839 students throughout Spain – 0.2% of the total – enrolled in the average degree of VET from Building and Civil Works the one in progress 19-20, the last one for which there is official data. It was one of which had less demand along with Glass and Ceramics, Extractive Industries and Energy and Water. That same year, 36,368 students opted for a medium degree in Computer Science and Communications. In full boom of VET, which this course has exceeded one million enrolled, construction is one of the degrees that lose students: it has gone from almost 11,500 in the 2007-08 academic year, according to data from the National Construction Observatory, to 5469, half, in the 19-20 academic year, if we count those enrolled in basic, intermediate and higher vocational training.
The lack of VET students in the construction family contrasts with the high demand for qualified workers demanded by the sector. There is a lack of masons, formworkers, tilers, machinists … The National Construction Confederation estimates that they will be necessary 700,000 additional employees to execute the European funds and warns that if measures are not put in place after the truckers’ crisis that we have clearly seen in the United Kingdom, we will see that of the bricklayers. “There is a lack of specialized workers and, above all, there is a lack of workers in the new construction techniques. Mainly in the rehabilitation segment “, explains Vicente Sánchez, vice president of the FConstruction Labor Union and Secretary General of Habitat CCOO. He asks himself the question of whether there will be a shortage of labor in the future and in the answer he does not doubt: “Yes. For two reasons: the first is that there will be a growth in the construction sector through the European funds. Also in the infrastructure sector and in the private sector, fundamentally that related to housing construction or rehabilitation. “The second reason is the lack of generational change:” The 2008 crisis threw more than one and a half million workers out of the sector. . All those people have not returned. First because those who were then 55 years old are now 67 – 70 years old and second because those people, who are not going to return because of their age, were the ones who usually brought the new generations by the hand “.
NO GENERATIONAL RELAY
The traditional chain of entry to the work has been broken and in the institutes it is increasingly difficult to fill the degrees on construction with young people who want to learn the trade. “The number of students has been falling for years” , acknowledges Javier González López, Director of Training and Employment of the Construction Labor Foundation, “it is difficult to fill the cycles, especially in regulated vocational training – intermediate and higher degree – although it also occurs in the certificates of professionalism, which are courses a little shorter”. These courses are mainly intended for the unemployed or workers who want to recycle.
González complains about the lack of public supply and acknowledges that the high market demand makes some of his students leave classes before finishing: “The company arrives and they offer them work before finishing the course. There is a shortage of labor, more and more, and sometimes it happens to us. The students leave“. He fears that this is becoming more frequent and alert that with the current level of enrollment the needs will not be met:” It is that they are very few, very few. Keep in mind that to comply with the Government’s forecasts only in housing rehabilitation we would need 25,000 students per year“.
Ana Oliver says that she has never liked studying or, rather, “eating books”. He is 16 years old and is studying a medium degree of construction technician in the center that the Construction Labor Foundation has in Villanueva de Gállego (Zaragoza). She explains that “she was looking for something manual” that did not force her to sit for six hours or in front of a screen and that had a future: “In this sector, a lot of people are needed”, affirms roundly through videoconference from the educational center. In her class there are a dozen and she is the only girl. His colleague Daniel Pórtoles, 19 years old and a student of the intermediate degree of technician in excavations and surveys, says that she is the second woman he has seen in the center in the three years that he has been there. Both believe that people have an outdated view of construction and that the lack of social prestige weighs heavily when choosing this type of study: “When you talk to people and tell them: I am doing a medium degree in construction. They answer you: bah, you’re going to lay bricks, and it’s not that easy, “says Ana. “The work and what we study is very little valued. People think that they have much less merit than a doctor, a teacher or anything else and for nothing. Much of what I study for anyone would be complicated too. We do measurement work, we are beginning to make plans, to put tiles on the wall, we have also done some crane classes. “Daniel has chosen precisely to learn how to handle the large construction machines although he emphasizes that it is much more:”It is not just driving the machine. We study the terrain on which we are going to work. Because it is not to arrive and put yourself to make holes. You have to see if that land is good for you to make a building. “He graduated from high school after passing basic FP at the same training center and he does not rule out continuing to the higher grade. He came to construction through his father, who is a surveyor, and the one who accompanied the works as a child He defends the future of a sector in which manual work is difficult to replace: “You are going to an automotive degree and that well, tomorrow, just as a machine does or a robot. But tell me tomorrow which machine or robot you are going to build with bricks. “He is also well aware that young workers are scarce: “You go to a construction site and the average age of workers is between 45-50 years old.” Only 18% of construction employees are under 34 years old, highlights Javier González: “There is no generational change. All those who leave do not enter and of those who leave many have an exceptional qualification that they are not passing on to the new generations and that is generating a labor shortage “.
LIKE A HOSPITAL
“There is a risk that the funds that are going to come from Europe cannot be met,” he adds, “We are talking about an investment of 11 billion until 2030. If you do not have workers of this type, who are high demand workers because they are very specialized, that they are going to install solar panels, that they are going to make a roof covering … it is obvious that the funds will not be able to be executed at the local or regional level unless urgent measures are taken for requalification and also for attracting workers from other sectors with excess unemployment, young people and women “
For Vicente Sánchez, the solution is through the requalification of workers and by giving prestige to a sector marked by the stigma of the real estate bubble, the harshness of work and the accident rate. “The construction sector has to be like a hospital. Nobody enters a hospital without first having some kind of professional qualification. Neither the medical service, nor the nursing service, orderlies, assistants … why can anyone enter the construction sector? A work has to be like a hospital and everyone who enters that work has to have training, an accreditation, a certification that says what they can and cannot do. “Sánchez points out that construction has higher salaries in its favor. of the average. 22,789 euros per year It is the average salary according to the CNC employers. The lowest is paid by ordinary laborers and is almost 17,400 euros a year, 4,000 euros above the Minimum Interprofessional Salary.
The Construction and Rehabilitation of buildings is part of the twelve strategic sectors included by the Government in the VET Modernization Plan. The Secretary General of FP, Clara Sanz, assures that it is a good example of how the offer of degrees cannot be governed only by the demand of students and ensures that “what we are doing is keep the places that exist even when not fully covered and also doing a very specific job in orientation so that students and families understand that this has an impressive job prospect. “Orientation is being directed, says Sanz, not only among young people:” There are many busy people who want to change their jobs. sector and many unemployed who must be directed to those positions for which there are no professionals. We are directing all training for employment to these sectors. Building and civil works is one of the priorities “.
Ana and Daniel hope to start their professional life shortly in a sector that they see with optimism. “What most teachers do not say is: in two years, when you finish the degree, you will surely have one or two companies that will want to hire you because there are no workers. there are people who are going to retire in 10 years. Young people are needed. For us it is an incentive. It is not safe work but you have more ballots than in other grades “.