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First NRRP steering committee meeting: press release

7 October 2021

The first steering committee meeting for the National Recovery and Resilience Plan was held this morning at Palazzo Chigi, chaired by President of the Council of Ministers Mario Draghi.
The meeting was attended by Minister of Economy and Finance Daniele Franco, Minister of Labour and Social Policies Andrea Orlando, Minister of Education Patrizio Bianchi, Minister of University and Research Maria Cristina Messa, Minister of Regional Affairs and Autonomous Local Authorities Mariastella Gelmini, Minister for Southern Italy and Territorial Cohesion Mara Carfagna, Minister for Equal Opportunities and Family Elena Bonetti and Minister for Youth Policies Fabiana Dadone, as well as Vice-Minister of Economic Development Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, Undersecretary of State Roberto Garofoli, Undersecretary of State Valentina Vezzali and Coordinator of the NRRP Technical Secretariat Chiara Goretti.

Education

Minister of Education Patrizio Bianchi illustrated the lines of action falling under the responsibility of his Ministry. These lines of action fully comply with the objectives agreed at EU level.

Reforms

There are six reforms, all of which are to be implemented by the end of 2022 and are extremely important for the country’s education system.

The main one regards vocational-technical institutes and aims to bridge the gap between Italy and its European partners. This reform is closely linked to the strengthening of innovation capacity, as provided for in the National Industry 4.0 Plan. 

Other fundamental reforms refer to guidance, supporting students to choose suitable educational paths to enter the world of work, as well as to teacher recruitment and the reorganisation of the school system.

Investments

With reference to investments, the Ministry is in the process of allocating over EUR 17 billion in resources, earmarked for the two main infrastructure areas (physical and digital) and skills enhancement. By the end of this year, the Ministry plans to publish calls for funding applications, mainly addressed to Municipalities, covering a number of focus areas:  

  • EUR 3 billion for new nursery schools, in addition to the EUR 700 million for existing projects and EUR 900 million to support school management activities;
  • EUR 800 million for the construction of new, highly sustainable school buildings, fit to teach the students of the coming decades in an innovative way; 
  • Over 430,000 m2 of new gyms to enhance skills linked to motor activity and sport, as well as increasing the educational offer beyond school time;
  • EUR 400 million to build and renovate canteen facilities, a powerful tool to support full-time schooling and reduce the school dropout rate.

In view of the upcoming definition and publication of the calls for funding applications, discussions will be held with local authorities and stakeholders.  

There will also be calls for funding applications for digital innovation projects (by March 2022), a plan to extend full-time schooling and a plan to reduce regional differences in school dropout rates; although the relative time frames are not as tight, these are nonetheless in an advanced stage of development.  

Universities and Research

Minister of University and Research Maria Cristina Messa illustrated the lines of action falling under the responsibility of her Ministry and the guidelines for investments in research: research projects in the most innovative areas that address the planet’s future challenges, such as environmental risks, future energy scenarios, artificial intelligence and neuroscience, and biodiversity. 

Reforms 

Reforms to be completed by 2021 are all in the process of being approved. These include the reform of PhD courses, to better involve companies and research centres, the introduction of professional qualification degrees, making it easier for graduates to begin exercising the relative professions, the review of degree categories and active orientation for the school-to-university transition.

Investments

EUR 9 billion are earmarked to develop research. The guidelines to issue calls for funding applications are ready and will be published soon. The relative calls will all be published by the end of March 2022 and shall refer to:

  • identifying five ‘national champions’, establishing national leaders in the various areas of research and development. The relative call for applications will be published during the first quarter of 2022;
  • selecting 12 innovation ecosystems, with activities linked to higher education, applied research and innovation in specific areas defined on the basis of local fields of specialisation. The relative call for applications will be published by the end of December 2021 and the assessment phase will be completed by June 2022;
  • partnerships extended to Universities, aimed at financing up to 15 large-scale programmes for cross-cutting basic and applied research, characterised by an interdisciplinary approach. The relative call for applications will be published by the end of March 2022 and the resources will be allocated by the end of June 2022.

Projects will be selected using transparent procedures, which will be completed by the end of June 2022.

Defining a network system will allow for local entities of excellence throughout Italy to be fully involved, including those in the country’s southern regions. This will ensure full compliance with the legal obligation to allocate 40% of resources to the Mezzogiorno.  

The guidelines will also state that four out of ten vacancies will be reserved for female researchers.

Another objective for 2021, which is also in the process of being finalised, is to revise legislation on university accommodation. This is the first step towards reaching the target of over 60,000 additional accommodation places by 2026, especially where there are the greatest shortages.