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Skill Mismatch: The New Challenge for Spain

Filip Norén
27 de abril de 2017

As the Spanish economy recovers, rethinking education reform should be a top priority. Spanish workers are Europe’s most overqualified, but also suffer from the greatest skill mismatch, lacking the skills necessary for their jobs.

Spanish tertiary education is poorly adapted to the needs of a knowledge-based economy. Out of sync with the labor market, it causes companies to struggle in finding employees with the right skills. Additionally, vocational training is insufficient.

However, Spain does not have too many university-educated people as is commonly alleged. Rather, it lacks corresponding job opportunities. Spanish leaders must act to stimulate more entrepreneurship and encourage employers to expand their businesses, while also making sure that the publically funded education system gets better at meeting employers’ demands for particular skills.

Meanwhile employers seem not to be doing enough themselves to counter these mismatches as they provide little specialized training to new employees. The relative lack of large corporations with the muscles to do so in the Spanish economy is an additional problem.

Also, Spanish workers face proportionally smaller wage hikes when they undertake further studies and, amid fierce competition for a scant number of graduate jobs, many end up taking unqualified jobs or leaving the country. Spain is currently running the risk of creating further indignation among the millions who are trapped with excessive education on paper and inadequate skills in reality. This could trigger a renewed authoritarian wave if Spanish leaders do not properly recognize the magnitude and urgency of Spain’s skill mismatch problem. 


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