Vocational Training

Rafael Puyol. Vicepresident. IE Foundation

4 December 2009

Once again the need for a new education model is a burning issue, and once again the role that vocational training should play is at the center of the debate.

Now that the Ministry for Education has relaunched the idea of a new education model, the eternally pending subject of vocational training is once again on the table. Vocational training has never enjoyed social prestige or offered sufficient quality to be a competitive option in education. The Spanish General Education Act of 1970, which made it mandatory for students without basic school qualifications to continue their education in the form of vocational training, partly explains why it is held in such low esteem.

Things seem to be changing, however. Demand for vocational training is on the up, its image is improving, the number of programs is growing, and it is bringing more employment possibilities. Seven out of every ten students on professional training programs start work within six months of completing their studies, often with reasonable pay that is higher than that earned by many university graduates. You will remember the case of the university vice-chancellor who needed a plumber. He called one, who came and repaired the problem in five minutes and charged him €200. The vice-chancellor said to him: "Good grief! I don´t earn that much and I´m the vice-chancellor of a university!" To which the plumber replied "Neither did I when I was a vice-chancellor".

Not that I expect to see a mass migration of vice-chancellors to plumbing, you understand, but I am sure they would earn more and enjoy greater prestige. Although obviously not true, the story shows that this and other forms of professional training are indeed worthy options with a future. The fact that 12% of graduates and students who complete university diplomas go on to study a professional module to find work serves to illustrate the usefulness of this form of training.

Consequently, we should all be committed to vocational training because, as my friend and prize-winning master joiner Carlos says, it can also play a role in changing the production model that is currently under review.

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