Mondragón: “The best investment of any company is to train talent”

Dual training is a strategic educational objective of the European Commission to promote employability and the economic development of countries.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
24 March 2024 Sunday 10:30
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Mondragón: “The best investment of any company is to train talent”

Dual training is a strategic educational objective of the European Commission to promote employability and the economic development of countries. This modality divides the student's time between an academic center and a company. “The skills that are acquired outside the academic environment have a more successful professional development,” explains Vicente Atxa, rector of the Mondragón University, one of the campuses that has most developed the dual modality in Spain. Comparatively, the Basque Country would be a “little Germany” due to the success of duality and the virtuous circle achieved by educational centers and companies.

“We have been applying this model for 50 years, and it works, we have hardly any youth unemployment, the link with companies is very close, they invest in talent, future professionals are guaranteed, they advance in innovation and we anticipate, they and we, the professional needs of the future ”, continues the rector. “We have to have knowledge and technology to compete in the world and generate wealth, and, in our model, generate it to distribute it equitably.”

The educational branch of the Mondragón Corporation was born with the mandate to train the technicians and specialists of the labor cooperatives spread throughout the Basque Country. It trains technical, university, master's and doctoral students and provides continuous training to more than 70,000 workers. The university (formally turning 25 years old) is another cooperative within the corporation. In addition to the Engineering branch, it teaches Business Administration and Entrepreneurship, Humanities, Educational Sciences and Gastronomy (about 7,600 students). 65% of its degrees are dual modality (50% in the company) or alternating, such as education.

Young people receive an income of between 400 and 750 euros per month depending on the hours they dedicate, the level of their studies (FP, degree, master's or doctorate) and the discipline of knowledge. Thus, an engineering degree student can earn about 600 euros part-time.

There are also easy gateways for VET graduates to continue at the university (in engineering they are validated for an entire course, which is increasing the VET route to the point that in the area of ​​mechatronics 50% come through that route).

Given the composition of Basque SMEs, there is a strong industrial component. Mondragón is the Spanish non-public university with the largest number of engineering students (2,500) and one of the first in industrial doctorates (75% of its doctoral students carry out innovations in collaboration with companies, with their financing and in their facilities).

The unemployment rate, seven months after finishing studies, is 5%, with jobs appropriate to the level of qualifications (in 85% of cases). Eight out of ten graduates stay in the Basque Country.

“The best investment of any company is talent and even more so now that the general replacement of the baby boom is taking place,” says Atxa and there will be a lack of professionals in many areas. "The world changes. Before it was the companies that chose the people but increasingly it is the people who choose the companies.”

In this sense, the dual takes on greater meaning. “The student is being trained, it does not replace anyone's work. You have to dedicate time and pay a scholarship but it is an investment so that that boy wants to stay.”

Mondragón leads the European alliance Eu4dual, made up of the 9 universities on the continent that are most familiar with dual training (Germany, Austria, Finland, France, Hungary, Croatia, Malta and Poland). Together they will work on a project that they will share with the rest of the European university network.