Young and experienced. It is often the case that the requirements for obtaining a job become a paradox: Thousands of young university graduates are denied jobs because they do not have any professional experience in their field of study. Consequently, universities are increasingly seeking the support of businesses to help students with training programmes designed to improve their chances of employment. This is known as dual training, an educational model that combines classroom work and paid work in a company; a system that has been in use for some years in the field of vocational studies with a view to combating youth unemployment.
Cases such as that of the University of Burgos, which, in 2014, entered into a partnership with the company Benteler to train a group of students at their facilities, or the University of Mondragón, where companies have been helping to design degree programmes, are gradually being replicated by other academic centres that are seeking companies and organisations to provide guidance regarding employment and offer graduates a more specialised level of training.
One of the priorities of the Basque Country University is to improve the employability of its graduates, according to Nekane Balluerka, dean of the UPV/EHU, at the beginning of the course. Therefore, one of the goals is to promote work experience arrangements in companies for all the study programmes. However, the faculty’s forward-looking commitment is in favour of dual training, a system already applied to one degree at the University; at the Institute of Machine Tools at Elgoibar. In addition, another two have been launched this year: Automotive Engineering in Vitoria, and Business Administration and Management at the Gipuzkoa campus. These studies are increasingly gaining acceptance, and the demand for them is exceeding the supply (200 young people applied in Elgoibar this year for 40 vacancies).
The goal of the UPV/EHU is to put in place new dual arrangements for degrees and master’s degrees, and not only in the field of engineering or business studies, but also in the Humanities and Teaching degrees, and to attract more students to this initiative. This system is also being sought by Basque companies, as they have realised that it can cater for their demand for professionals with a greater level of specialisation. In this sense, Cebek (the Employers’ Association of Bizkaia) and the UPV/EHU will be signing an agreement to promote dual training at the Sarriko School of Engineering and at the School of Economics and Business. In a recent interview, the secretary general of Cebek, Fran Aspiazu, stressed that the purpose of the agreement was to enable the university to be aware of companies’ actual requirements so that they can design their educational programmes accordingly. From their point of view, it is important that in the coming years “the new generations can be trained in the skills that businesses will be needing”.
This agreement marks an important step forward, not only in the university-business alliance; it is also a milestone in the struggle against youth unemployment.