In recent years, beside the traditional passive labour market policies, a broad range of measures and actions related to active labour market policies have gained increasing importance. On the one hand, this evolution opens up interesting perspectives in terms of processes of empowerment of citizens. On the other, it also raises important issues about the effectiveness of employment services. Indeed, the shift of the axis of the policies from the macro dimension of huge public interventions to the micro dimension of specifically population targeted actions represents a challenge both for employment services and, to some extent, also for policy evaluation. The latter, in particular profiting from a critical use of the conceptual tools developed among the realist perspective, can empirically test the validity of the activation rhetoric. In order to offer some thoughts in this direction, this paper presents the results of the evaluation of an active labour market programme, which has been operating in recent years in a particularly low inclusive labour market area: Southern Italy. The assessment focuses on the processes produced by the programme, the mechanisms characterizing its implementation, their interaction with the local contexts and the unexpected results generated by the actions carried out. It aims at providing a useful analytical framework to identify advantages and weaknesses of active labour market policies.
Keywords: Active labour market policies, realistic approach, internships, employment services, university placement, demand supply matching