SPAIN'S government has increased the minimum wage in line with its pledged scale of rises back in 2018, which aims for it to reach the European Union requirement of 60% of the national average wage by the year 2022....
Spanish working-age adults among the lowest-qualified in Europe, says research
By thinkSPAIN Team Sun, Jun 21, 2015
NEARLY half of Spain's working-age population aged 25 and over has no qualifications beyond compulsory schooling – the equivalent of GCSEs or O-levels in the UK, known as the ESO in the Spanish system – and some do not even have this level, according to a recent survey.
Although those at the end of their working life, aged 65, would have been at school somewhere between the years 1955 and 1966 – during Franco's dictatorship and at a time when many left at a very young age to work – which would account for their lack of post-16 qualifications, the fact that even those who would have been at school between the 1980s and the first decade of the 2000s are unqualified has raised concerns about the country's education system.
The research by the Foundation for Applied Economics Studies (FEDEA) effectively reveals that those who have been on the dole for many months or years have not been studying or training to improve their existing skills or learn a new trade or profession.
Back in 2007 when unemployment levels – although still high – were nowhere near those of today, only 14.6% of people on the dole with no qualifications beyond compulsory schooling took training or further education courses – but this number fell to 13.6% by 2013.
Whilst the average number of adults aged 25 to 65 inclusive in the European Union whose education does not go beyond the equivalent of GCSEs sits at 24%, in Spain this rises to 43.4% - almost double.
Only Portugal, where more than half the adult population has no post-16 training or education – 56.7% - and Malta, with 57.8%, are behind Spain, and taking Europe as a continent, Spain's figures are only better than Portugal, Malta and Turkey, where 67.4% of adults have not studied or trained since school.
Lithuania and the Czech Republic have the lowest number of barely-qualified working-age residents – 6.7% and 6.8% respectively – and in Estonia, Slovakia and Poland, over 90% of adults have at least a sixth-form education or vocational training aimed at school leavers as a minimum.
In Latvia, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Slovenia, Austria, Sweden, Hungary, Croatia, Norway, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, between 80% and 90% of the potential workforce has a minimum education level of sixth form or the equivalent.
Still below the EU average are Denmark, where only 20.4% of adults aged 24 and over have no education or training beyond compulsory schooling; the UK, with 20.8%; the Republic of Ireland, with 21.2%; Cyprus, with 22.4%; France, with 22.6%, and The Netherlands, which equals the EU-28 average of 24%.
Still fewer than 30% of adults with no post-16 education are found in Belgium, Iceland and Romania, and remaining countries with a smaller population of unqualified working-age residents are Greece, Macedonia and Italy – one of only four countries in Europe where over 40% of adults are unqualified.
And the 'unqualified' figures also include those who did not finish school and do not even have the equivalent of GCSEs.
Among those aged between approximately 24 and 32 in Spain, the low level of post-school qualifications is partly to be expected: during the construction boom of the Millennium and most of the first decade of the 21st century, high-school pupils - mainly boys – left as soon as they could legally get away in order to take up jobs on building sites.
Others, of both sexes, left school early with no thoughts of further vocational training or education in the late 1990s and early 2000s to work in the hotel and catering industry, which was booming because of a continual rise in tourism which had never ceased to grow since Spain first opened up as a beach resort destination in the 1960s.
As a result, when the construction industry collapsed and competition for bar and restaurant work became far more fierce, a large chunk of an entire generation was left without a job and not qualified to do anything else.
And those aged roughly over 40, who studied French at school as a second language rather than English, say most positions advertised require at least a basic working knowledge of the latter, meaning they lose out to younger applicants.
Yet only a small number of the construction and hostelry industry generation has attempted to retrain or go back to college to get a higher level of education.
The FEDEA says the situation is unlikely to repeat itself among the millennials, since the lack of employment opportunities means teenagers are more likely to stay on to sixth form and then go into professional training or university, or both, aiming to get as many strings to their bows as they can and delay the inevitable job search.
According to the latest Active Population Survey (EPA), over 86% of adults out of a job have not taken any additional training or education courses since being made redundant, and are not doing so now.
The FEDEA says this has more to do with cost than inertia – with funding for post-16 education and training having been slashed heavily since late 2011, most of those interviewed say they cannot afford to take courses.
Between 2011 and the end of 2014, the budget for subsidised training fell by 34%, which means those who most need to study, retrain or both – those with the lowest education levels and out of work – are the ones who are not doing so.
Working-age residents in Spain who do take courses of study or training are nearly all highly-qualified already, at least to degree level or the professional equivalent, and the majority already have jobs but want to improve their skills within their line of work.
This situation is the same in practically every country in Europe and beyond, says the FEDEA, but it claims the chasm between the two profiles of workers is much wider in Spain than elsewhere in the EU.
“Unlike in other countries, Spain does not have a series of study courses aimed at giving adults basic academic and vocational skills beyond merely offering them the chance to go 'back to school' and take or retake their ESO,” the research claims.
“Also, in most other countries, funding for subsidised education and training goes directly to the student or trainee in the form of cheques or credits, so they can choose their course and centre and have more flexibility, and can also put pressure on their colleges to deliver,” the FEDEA reveals.
“In Spain, this funding goes directly to the training centres.”
This has led to a number of wide-scale fraud cases – an ongoing and well-documented court investigation throughout the southern region o
More Education & Employment content
MAJOR high-street retailers are already advertisings for extra Christmas staff more than a month away from the 'big day' – and, in fact, it's a time of year when around 1.15 million new job contracts are...
CHILDREN, teens and young adults across Spain have been going back to school and college this week, and parents digging deep in their pockets to find the cash for textbooks and notebooks – which pupils are required to...
THE WOMAN who has paid into Spain's State pension pot the longest has finally announced her decision to retire. Dolores Agra Rodríguez, 78, or 'Loli' to friends and family, started work aged 14, meaning she...