The government of Susana Díaz has put the zero to the Comprehensive Law of Vocational Training, which presented three years ago to unify regulated education and occupational with the dual objective of tackling at one time the rate of unemployment and school dropout, two blemishes interconnected with each other.
The project was presented for the first time in 2014 and is now reborn (again) as a draft bill , without the political weight that was then given to it -it was qualified as “the most important law of the legislature” and disowned by the lack of coordination and dialogue of the competent councils: Education and Employment. The education sector applauds that the project is resumed, but has thrown strong criticism for the delays and because the Board itself has cooled the expectations of this law, announcing that the entry into force will not occur for another three years.
The Integral Law of FP is part of Diaz’s government agreement with Ciudadanos y Díaz and it was pointed out as a “fundamental and pioneering key” to redefine the Andalusian productive model. The unions complain that the lack of dialogue between Education and Employment – a constant for more than 30 years – has once again frustrated the expectations they had about an ‘essential’ law to reorient the vocational training of young people who left school for a easy work, and now they can not get out of unemployment statistics.
The chronology of the Comprehensive PF Law, from its birth in the second quarter of 2014, until its rebirth, a few days ago, is marked by political setbacks. Three years ago, when it was presented for the first time, the unemployment rate in Andalusia reached 34.7% of the active population: 1.4 million unemployed.
The crisis has consolidated in this autonomous community a chronic differential of ten points above the national unemployment rate. At the end of August 2014, an anomalous date to make such an important announcement, the Governing Council agreed to initiate the processing of the draft law of Vocational Training of Andalusia, “the most comprehensive reform of the FP ambitious, avant-garde and pioneering ” that exists, they said.
It was a law with a dual purpose: to cut the bulging unemployment rate and reduce the early school dropout rate
The standard sought to connect regulated education with occupational training with the aim of raising the qualification levels of the Andalusian workforce, opening bridges between the school and the labor market, redesigning the Andalusian production model and boosting job creation. It was a law with a dual purpose: to cut the bulging rate of unemployment and reduce the early school dropout rate , the percentage of students who leave school after completing the compulsory stage, and that is around 43% of the highest of Europe.
The integral law of FP was ‘ambitious’ because for the first time it addressed two endemic problems of Andalusia as if they were two faces of the same problem: school failure and unemployment. The FP law was ‘avant-garde’ because it sought to “reconcile and harmonize” two areas of government that have traditionally worked behind the scenes : Education and Employment, always separated into two parallel departments with much suspicion of each other. None invades the competitions of the other, but both blame the ineffectiveness of their strategies. School failure as an inevitable cause of unemployment and unemployment as a necessary consequence of the lack of training.
All the political weight was given to that project and expectations were raised as much as possible, but despite insisting on how important it was to resolve the divorce between Education and Employment and immediately implement the soothing integral law of FP, the Board of Andalusia has taken three years to reactivate that project , returning it to the Government Council to “almost start from scratch”, in the words of the new head of Education, Sonia Gaya.
In these almost three years the unemployment rate has been reduced to 25.4%, although there are still more than one million unemployed people
A few days ago, Andalusia resumed the draft Comprehensive FP Law at the same point in the process where it left in 2014. In these three years the unemployment rate has been reduced to 25.4%, although there is still something more of one million unemployed people. In these three years the active population in Andalusia has also been reduced, many young people have left the country in search of work, wages have been cut drastically, the number of self-employed has increased and most new contracts are temporary.
The Andalusian Government recognizes that the health of the labor market, working conditions and the rights of employees have deteriorated significantly, all without the public administrations having managed to cushion the impact of this crisis with that ‘ambitious’ FP law that It promised to raise the qualification levels of Andalusian students and employees . Andalusia continues to be the second region with the most unemployed, still far from the national average because of that chronic differential of ten points.
Six years for a law
It is not that the procedure has been practically paralyzed for three years, it is also that the new draft of the law appears corrected in multiple paragraphs with the tagline “in a later regulatory development”, so that the real effects of the norm will not even be noticed when it enters into force. During the presentation of the new draft, the counselor admitted that until 2020 “the law will not be fully developed”. Six years, therefore, from the initial presentation of the standard – “essential to break unemployment and school failure and to redefine the Andalusian production model” – until the actual implementation of it, as estimated by the Board itself.
The education unions and some university experts believe that “a golden opportunity has been lost”. Those who designed the integral law of FP three years ago are not the same ones who have taken it up now to develop it. The initial project was commissioned by the then Minister of Education, Luciano Alonso, who was for many years vice-councilor and historical memory of this department, Sebastián Cano (already retired). Linked to the Ministry of Education since 1985, Cano was deputy councilor for more than 13 years, survived the desperate internship of five counselors and during a very short transition period, he himself held the position.
