The thriving alternative for university entrance and employment

Many things have changed in Spain in recent years in the teaching of Vocational Training (FP).

The thriving alternative for university entrance and employment

Many things have changed in Spain in recent years in the teaching of Vocational Training (FP). The recent new law confirms a global transformation of the system and it seems that society and companies have finally understood the need to have qualified personnel specialized in different professional sectors to respond to the current demand for employment. Vocational training is no longer a "second-class" option compared to university studies, and is consolidating itself as a gateway to quality employment for young people, and not so young. "The new Organic Law on Vocational Training represents a radical change with respect to the previous model, which will have immediate effects on the professional opportunities of young people," says Clara Sanz, general secretary for Vocational Training.

«In the face of youth unemployment, companies in all sectors ask us for technicians and higher technicians for professional training for specialized positions for which they currently do not find enough professionals. Turning vocational training into a successful option, of enormous quality, up-to-date and closely linked to the reality of employment is one of the greatest challenges we have as a country”, Sanz points out. Young people will find cutting-edge training with great employability, which will give them access to the labor market and to continue in the educational system, if that is what they want.

Another novelty provided by the standard is the dual nature of this training, since students will necessarily go through the company to obtain their degree. "There will be more training time in the company, more quality and a greater involvement of the company in the training process, from the beginning," he clarifies.

He believes that the image of VET in Spain is becoming assimilated to that of other European countries and has already become a successful option. In the current course, the million students have been exceeded for the first time in our country. «We are already facing a modern Vocational Training, attractive for students, with a training very adjusted to the transformations that affect the economy, and constantly updated, with new titles linked to emerging sectors and with a very high employability», he highlights. It should be remembered that in 2021 the bilingual offer in FP began with 720 groups created so far and as the general secretary of FP advances, "it is expected to reach 10% of the total offer, an initiative that represents a significant leap for the training of students not only in foreign languages, but also in opening doors to participate in stays in companies abroad.

The increase in demand for these studies has had as a response the creation of a greater number of public places as well as a greater offer from private centers. The European Center for Professional Studies (CEEP) has been offering this type of cycle for almost thirty years, very focused on the health sector. Beatriz Martínez de la Riva Vivanco, director of HR and young talent at CEEP, highlights the change that her students have felt. “We have a variety of ages from 16 to 54 years old who use FP as an employment tool, which is what the new law is aiming for,” she points out. “Many 50-year-olds arrive who have lost their jobs and there are even students who continue at university, but do the cycle to advance contact with their real functional environment before finishing their degree,” she specifies.

Martínez de la Riva believes that the new regulations can help remedy the lack of continuous training for workers that exists in the Spanish labor market. "It is intended that during your working life, in a flexible way, you will be trained in a professional itinerary that allows you to advance but that you also have a capacity to adapt in digitization, ecological transition or jobs that we are unaware of," he highlights. From CEEP they underline that "excellence in the centers is fundamental" in the growth of FP, and points out that it is key to define what the labor market needs and "provide a solution two years from now".

In addition to being booming, this type of study is also a real way to enter the university. Those who have a higher FP degree can access directly, with the average grade obtained in that degree, without having to do the EvAU, although they can do the voluntary part to raise their grade. In parallel, new proposals are emerging that strengthen the ties between VET and the University. An example is the Higher Polytechnic School of Mondragon Unibertsitatea which, when it created the Mechatronics Engineering degree in 2017, reserved 50% of its places for VET students. “In this university we have always encouraged FP students to come, to make this transfer, but historically very few did it,” acknowledges Nekane Errasti, engineering coordinator at this school. Mondragon also has a FP training center, so they have the quarry at home, although to the degree "it can be accessed from any center." They have chosen to give this proposal a dual character so that their students, from the beginning, «combine studies and work. Many already come from the Dual cycle and in the design of the degree we took it into account. We wanted to add value to the training they already had”, highlights the coordinator.

In addition, students who access through Superior Vocational Training, have a bag of 60 credits that are equivalent to a degree course. That is, they graduate in three years, instead of the usual four. All this commitment translates into a significant increase in university students from VET, not only in the Mechatronics degree, but throughout the school. “There has been a pull effect in the rest of the degrees. Of the 480 new students that we have, 83 come from vocational training cycles”, highlights Errasti. They are very satisfied with the results and they highlight their “motivation, they have known the training cycle and they know what they can aspire to. It is a personal commitment, they want something more, and their maturity is also noticeable », he points out.