For the second year in a row, Universidad Europea organized and hosted the Youth & Employment Forum, an event that brings together entrepreneurs, business leaders, and university leaders to address different ways they can all work together to better confront the crisis of high youth unemployment.
Of the more than 5.9 million Spanish citizens that were out of work at the end of March, 14.85% (876,150) are 25 or younger and 50.1% have been out of work for a long time. Since the beginning of the financial crisis, Spain has been the country with the highest unemployment rate and the country continues to post eye-popping figures—6 out of 10 young people are out of work. The unemployed tend to be those with less education.
The forum started with the presentation of two international studies that are focused on this issue: OIE Report on the Young and the Labor Market – The path from the Classroom to the Labor Market from Adecco and Education to Employment: Getting Europe’s Young Into Work, which was developed by McKinsey & Company.
According to the later report, the fundamental key to resolving the problem, not just in Spain, but throughout Europe, is to better align the education and development programs with the needs of employers because many employers do not believe that the young have the required skills. Enrique García, a partner at McKinsey, believes that educational plans and policies must embrace competency based training. He also believes that the role of professional development in preparing youths for the workforce is vital, though Spain is slowed down by "social stigmas."
Adecco’s report, OIE Report on the Young and the Labor Market – the path from the classroom to the labor market comes to the same conclusion. As explained by Margarita Álvarez, Adecco’s director of communication and marketing, there are three challenges to finding work: managing the transition from the university to the labor market and the search for work in a landscape dominated by young people who don’t understand the labor market; a great gulf between what students have learned and what employers need; and the disadvantages that universities are facing in general.
According to Álvarez, private universities have understood and have adapted better to the needs of the labor market than public universities. Companies require specific knowledge, language skills, technology aptitude, practical hands-on experience and the ability to work in teams, negotiate, lead, and speak in public.
Education and business experts discussed the importance of education in the challenge of youth employment and the role to be played by employers in creating new jobs through two different working panels.
The education session included Javier Caparrós, general director of Trabajando.com; Fernando Jáuregui, editor of Diariocritico.com; Rocío Albert, general director of universities in the community of Madrid; and Águeda Benito, rector of Universidad Europea. The session was moderated by Juan Fornieles, adjunct director of El Mundo. All the participants agreed on the need to deliver high quality programs and to reduce student attrition. They also recognized that the labor market in Spain has changed and today favors dynamism and flexibility, requiring a break with the protectionist and rigid mentality that currently predominates.
The employer session included Fernando Ruiz, president of Deloitte; Begoña Celis, director of human resources of Indra; Antonio Garamendi, president of the Energy Commission; Laura Mendiguren, director of human resources of BT Global Services; and José Ramos, dean of the School of Social Sciences at Universidad Europea. The session was moderated by Jorge Rivera, director of Cinco Días. The professionals defended the quality of Spain’s universities and the importance of professional development and technical programs. They focused on the need to address student attrition and prepare students to become lifelong learners. Collaboration between universities and employers is key to reducing the gap between what students learn and what they need to know.
Ana Isabel Mariño, counselor of employment, tourism and culture for the community of Madrid, also attended and highlighted the important role that education plays in employment and the need to reduce the rigidity of current labor laws. James Costos, the U.S. ambassador to Spain and Andorra was in attendance as well, and focused on the enormous potential of work exchange between the U.S. and Europe and stressed the need for better government collaboration in creating new jobs.
This article has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.