Former Secretary-General for Universities. Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports
Opportunity for university students
It is precisely during times of change and transformation when the value of higher education plays a more important role in society. And undoubtedly, as well as being an engine to advance knowledge, universities must also promote the social and economic development. Obviously this applies to Spain, so the government should support all education initiatives that foster closer links between the university environment and the business world.
This is the objective of the initiatives developed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, such as the work placement programs, ARGO GLOBAL and FARO GLOBAL, which have generated some very promising results in terms of the employability of our students. FARO GLOBAL is directed to students and ARGO GLOBAL to Bachelor and Master graduates. The grants allow university and graduate students to undertake trainee programs in Europe, United States, Canada and Asia. The program pretends to help them to have a first labor abroad experience, in either multinational company or institution and, at the end of the day, to improve in a second language. The results of this program are outstanding. 96% of the FARO beneficiaries found a job within their first year after graduation. Furthermore, 34% of them have already a job even before graduating1. During the next 3 years the ARGO grants are going to receive a total funding of 4.500.000 €.
In order to foster the entrepreneurship and self-employment in our graduates, this Ministry in cooperation with the Ministry for Industry, Energy and Tourism, has developed in the last 2 years a Program with courses on initiation to entrepreneurship. The courses are completely supported by the Program, so they are free both for students and universities. Almost 900 Master, Doctorate and last-year Bachelors students have attended to these courses in 47 Spanish universities. The goal of the course is to motivate entrepreneurship spirit among the university students, to educate them in company creation and stimulate the creation of new ones. In short, our aim was to ensure that the participants had a global perspective of business, to teach them how to design a business plan, why such a plan is necessary, who it should be aimed at, what information to include, and where to find this information. This program will continue on 2015, because it is a priority for our society to change the productive model through education and for the first time, in 2014, seminars to train university professors on this topic have also been included, so entrepreneurship becomes a transversal skill.
As well as encouraging this entrepreneurial spirit among our students, we should also promote employability as a determining value of our university degrees. Therefore, one of the new projects being developed by the General Secretariat for Universities is to complete the Ministry's Integrated System of University Information (SIIU) with data related to the labor market insertion of university graduates. The first report has already been published and on 20152, and it analyses the employment results 1, 2, 3 and 4 years after graduation. The first complete analysis determine the work trajectory of the graduates from the 2009-10 academic course from all Spanish universities, bith public and private. This material is already available at the web page of the Ministry. This information may play a decisive role in the student's choice for a degree or University and will also be useful for Spanish companies and non-academic institutions: which type of graduates do our companies need? Which training should they receive? Which competences will they be able to develop in their subsequent jobs? It is necessary for the universities, companies and non-academic institutions to be linked and move forward together.
This report gives rise to interesting conclusions, such as the reduction in the risk of unemployment among young university graduates, the variation in the percentages of graduates affiliated to the Social Security System depending on the area of their studies, the low rates of self-employment and entrepreneurship of Spanish bachelor graduates or the improvement, in economic terms, that the experience of university graduates contributes to the labor market.
With respect to the mobility of university graduates, it unravels that three out of every four graduates work in the same autonomous region in which they studied. However, it has been observed that the economic crisis in Spain has generated a very slight increase in mobility: in five years, the percentage of university graduates affiliated to the social security system who remain in the region in which they graduated has fallen from 79.7% to 75.9%. In the next few years it is expected that the internal mobility of graduates will continue to increase, which is a common aspect to other countries.
Finally, I would like to highlight the impetus that the Erasmus mobility program represents for the Spanish students employment prospects. European Commission has published the first Erasmus Impact Study 3. They have calculated the impact of these ERASMUS stays on improving the student's skills, on employability and labor mobility and on the internationalization of the Higher Education Institutions. They have reported that more than 85% of the ERASMUS students increase their employability and improve their skills. Besides, also important is the impact of the ERASMUS trainees in the first employment of the students. Spain, together with Germany and France, is among the three countries that have more students participating in the Erasmus program throughout its twenty-six years of history, and in recent years, Spain has mobilized the highest number of students.
The new Erasmus + program presented by the European Commission has introduced significant improvements that Spanish universities should take advantage of. It also provides better opportunities for our university students. However, the criteria for the distribution of the mobility's' funding per student have been changed, thus reducing the number of ERASMUS students. As the Government's priority is to maintain the number of Spanish students participating in Erasmus +, boosting the excellence of the program, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports has launched last year the ERASMUS.es Program, assigning 37 millions of euros, almost the same quantity as the European Commission, to support Erasmus stays for students that award a B2 or equivalent level in language skills and go to the best universities in their area of knowledge or go for a trainee. The ERASMUS.es grants are higher than the ones given with European Commission founds to encourage the improvement in language skills and the academic quality of the stay. Moreover, the funds are distributed in a way that stimulates the mobility of Health, Science and Technological students.