If information is considered the main economic asset, common sense or curiosity will ask where that information comes from. Until infused science is invented, the answer will be “from education”, the source of all knowledge. Machines may already have the autonomy to generate it, but its origin lies in a trained, informed and motivated human brain. Although perhaps we should place this last term at the beginning.
How much is that knowledge worth? The World Bank estimates that two-thirds of global wealth is due to human capital, understood as the value of skills, experience and work effort. Although it seems like a massive percentage, it could be much higher if that properly educated capital were to cover the enormous, and growing, demand for technology professionals.
That talent deficit specialized in robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, blockchain or advanced manufacturing, among many other disciplines, costs the old continent 2% of its GDP, more than 300,000 million euros not received each year, according to Gartner. It would be fair to also consider other factors, such as the fact that this deficit becomes entrenched precisely when European reindustrialization is not considered as an option, but as a historical duty.
mother of all industries
Formation would thus be the germinal factory. The factory that produces professionals for all the others. And that is not enough.
If you acquire these precise skills, your employability will be practically immediate
Àngel Tarriño, coordinator of the Vocational Training Observatory of the BCN Vocational Training Foundation
If we take Barcelona as a model, some studies confirm that between 2017 and 2019 the supply of technology professionals grew by a remarkable 23%. But the demand runs even more. Pere Navarro, State delegate at the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona (CZFB), explains it: “Technology is evolving at such an unprecedented rate, accelerated by the pandemic, that it overwhelms the capacity of training centers to update themselves.” Data from Digital Talent Overview 2022: the demand grew by 40% the previous year while the offer stretched by 11%.
The solution, or at least the palliative, would be to hyperconnect these two poles. “A more agile and flexible training depends on direct communication with the productive fabric to detect their needs. If you acquire these precise skills, your employability will be practically immediate”, points out Àngel Tarriño, coordinator of the Vocational Training Observatory of the BCN Vocational Training Foundation.
The manager of that same Foundation, Neus Pons, points to another connection tool: “The training work of local administrations and entities due to their direct link with the territory”. This public-private network has been decisive in increasing supply, and the results of which sometimes reveal shortcomings: for example, among those enrolled in ICT cycles in the network of centers in the Metropolitan Area, only 9% are women. A contradiction added to that of unemployment while that great vein of quality work continues to be underexploited.
He does not come to take work
“Technology is not going to take anyone’s job away,” says Blanca Sorigué, general director of the CZFB, “but it changes the needs of companies and it is essential that workers are trained and update their knowledge in order to have opportunities.”
You have to illuminate the reasons for the gap to see the solutions. For Juan Jose Juarez, senior project manager of the Bertelsmann Foundation, many educational centers do not talk about the economy or offer something as sensible as data on the employability of careers and FP, the “exits” of a lifetime, or the projection of the market, so that young people tend to choose profession “by the subjects they like the most or purely academic criteria”. The professional world should get involved in this early orientation, without waiting for the exit of faculties or secondary schools to sign up.
Technology does not come to take away work from anyone, but it changes the needs of companies and it is essential that workers are trained
Blanca Sorigué, general director of the CZFB
Juárez does not put band-aids: “The educational-labour system works without quality information on present and future employment. That is why we do not function as an intelligent and far-sighted society, but based on headlines and unfounded decisions”. “It makes no sense —he continues— that companies do not participate in an articulated manner in the offer that prepares you to be a professional, that they remain in a merely advisory role. This does not work”.
Choice with practicality
Manel Jiménez, vice-rector for Educational Transformation, Culture and Communication at Pompeu Fabra University, abounds in this idea. On the one hand, if there are massive careers with little job prospects, it means that the opportunities of technology companies are wasted. The choice should respond to the “deliberate analysis of the student’s abilities, their real interests and their connection with professional dedication”.
Beware, it is a problem with so many variables that there are no impeccable solutions. Better oriented systems, like the German one, suffer from a certain rigidity, Jiménez thinks, although it is a preferable rigidity. The vice-chancellor proposes “intensive and personalized services of academic and work guidance at relatively early ages”, in addition to efficiency measures such as analyzing the curricula with that work inspiration but without falling into utilitarianism, social and human training also counts; competency-based training, aligned with the skills that the job really requires; the training of the educational centers themselves to overcome inertia and clichés, with the desire to understand cognitive processes and teaching innovations. “And courage to discard practices that prove sterile.”
Example of dual training
Connecting the two poles, training and work, in dual training is the theory. AsorCAD, a reference company in 3D printing, is practice. Its own CEO, Antonio Sánchez, is a product of this public-private tandem. When? The last decade? At the beginning of the millennium? No, in 1976, so it’s not about inventing but about applying.
Companies also do not invest enough in training and it is a mistake. A well-trained professional in the latest technology will always be more productive and profitable
Antonio Sánchez, CEO of AsorCAD
That is why the company attracts talent through agreements with VET centers and mechanical manufacturing or engineering universities, and trains them exactly in the skills they need, in real technologies for real competition, and virgin, without the vices of other printing processes. .
AsorCAD would therefore be that source of demand that ends up generating supply. And that double wisdom allows you to make your own diagnosis. It is about increasing the educational budget, and also about spending it better. “It is not essential that the centers have the most sophisticated device, but equipment entry-level [nivel inicial] and licenses of software enough to teach the design and manufacturing processes that are being used in the new industry 4.0. They are the ones the students will meet.” The company provides the centers with licenses for software cheaper and also trains teachers in 3D disciplines.
Not all the responsibility falls on the academic side: “Companies don’t invest enough in training either, and that’s a mistake. A well-trained professional in the latest technology will always be more productive and profitable”, adds the CEO.
Training within the company is a virtuous circle because it attracts talent with a desire to progress. And so we enter another of the essential challenges: the motivation to train. That is why Professor Domingo Soriano says that the most repeated concept in his economics classes is, by far, “incentive”.
The educational-labour system works without quality information on present and future employment
Juan José Juárez, senior project manager of the Bertelsmann Foundation
In this crucial aspect, Juárez points to the root, to the early and secondary ages, when the natural taste for learning really takes root. Technical disciplines must be taught in an attractive, ingenious way, which does not imply infantilizing them. Use attractive stereotypes, “instead of associating them with lonely students, with a nerd face and glasses when in primary school boys and girls just want to have friends”. Juárez gives an example: programming, it has not yet been possible to present it and show it for what it is, “a language”. “Hence the professional development gap between people who have been lucky enough to learn programming and those who haven’t.”
For his part, Jiménez points to motivation in the professional training phase. How to stimulate that positive emotion? With close knowledge of the profession you want to practice, with the participation of companies and their daily battle, and in practice, testing yourself in real small-scale jobs. Just like an applicant to a conservatory “he receives information about different instruments, observes how they are played, starts with several with simple interpretations and finally chooses”.
“If we want to compose a well-balanced, tuned and effective orchestra —continues the vice-chancellor— in the labor market, first the aspiring musicians will have to really know the instruments to choose the one that best suits them in relation to the musical ensemble for which they are going to play. touch the talents they bring”.