April 22, 2024


Young Spaniards have grown up in the midst of two economic crises that have especially damaged youth employment, and this is reflected when choosing where to enroll (FP or university). 54% of them would have chosen other studies if their economic future had been assured, according to a survey by the SM Foundation entitled why we study. And, although there are differences due to their socioeconomic condition, there are a minority who affirm that vocation is the main reason for their selection. 18% of young people with fewer resources cite vocation as the reason, compared to 29% of the richest. Half (53%) are concerned about having chosen a profession or a training itinerary that in the future will be replaced by technology. This Thursday, while in Andalusia and Castilla-La Mancha they finish the EVAU exams, in most of the communities the grades are beginning to be known. Competition in certain degrees of health sciences and technicians with high employability is to the hundredth.

The SM Foundation presented its study at the Corazón Inmaculado religious and subsidized school, located in an upper-middle-class neighborhood of Madrid and with a majority of students without financial problems. Among his first-year high school students (16 and 17 years old) there are many ―also girls― who study many hours to get into an engineering course with a devilish cut-off grade. This is the case of Covadonga Murillo, who wants to enter Mechanical Engineering. “All my life I have been clear that I wanted to do Teaching, until now, that I have realized that, in the long term, I do not see it either. For the money and stuff, ”she admits, although she “loves” the mechanics.

16% of young people with few resources recognize that the most important reason for opting for one study and not for another is the ease of passing the title, a condition that only conditions the 5% of the wealthiest. Alberto Meroño, who needs a 13.2 out of 14 in the final grade to enter the Madrid Polytechnic to study Industrial Engineering, could afford to enroll in a private university, but it is not in his plans, thanks to his grades . “I can reach it, I have never lacked effort and work. I like the subjects and my parents and cousin are industrial engineers. They have not advised me, I see that it is a very complete degree and I have informed myself a lot ”. That is why Alberto does not hesitate to opt for the “more traditional” Polytechnic, compared to the Carlos III University, more focused on innovation and new technologies.

“Employment is the second concern of youth, after the environment. After having lived through several crises in a row, it should not surprise us,” says Ariana Pérez Coutado, director of the study. “In the lowest economic contexts, the ease of title emerges, less importance is given to education. Their itineraries are more complicated, due to the time and dedication that a degree requires, which they often have to balance with work. They look at the cost of spending four or five years studying a degree. The need to enter the labor market is more urgent for them, in order to support their families or to support themselves”, she continues.

Class in the first year of Baccalaureate at Corazón Inmaculado school in Madrid.
Class in the first year of Baccalaureate at Corazón Inmaculado school in Madrid.JOHN BARBOSA

A study by the Complutense University showed that its low-income students opt in greater numbers for Optics or Podiatry ―old diplomas―, quick to use, compared to Medicine, which requires six years of study and a specialty of another six; or they rule out studying a double degree that requires enrolling at least six years full time.

Four out of five young people, according to the 40dB study. For the SM Foundation, they maintain that society gives more importance to having a degree than to being a trained person, and only 45% think that professional training has the same social recognition as university. The respondents are 1,200 young people between the ages of 15 and 29 from four countries, including Spain. They denounce the titleitis ―Without a diploma, skills are not recognized, say 61%―, but they fall for it; In the opinion of 67%, the most important thing for professional success is to be well-connected (it rises to 71% among the most disadvantaged). “Students do not look at the entire catalog of degrees, they pay attention to those that have job opportunities,” says Pérez Coutado. A pragmatism that collides with the need to face climatic or social challenges.

Pragmatism among young people is so great that 79% of those from the upper classes believe that the offer of academic places must be adjusted to the demands of the market, a percentage that drops to 66% among those from the lower-middle class. Pérez Coutado maintains that the most disadvantaged are more afraid of not having a place in a public institute or university, while those of the upper-middle class can afford to enroll in a private institution.

The guidance service of educational centers, which can help young people to opt for one or another study, is a great pending issue, especially in public ones. The counselors serve four times more students in the institutes than those recommended by Unesco. 41% of disadvantaged students consider that they have received too general advice, a perception that only 25% of the richest have, who often attend paying schools. Nor are they satisfied with the study techniques they have been taught: only 12% of low-income students and 26% of the wealthy are convinced.

Jimena Bretón and Paula Reilón, students of the Technological Baccalaureate, are happy with the orientation they received at the Corazón Inmaculado school. “Thanks to the Mathematics teachers I have discovered that I like the world of technology a lot. And then the school has offered us talks about engineering. Parents come or take us to universities, ”says Jimena, who needs a very high grade to enter Industrial or Computer Science. In other settings, they are not that lucky. Next to her, Paula, who intends to enroll in Aerospace Engineering, agrees: “Thanks to the talks we’ve had, we know how to differentiate the different engineering fields, because some share many concepts. They focus us, we know what each one is dedicated to”. Many students sign up for engineering blindly and are disappointed, which is why universities such as the Polytechnic of Valencia visit centers to explain the differences between the degrees. At the Immaculate Heart, they can solve it.

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