All his professional experience led him to propose a complete reordering of VET, knowing that the big problem was that the crisis had triggered the demand for places well above the existing offer. “We not only look for an integral model of FP, but a new productive model for Andalusia, and that does not change only with a law,” he said then. The fundamental idea of Cano was to take advantage of the public institutes -normally closed in the afternoons- to give them occupational training courses, a competition that at that time was delegated from Employment to Education.
A comprehensive reform of regulated and occupational vocational training was sought to broaden the offer of courses and to involve more Andalusian entrepreneurs
A comprehensive reform of regulated and occupational vocational training was sought to broaden the offer of courses and to involve more Andalusian entrepreneurs in the training of their future employees. The idea of placing both teachings under the same roof sought to build bridges between both, especially so that unemployed young people who left school early to work soon had the claim to return to school and complete their training.
The aim was “a unique planning for all the vocational training in Andalusia (educational, employment and permanent) based on the analysis of the productive sectors and professional occupations in the 2020 horizon”. Education considered it ‘essential’ to expand the initial VET offer (which suffered and suffers from a considerable shortage of places) and considered it necessary to “review and restructure the network of centers with an increase in those where an FP of excellence is directly related to the leading productive sectors”. There was also a better coordination between the regulated education institutes and the SAE,
The law proposes more ‘flexibility’ in the adaptation of the training offer to the changing circumstances of the labor market and to the specific needs of companies, especially SMEs , which represent more than 97% of the Andalusian productive fabric. “The FP must have a modular and capitalizable character in order to favor the cumulative partial accreditation of the training received and the qualifications included in the national catalog of professional qualifications”, that is, that a student, worker or unemployed will have the facility to go taking the title partially, module by module, without the need to register for a whole cycle or an entire course. All this political, pedagogical and strategic discourse has vanished three years later.
20,000 young people without a place
A few days ago, Presidency prepared a careful staging after the meeting of the Governing Council so that the new counselors of Education (Sonia Gaya) and Employment (Javier Carnero) presented together the draft of the FP law. The project had not changed much, but the political discourse was different. The counselors went on tiptoe by the norm, they could not even reach an agreement in itself it will be an ‘integral’ law that will join the regulated education with the occupational one. Gaya said yes, Carnero said no. “Vocational Training for Employment is not integrated with regulated training, who said that?” Said the head of Employment, to the surprise of many. There were subsequent complaints from the highest levels of the Andalusian government about how this presentation of a law considered “fundamental” was handled in this legislature.
The future integral Law of FP has retraced much more than three years, because now the divorce between Education and Employment is back to the beginning. In 2014, the president Susana Díaz had transferred the powers of the occupational FP from the Ministry of Employment to Education, an unusual fact in which many saw an attempt to camouflage the scandal of the diversion of public funds for training courses for unemployed people. By then, the first arrests had been made.
The law has barely moved in three years and new education officials blame the central government
In spite of everything, the conjuncture took advantage of to bet strong by an integral law of FP, but little has been advanced since then. The law has barely moved in three years and the new education authorities attribute it to the fact that in this time the central government has approved two state laws that condition the legislative framework of the Andalusian project for vocational training.
But the underlying problem remains the same. During the hardest years of the crisis, about 30,000 Andalusians a year were left without a VET position because of the scarce supply of intermediate-level courses. The last course they have been out 20,000. Regarding the training of employed, the Ministry of Education criticizes Employment that “the scope of certificates of professionalism (minimum qualification that certifies knowledge about a trade) has been null, and in the FP for unemployed, barely reaches 50%.” The new job managers claim to ignore these criticisms, which are reflected in a report from the Board.
Between 2007 and 2013, the Andalusian Government spent 2.326 million euros to finance 36,000 courses aimed at labor insertion. At the beginning of the processing of the FP law, in 2014, the Ministry of Education denounced “the lack of commitment to structural training, the lack of preparation of the trainers of the courses, the little direct contact they have with the world business, the need to relate more the FP with demands of the Andalusian productive sector through internships in companies and to urgently update the offer of training cycles, very outdated with respect to the productive system”. “That is why we are now redesigning these policies with a 35% unemployment rate,” they said.
To complicate matters, the FP bill has stumbled on the Advisory Council of Andalusia before reaching the Parliament, since the body that reviews the autonomic legislation has found the text full of ‘grammatical’ errors and literal and ‘unnecessary’ allusions to state legislation.