A study calls for the creation of 150,000 new places to drive this educational model in Spain

One of the major paradoxes of unemployment in Spain lies in the fact that while millions of young people are still far from obtaining stable jobs, many companies in the industrial sector cannot find qualified personnel. The technological requirements that must be met to maintain their competitiveness – digitalization, cybersecurity…- forces them to hire IT professionals and engineers who need to become accustomed to the new tools and working methods as soon as possible. This is not always easy unless you have combined your studies with job experience.

The best way to adapt the theoretical knowledge acquired to business requirements is by eliminating the gap that exists between the labour market and the world of education. This is one of the goals for which Dual-Training Vocational Studies are proving quite successful in various European countries. However, this is still an unresolved issue in Spain. An OECD report from 2017 ranked Spain as having some of the worst Vocational Training schooling rates among all industrialized countries. As an example, only 12% of students are enrolled in vocational training, less than half of the average (26%) and less than 1% enjoy a dual-training model that combines teaching and work.

Aware of the potential of dual-training, the Circulo de Empresarios (Businessmen Association) and the Spanish Chambers of Commerce recently published a paper titled ‘Young People Excited about their Future,’ in which they asked for a State Pact that would prioritise investment in educational infrastructure and provide greater cooperation between institutional, educational, and corporate agents.

Reference countries

According to the authors of this report, increasing Vocational Training figures to the European level would require 150,000 new places throughout Spain. The ambitious goal of catching up with key countries such as Austria, Netherlands and Switzerland would require 350,000 new students in the medium term.

With the exception of the Basque Country, where the dual-training model is bringing together students and businesses every year, this model does not seem to be prospering in the rest of the country. The excessive fragmentation of the productive fabric, the unawareness of companies of the advantages of this type of contract or the low-prestige of vocational training are the reasons put forward by the chairperson of the Chambers of Commerce, José Luis Bonet.

His counterpart from the Círculo de Empresarios, John de Zulueta, stressed the need for young people to acquire knowledge and skills that will enable them to join the job market as soon as possible. “There should never be a situation today in which jobs are available but cannot be filled due to a lack of training among the unemployed”, he added.

The report recommends updating the educational programmes to meet the current and future needs of the labour market and to involve businesses to a greater extent, strengthen professional guidance during secondary school, improve the image of Vocational Training, and promote the dual-training mode among SMEs.