The 2013/01/02 at 08:23
Valérie Demon, in Madrid
Determined to fight against the rate of unemployment of young people under 25 years old, already reaching doleful record levels (52 %), the Spanish government adopted, at the start of November, a bill for the development of work-study programmes based on the German model. Madrid has thus given the green light to a new Training and Apprenticeship contract, to be enforced from September 2013 onwards. Spanish regions will be in charge of negotiating with businesses. Under this scheme, work-study training will be available for three-year periods for those between 15 and 30 years old. Several options are on offer: either the regional administration or the business will pay for the training, or else it will be paid jointly by both. In the first year, a minimum of 25 % of the time is devoted to training. In the next two years, this proportion is 15 %. Apprentices will spend the rest of the time in-company. To boost the measure, the bill establishes a 100 % bonus on social security contributions for businesses with fewer than 250 employees. For those with more than 250 employees, the administration will take care of 85 % of social contributions. If at the end of three years the apprentice obtains a permanent job in the company, social security deductions will go up to 1,500 euros per male and up to 1,800 euros per female per year.
Chambers of Commerce are keen to play a role in this new reality. Indeed, prior to the adoption of the bill, they had already paved the way. At the start of September, the Upper Council of Spanish Chambers of Commerce and the German Association of CCIs (DIHK) signed a collaboration agreement to set up work-study training in Spain. According to the President of the Upper Council of Spanish CCIs, Manuel Teruel, it would be worthwhile for Chambers to play a role of coordination between businesses and the administration. The Chambers have already committed to training in-company tutors and obtaining financial support from the European Social Fund.
Already, several regions have embarked on pilot experiences. Take the Madrid region. “Everything started off with a demand from businesses and the Madrid region, to adjust training the necessities of companies. Professional training in Spain remains generalist for the moment. It needs to become specialised,” explains Carlos Prieto, Deputy Manager at the Madrid Chamber of Commerce. In 2010, the CCI of Madrid signed an agreement with the region and since then has organised visits to the CCI of Frankfurt. “To start off, we selected the air transport sector and seven businesses agreed to participate with 150 pupils from September 2011 onwards,” explains Carlos Prieto. The Madrid region offers a scholarship of 450 euros (gross) per month to every pupil for a two-year period. Every business takes charge of around 25 %. The region has since extended the pilot experience to other sectors, and collaborates with 85 businesses (large and SMEs) employing approximately 500 pupils over the 2012-2013 school year. One-third of the time is spent in the training centre, the rest in-company. “As a CCI, we look after the recruitment of businesses and we manage administrative tasks relating tosocial security and scholarship management. It is still too early to make an assessment but the procedure is underway,” continues Carlos Prieto.
The culture and industrial fabric of the two countries, Spain and Germany, nevertheless remain very different. “We are aware of it, the idea is not to copy the German model as it stands but to adapt it,” retorts the Deputy Manager of the Chamber of Commerce of Madrid. Germany has three times more medium-sized businesses than Spain, and 99.1 % of Spanish SMEs have fewer than 10 employees. “An SME can have a tutor and an apprentice, everything will depend on the company head’s profile. I don’t consider this to be a barrier. We are counting on a generational changing of the guard of bosses to promote work-study training,” continues Carlos Prieto.
In the province of Alava, in the Basque Country, the CCI is fully placing its bets on work-study training. But Pablo Almaraz, Training Manager at the CCI, warns: “We can’t do everything all alone. We are waiting for the next bill on CCIs to recognise our role in this process.” Big companies, according to Pablo Almaraz, are interested, but SMEs find themselves “overwhelmed by other preoccupations”, he adds. The Basque Country nonetheless stands out as a Spanish region to have already experimented with work-study training a few years ago, with a first year of training followed by two or three months of in-company experience. “The real leap to work-study training as it is known in Germany will not be as easy because companies must benefit from a certain infrastructure to welcome apprentices,” remarks Pablo Almaraz.