Creating links between professional training and business is the essential duty to be fulfilled by the national education system, promoting the employability of the students.
Employability, the educational system pillar
Getting a job is one of fundamental pillars of the educational system. It is carried out through internship programs aimed at properly training for meeting the labor market demands. The right training and accompaniment program in a company helps students to become future skilled workers, providing practical knowledge, a first professional experience and networking ability.
However, too often the role of the education system as intermediary fails due to the lack of the required means. Bureaucratization and shortage of human and material resources to meet the demands brings the allegedly quid pro quo of internships to a major fail.
The role of enterprises
Companies are primarily interested in being able to recruit talent for training them though internship programs. Training talent should be understood as an investment that will make a difference in the long run. But it also entails some costs for the enterprise in terms of time and money that cannot be neglected. Hiring and insurance costs, and above all bureaucracy, can often be dissuasive.
Unfortunately, internship programs do not serve their purpose in many cases. Fellows often end up assuming minor tasks, with no added value in terms of their learning process. Therefore, within the South European labor market the concept of internship and the figure of the trainee have been mistakenly identified with the stereotype of a young person whose main functions are serving coffee, making photocopies and the like. This has ended up in a perverse effect, devaluating what should be the main bridge from the education system to the labor market.
According to the European Commission’s report “The experience of Traineeships in the EU”, 58% of Spanish trainees do not receive any remuneration for their tasks, and 7 out of 10 have a workload equivalent to that of contract workers. Another trade union study estimates that the official number of scholarship holders in Spain -usually estimated about 70,000- is difficult to measure due to the irregularity of many situations.
An ongoing debate.
This is the reason why some people (trade unions, pressure student groups) perceive professional internships as a source of precariousness of the labor force, giving rise to an unfair competition, especially in some low value-added sectors.
Another issue is the salary that young people in an internship program should get for their work. At U·TRANS we firmly believe that our internships deserve a monetary compensation for their job. Nevertheless, internships schemes must be also a learning period and skills acquisition time in a learning by doing process. Tailored solutions on a case-by-case basis are always required.
U·TRANS valued positively that High Education affairs within the Catalan Government joined the Ministry of Enterprise and Knowledge in order to strengthen the bonds between companies and universities.
A good program of training, adapted to the needs of each student, is the best way to boost career opportunities and promote their employability. It is as well as a good strategy for companies in the war for talent. U·TRANS has collaborated with several education centers to design effective employability programs. Likewise, we have also developed projects of new vocational training linked to the reality of specific territories. On the other hand, we have hosted internship students that have been involved to develop our projects.