The labor perspectives of FP graduates, a complex problem

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  • 27/01/2022
  • Tiempo de lectura 5 mins

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António Augusto Baptista Rodrigues. Docente e investigador en el ISG - Business & Economics School (Portugal)

In 2014, the Portuguese government, through Decree-Law No. 43/2014 of 18 March, created, within the scope of higher education, an educational offer of a professional nature at level 5 of the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning, approved by recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 23 April 2008, which foresees the existence of short study cycles linked to the first cycle of studies, with 120 ECTS of two years duration. The offer of training at this level has a strong regional insertion, in the definition of study plans and in the implementation of the on-the-job training component, as well as in the mandatory interaction with companies and business associations in the region.
In the US, aware of the importance of short courses, in 2015, Barack Obama presented the American's College Promise - a 2-year plan of free education at Community College for "all who are willing to work for the course". This plan allows American students to complete half of their degree for free and acquire skills to work in an increasingly qualified world.
Despite the creation of these courses, reality shows that there is a skill mismatch between the skills offered and the skills the market needs. The great challenge will be to adapt the skills of professionals to their work in order to increase the level of innovation and economic growth, empower individuals and resolve the situation of rising unemployment (Cedefop, 2010)[1].
There are several opinions about what will cause a skill mismatch, which are based on explanations of structural, cultural and institutional factors, at various levels, national, individual or sector of the economy (Allen & Velden, 2005)[2]. In the coming years, Vocational Training must be decisive to achieve the success of structural changes in the economy by responding to the labor needs of a greener, more sustainable and digital production model.
I believe that Vocational Training, and especially Dual, has become an effective alternative due to the advantages that companies have to solve their needs for qualified workers.
When we talk about training there are no definitive solutions because training, its results and effectiveness are dependent on many uncontrolled variables such as the variation in the economic situation, new qualifications, new worker profiles, new business models, etc.
Portugal has more than 24 thousand job vacancies unfilled, which represents an increase of 54% compared to last year. Accommodation, catering and construction are the main sectors without labor. By the end of October 2021, there were more than half a million job applications, but there were about 24 000 jobs left.
Although requests have fallen compared to the same period in 2020, the vacancies to be filled rose 54%, a considerable increase and close to the maximum reached four years ago – when nearly 25,000 vacant vacancies were registered. This mismatch between demand and supply affects certain sectors, in particular the accommodation, catering and construction sectors. For example, in the catering sector finding workers now takes twice as long. Unattractive wages explain part of the problem.
For example, the World Travel & Tourism Council, in this context of the labor shortage crisis, advocates greater complementarity between the company and the school, more qualification and requalification of the workforce and retention of talent.
Closing employment gaps in the future will require structural reform and strong social investment. A restructuring of current education and training programs — including lifelong learning — is needed not only to effectively address the mismatch between the skills of professionals available on the market and the needs of companies and their future expansion plans, as well as to combat the growing shortage of skilled workers that will tend to worsen.
The difference between what we live in today and what we faced in the past is the speed at which economies and markets evolve, which greatly increases the difficulty in hiring professionals with the speed and qualifications that companies need. Today, the aim is to have a set of experiences and not a career, in which people are more concerned with new work models and agility, in addition to social issues. On the side of companies, there is greater reluctance to take big decisions and there is a "mismatch between the technical skills they are looking for and the offers on the market".
In conclusion, to drive sustainable economic growth we need to fill all employment gaps, be they qualitative or quantitative. In addition to increasing the workforce, greater involvement of the workforce and better use of the human resources we have available are required.

[1] Cedefop (2010); The Skill Matching Challenge: analysing skill mismatch and policy implications; Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
[2] ALLEN, Jim and VELDEN, Rolf van der (2005); The Flexible Professional in the Knowledge Society: conceptual framework of the REFLEX Project; REFLEX working paper 1.
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