LAB meeting, Spain

The first STYLE-Spain Local Advisory Board (LAB) meeting took place at the Faculty of Education of the University of Oviedo on the 4th of December 2014. The meeting was organised as a seminar and involved key actors of the most representative trade unions and employers federation; the representatives of the Employment Service of Asturias and the Association of Young Entrepreneurs apologised for their absence.

After formally presenting the STYLE project, the research team in Spain and the lines of research in which the team is involved, the assistants were informed about the role of the LAB in the project, the state of the research, and the next steps to be followed.

Besides formally constituting the Spain LAB and presenting the project, another objective of this first LAB meeting was to collect the LAB’s perspectives on some key issues regarding youth unemployment, school-to-work transitions and youth employment policies in Spain. These were to be collected for the first report of working package 3 (Policy Performance and Evaluation Methodologies). The specific topics discussed were: main innovations regarding youth employment policy in Spain and the expected effects of the most recent reforms; whether there are (or not) specific groups of young people that are receiving more attention (or should do); what are the prospects of young people employment considering current policies (youth guarantee, mobility, migration, vulnerable groups, labour conditions and unemployment); the level of innovation in Spain, the factors that drive innovation and the obstacles to policy learning and transfer.

The main conclusions obtained were that Spain has a low level of innovation in labour market policies, specifically, as to policies oriented to the youth. The discussion also emphasised that, in recent years, labour market policies are increasingly oriented to the youth, as shown by the Youth Guarantee and the Dual Training pilot regional programmes which are currently underway.

Main issues of debate

Innovation

Both trade unions and employers’ federation’s representatives described Spain as a country with a low level of innovation in employment policy. They highlighted that recent changes in both overall and youth employment policies constitute mostly small changes to policies that were already underway. The objective of these changes is not so much implementing innovative policies but adapting old strategies to address the new scenario of high level of unemployment, particularly high among the youth. Also, mentioning some examples, they remarked the importance of regional social dialogue when designing and implementing changes in public policies.

Dual Training

The stakeholders of the Spain LAB reflected that recent changes in youth labour market policies are focused on two main measures: first, the Youth Guaranty Programme promoted by the EU and, second and related, the Dual Training Programme, mostly carried out in Spain by regional governments. The Dual Training Programme aims to give both formal education and work experience at the same time to the young and some pilot programmes are currently in operation, for instance, in Asturias, as a result of regional social dialogue. The certification of experience and knowledge acquired through work was mentioned as another important advancement in policy. This is particularly relevant given the high proportion of people with low levels of formal education in the Spanish labour market. The overall improvement in recent years in the transferability of training and educational credentials within the EU was also pointed out as a significant advancement.

Vulnerable Groups

In recent years, youth labour market policies in Spain were mostly oriented to one specific group of youths: those who are neither studying nor working. Of particular concern are school early-leavers. Some of them entered the labour market too soon, others could never enter it. Different measures are needed for those who have worked and acquired a profession but do not have any credentials to demonstrate it, and those without formal education and who are not able to enter in the labour market.

Mobility

One of the most important current measures oriented to the promotion of labour mobility has been the official accreditation of professional experience. The formal accreditation of expertise and abilities allowing people to work in other EU countries should increase external geographical mobility. Even so, geographical mobility, even within the country or within the region, is far from being the preferred option of the youth in Spain..

Multi-level government

All participants in the Spain LAB highlighted the importance of the multi-level (national, regional, local) governance structure in Spain. The existence of multi-level governance leads to different ways of managing and implementing the same policy and, subsequently, to differences in the results. They also remarked that the existence of different levels of governance must be taken into account when designing policies in order to avoid the imbalances that may result from applying one policy in a specific context that was designed at a higher level of governance.

Location: Faculty of Education, University of Oviedo

Date: 4th December 2014

Participants:

Mr. Abel Suárez

Asturias Organization and Communication Secretary – Trade Union UGT (Unión General de Trabajadores)

Mr. Adrián Redondo

Asturias Youth Secretary – Trade Union CCOO (Comisiones Obreras)

Ms. Guiomar Álvarez

Training Secretary – Employer’s Federation of Asturias (FADE)

Ms. María C. González-Menéndez, Ms. Begoña Cueto, Ms. Ana M. Guillén, Mr. Rodolfo Gutiérrez and Mr. F. Javier Mato

STYLE, University of Oviedo