The effectiveness of the education system in Spain is in question because many young graduates are forced to accept jobs that require lower qualifications than they have; which results in high levels of frustration. “The main problem is that we are generating expectations that are then disappointed”, said the Secretary of State for Education, Vocational Training and Universities, Montserrat Gomendio. In this regard, she was referring to the Labour Integration of University Students Report that provided data on the possibilities of finding employment and on wages based on the university studies taken. Even so, she acknowledged that there are people who have a vocation for certain studies but that it is important to understand the employment implications of the decision given current unemployment levels.

Gomendio explained the findings of the first ‘OECD Skills Strategy’ workshop on Spain, in which seven ministries and all the autonomous communities participated. In late November, there will be another in Cuenca; this time with the participation of educational agents, trade unions, business associations, professionals and experts. Among the main objectives is the need to continue reducing early school failure, improve the skills young people and adults acquire, especially regarding reading and mathematics, increase the academic performance of students and solve the “obvious” misalignment between the needs of the labour market and the education and training provided.

The idea is to integrate all the information provided by the Government and the autonomous communities and other agents in order to define the skills that young people and adults must develop with a view to designing the future economic model that Spain needs and deciding on the necessary investment, tax, educational and employment policies to achieve all this. “It would be a great success if we could agree on the economic and social model for the next ten or 20 years”, stressed Gomendio.

The autonomous communities will share data on good practices developed in each one, as the lack of information on this issue is perhaps one of the shortcomings of the system, said the secretary of state. Later, the information will be assessed to prepare a diagnostic and proposal report by June next year, the implementation of which will depend on the government that comes into office after the next general election.

On good practices, she mentioned that the lowest early school failure and youth unemployment rates existed in the autonomous communities that had the most highly developed vocational training systems. In this context, she said that vocational training is attracting people aged between 25 and 30, many of whom are unemployed construction workers who have families and mortgages, who are returning to the classroom due to their personal responsibilities.