The Government wants students enrolled in Higher Vocational Training to be able to take optional subjects in faculties, and vice versa, for university students to be able to travel to institutes that offer very practical preparation. This is contemplated in the preliminary draft of the FP law being finalized by the Executive and which will soon pass through the Council of Ministers. For this, the universities and the autonomous governments, which manage the VET centers, will sign agreements, if the text goes ahead in Congress, where it is not expected to give rise to the controversy that generated the Celaá law. At present, after passing the baccalaureate, the system divides students of tertiary education – career or Higher VET degrees – into two waterproof systems that only converge at the moment of validation of subjects to jump from one teaching to another. Of the 1,309,762 university students who entered last year, 10.5% (137,525) came from FP.
The system is currently the antithesis of what is claimed in a society that requires transversal and multidisciplinary knowledge. That is why the Professional Training Law – also the Organic Law of the University System (LOSU) will address the fit – seeks to build bridges between campuses and institutes, and that includes collaboration between teachers, shared use of facilities or greater facilities in the validations. In Portugal there are even degrees that students start at VET institutes and finish at a faculty. The rule that the Government prepares sows a seed, but it does not go that far.
The content of VET studies has been established since 1990 by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. The autonomies can add but not modify the matter. With the new curriculum, electives appear according to the interest of each student, but it will be necessary to continue passing the core subjects. These foundations, without which the subjects of free choice cannot be understood, are what allow the VET degree to be recognized in the European framework. The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis calculates that if Spain wants to be competitive it should go from having 26% of university graduates to 38% before 2050 and in Higher FP, from 11% to 17%.
To create any degree of VET, the ministry consults – in this order – the directors of the companies, who put their needs on the table; to the workers, who explain how and in how long they do the work, the expenses or the income; and to teachers, who must teach the skills in the classroom. Therefore, it is a very practical teaching and different from that of the university, which gravitates around great knowledge, although it is already beginning to look towards employability due to pressure from students and the market.
On the other hand, for the students of the Higher VET – who until now have not had the opportunity to choose elective subjects and can also access from a medium degree of VET – it may be attractive to delve deeper into a certain topic at university. For example, a student of the higher degree in Administration and Finance would have the possibility of increasing his knowledge in microeconomics; or that of Characterization and Professional Makeup, on dermatology. The articles of the law do not establish a maximum percentage of subjects that can be taken in classrooms of the other modality.
Changes in validations
The new standard aims to create a “cooperation framework” with which it is intended to give legal certainty and the same value to all the teachings. “The educational administrations and the universities will promote mutual recognition, as credits (…) to facilitate the establishment of training itineraries that recognize the training previously acquired in both directions”, points out in the preliminary draft, which has been accessed by EL COUNTRY. Although the Organic Law of Education (LOE, 2006) established that a Higher FP degree consisted of 120 credits and a university degree of 240, the Administration did not delve into the subject and today a faculty can validate six FP subjects and another faculty of the same career only two.
The system of access of a graduate in Higher FP to the university does not vary, it is enough for them to receive the average grade of the FP file (out of 10), and if they aspire to a more demanding degree (up to 14) they must attend the selectivity. Up to 11,600 of these graduates tried to raise their grade in 2019. The entry in the opposite direction does change. Today Education has to make a singular resolution, validate each file, so it intends to do a unique procedure.
The advancement of higher VET is unstoppable, driven by its enormous pull in employment. Last year 470,810 students enrolled, 7% more than the previous year (30,423 people). In its face-to-face modality, men predominate (54.6%), mainly enrolled in the public (70.9%). Their drive is such that through their foundations many private universities (CEU, Alfonso X el Sabio, ESIC or Francisco de Vitoria) are opening Higher FP cycles and will surely encourage the crossing of classrooms between their students of both modalities.
The experience in the institutes generates innovation ―for example, in simplifying the processes to fix a breakdown in a car― and the intention with the law is to “develop integrated environments for joint work between the different higher education teachings” ―that is, Shared centers of excellence – with the intention that there is a transfer of knowledge and that resources are optimized. The institutes that participate in the projects will maintain the organic and functional dependence of the regulations established for VET. There are already joint programs between professorships and VET centers, but without official recognition.
To start these projects a financial item is needed. Until 2023 it will come from community recovery funds approved to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic. Education works so that from then until 2027 it can be financed with regional development funds (Feder).
In a world in constant change, it is essential to update oneself, and the communities together with the Government have devised specialization courses for graduates in Higher FP that have received many applications for a place – they start next year. His intention with the new law is that university graduates also have a place and can be nourished by the practical teachings of Higher FP. Your content will change as innovation advances. For example, there is a specialization course in maintenance of hybrid and electric cars and perhaps in 10 years it will be a hydrogen fuel cell. Its duration, between 600 and 1,000 hours, depends on the content.
In the autumn the draft of the LOSU will be made public, which could include new information on the fit of both teachings, but the Ministry of Universities does not advance anything: “We have been working together with Education. These footbridges seem to us a positive advance that makes our educational system continue to adapt to the needs of society ”.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.