According to the most recently published reports, unemployment in Spain fell by 390,543 people in 2016, the largest decrease in history, which has allowed the unemployment rate to reach its lowest level in the last seven years. The statistics are promising, but we should not lose sight of the fact that Spain continues to be one of the countries topping the youth unemployment list in Europe.

Given this scenario, young people need more employment opportunities, and a generally better level of professional development is required for all students. For this reason, the Dual Vocational Education and Training system is an excellent alternative to simplify the process for young people to enter the job market.

In this regard, Spain should progress towards the prestige and degree of employability found in other European countries, such as Germany and Switzerland. The Skills beyond School review by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recognises the efforts made by Spain in the field of vocational education and training (VET), but also points out that there are few Spanish students enrolled in it.

Dual VET is a new educational model in which training is alternates between school and companies, providing better students with better professional qualifications focused on their entry into the labour market. This model is being promoted by Alliance for Dual VET, an organisation supported by the Bertelsmann Foundation, together with the Princess of Girona Foundation, Spanish Confederation of Employers’ Organizations (CEOE) and the Spanish Chamber of Commerce. There are also more than 270 member companies in the Alliance.

Francisco Belil, Vice-President of the Bertelsmann Foundation in Spain, underscores the great importance of Dual VET in Spain, because companies prepare professionals with training suited to their real needs and students receive much more thorough training that allows them to broaden their job prospects. The Alliance for Dual VET has at its core the certainty that the processes of social change should be led by collaboration and collective action in order to ensure a positive impact on society.

2017 will see the fifth anniversary of the launch of the Dual VET programme, and between 2012 and today the number of students enrolled in it has trebled. According to Universia, there are 1,765 new enrolments for this year, and according to the Bertelsmann Foundation, 80 per cent of students in the Dual VET system find jobs.

One of the companies participating in the Alliance is Enagás, which has launched a pilot project this year at the company’s different facilities. Our membership demonstrates the company’s commitment to youth employability, affording young people training that provides them with their first experiences in the job market as they complete their studies.

It is now essential to support youth by fostering their professional development and integration into the workforce; they are the future. Thanks to projects such as Dual VET, everybody – society, business and students – wins. This is why it is necessary that companies should become familiar with this type of training schemes and aware that this is an investment in our future.