By Dolores Dobón, lecturer on the Master in International Business at EAE Business School
First and foremost, modern society has focused its efforts on promoting university studies as a priority above technical and professional training, without taking any notice of the real needs of the labour market. As a result, there is an imbalance between our young people’s education and the level of knowledge required to perform many job profiles.
For instance, for an administrative position, I have seen companies that hire and select overqualified candidates, with a Bachelor Degree in Finance, Business Administration and Management and advanced studies, which, in many cases, exceed the knowledge required for the job in question.
Young people find themselves forced to accept these jobs, for which they are overqualified, as a stepping stone to a position more in line with their needs and ambitions. They see it as a job for the short term in principle, but it often ends up lasting a lot longer.
The underlying problem originates with the disconnection and lack of coordination between the education system, which is obsolete in many fields, and real jobs. This could be approached in a far more effective way with students during their secondary education, to ensure that their studies are designed to be able to enter professions that are aligned with their talents and which offer real opportunities to access the employment market.
This disconnection between secondary education and the labour market causes a clear sense of disenchantment and lack of motivation, because young people feel out of sync with their goals and cannot see the sense in working so hard to become overqualified.
Having become the most well-equipped generation ever, with Bachelor Degrees, Masters, languages, courses, workshops and so on, they are confronted by a market without any jobs on offer that require their skills, competences and knowledge. They have been trained in line with their studies, but the employment market does not meet their expectations. In many cases, this situation causes frustration for young people, who feel that it is impossible to achieve their professional goals which they have made great efforts to prepare for many years.
The result of this disconnection and overqualification is the brain drain, with our brightest talents moving elsewhere to find suitable work. We prepare people to perform all types of qualified labour and they are forced to move abroad for work. In my case, in 1995, I had to go to the USA with an internship as a Teaching Assistant at the University of Virginia, because this problem was already an issue. It still has not been resolved.
We can still see people of all ages moving abroad in search of a job that matches their professional profile. As I did, they emigrate to be able to work in a field that they enjoy and for which they have studied for many years. I know of many cases like my own, Spaniards working abroad, some of whom never return, because in Spain they would have to take a job that requires a level of knowledge far below their own.
We prepare people just to let them go. What is the challenge we face? How can we improve the situation? What is the solution to this problem that many of us have experienced?
We need to provide young people with effective guidance of their prospects in relation to the labour market, jobs and companies, highlighting the actual trends that are occurring in the Spanish reality. As such, it is important that we motivate our young people to discover their talents, be entrepreneurial and innovative, and create new opportunities in order to recalibrate the current deep-rooted disconnection.
Every day at EAE, in my conference, courses, workshops and coaching sessions, this is exactly what I am striving to convey so that we can take action to correct a situation in which there is a great deal of room for improvement.