run technical or professional schools. This fact is even more significant when considering that many of our students have disappointing scholastic backgrounds.
In the past ten years around 80% of our students have either got a job, continued training through internships, or attained the equivalent of a high school diploma.
A dual-system educational model is systematically adopted which implies a close cooperation with the commercial world, involving relevant companies to help define the training content.
All the educational and cultural activities of the Piazza are directed towards our single most important challenge: to have all our students find a job.
This is the really innovative aspect of the Piazza dei Mestieri experience: besides studying, students gain real work experience. This is conducted via a cooperative company comprising several business units in the fields of food production and sales, in services (e.g. printing, hairstyling) and in the market for gourmet chocolate, award-winning craft beers, as well as critically-acclaimed restaurants and pubs open to the public. Our students work one-on-one with experienced, professional craftspeople in established businesses, from chefs to confectioners, print-and-copy centres to hair-stylists.
These people have understood the human and professional potential of our one-of-a-kind school and taken up the challenge.
In 2013 we produced 5.000 kg of chocolate and 70.000 litres of beer. The restaurant served 17.000 people and the pub more than 60.000 customers. The canteen distributed around 24.000 meals.
By bringing up again the relevance of crafts and the educational value of work, Piazza has developed a working model of continuous alternation between school and work activities. Through our experience, this model transform theoretical knowledge into practical capacity; moreover, the theoretical learning support enables students to apply the practical abilities they have acquired in different situations.
This dual-system represents a significant departure from the traditional approach, where teaching comes first and drives learning. Instead, our model implies on-the-job training followed by wrapping-up and evaluation of the work done; in this way, competences are secured and stabilized.
This Italian Dual System can thus be defined as an innovative educational methodology that, at Piazza dei Mestieri, fully develops the cognitive capacities of young people and gives rise to a greater awareness of their capacities.
Finally, Piazza dei Mestieri's approach facilitates competence certification, since it allows us to evaluate their actual level of ability.
The validation of all such certification is simplified by daily dialogues between the student's teacher at the Piazza and their supervisors in the workplace. This allows us, where necessary, to redefine a student's path, based on the skills they successfully acquire and which they don't, according to the feedback from their work placements and evaluation by our teachers.

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