Eva Espinosa, labour counsellor and professional coach of Fundación Laboral de la Construcción in Castilla-La Mancha, is part of the team of counsellors of the youth employment programme ‘HOY’, financed by the government of Castilla-La Mancha and European Social Fund.
Eva returned to her homeland, Albacete, to join the team of professionals who are leading the HOY campaign developed by the Fundación Laboral, with public and European support. This ambitious campaign, which began in July and will conclude at the end of the year, aims to promote the insertion of young people from Castilla-La Mancha under 30 years of age that are registered in the National Youth Guarantee System into the labour market.
Currently, about 70 young people, 27 from Albacete, are participating in this program, with the aim of improving their capacities, skills and approaches in order to become professionals adapted to the demands and competencies required by the labour market in the region. The first step in this task is to “spend time getting to know each other”. For the coach and speaker of TEDx talks is “important to identify and communicate our proposal to generate a greater impact on people and achieve our goals. This is key to make searching for employment effective”.
QUESTION: What is your role in the youth employment program “HOY”?
ANSWER: These young people participate in individual sessions to analyze the starting situation they are at and establish a personalized itinerary to improve their deficiencies and make them more employable and able to access the market. It all depends on each participant: in some cases we focused at how to improve the CV or how to use LinkedIn. Each one has specific needs and we are here to help them. We have also developed group sessions, small employment workshops on various topics such as: Tools for improving employability, Selection processes or Interview skills.
Q.- What kind of profiles have participated in this initiative?
A.- On the one hand, we have had 12 young people, women and men, with Higher Level studies in Building and Civil Works and graduates in Architecture. Many of them are interested in the BIM methodology. On the other hand, we have about 15 young people, mostly men, between 16 and 27 years old and of foreign origin, who have no training in the educational system, but who do have experience in the sector in their countries of origin, especially in Africa.
Q.- Were the group sessions done by profiles?
A.- I could have done it as I wanted and I decided to put them together. And, although they had very different profiles, they have hit it off very well. During the employment workshops, I introduce tools so that they got to know each other, open up and work on skills such as communication, active listening, empathy or teamwork. All those skills help us move within the working environment and are useful for both profiles.
Q.- How did the participants know about the “HOY” program and what was their objective once inside?
A.- Most of the young people with low qualification profile come from the NGO Accem. We also have participants from the Centre for Minors in Albacete or from the Red Cross. Their objective was to access training. Many of them are preparing key competences through this program. Some of them cannot access it because they don’t know the language and they are still learning. However, their final objective is to gain access to a certificate of professionalism in building and civil works in order to improve their employability.
Q.- How did young people with university degrees get into the programme?
A.- Almost all arrived through the Albacete employment offices and the city’s universities. The main element to improve the job search of this profile is specialization, to look for the differentiation. These young people are being trained in BIM methodology, a subject that is essential today to enter architecture studios.
Q.- Are they motivated to be part of the sector?
A.- All of them are very motivated and want to work. I tell them that there are jobs in the sector and I show them. In fact, there has just been an offer for a bricklayer in Albacete and I am going to send the CVs of three of the participants. They are also aware that there are jobs in the sector.
Q.- Is there resistance to working in construction?
A.- During the recruitment process there was some resistance due to the “boom” experienced in the past and the subsequent fall. People are afraid of entering the sector and then losing their jobs as happened years ago. There is also some resistance to work outdoors.
Q.- What has been the most difficult situation you have faced during the program?
A.- One of the main obstacles has been language. Many of the participants are still taking Spanish classes. In addition, many of them have a complicated economic situation. Without a car or a driving licence it is difficult to access the Training Centre in Albacete. And although some sessions are held in the local Youth Centre, located in the centre, the other sessions were held in the Foundation’s Centre located in the Albacete industrial estate. On the other hand, we have found an important limit: there are very few level 1 certificates of professionalism and we have some students who cannot access higher levels because they do not have the key competences. Many are discouraged by not being able to access a level 2 or 3 certificate.
Q.- What aspects have you had to emphasize most in the orientation sessions?
A.- I have noticed that many young people have difficulty in having a clear goal. We have tried to make them responsible for their situation so that they look for job opportunities themselves. We want them to stop seeing themselves as unemployed people to show themselves as professionals who offer services. I try to give them the tools and to draw up a strategy to get the jobs or the training they need. I have also noticed that sometimes they are not aware of the importance of training to do new things. Moreover, it is believed that when we talk about “professional skills”, such as initiative or teamwork, they do not have to be acquired by people dedicated to trades. This is not the case. There are certain skills that need to be developed in order to be in the labour market.
Q.- What are the employability results that the program has already collected?
A.- There is a person who has never worked in Spain before and has just signed his first employment contract. There is also another person who has started working in an architectural studio who, when he finishes the BIM training he is doing with the Fundación, has already been assured that he will stay and work with them. We have a curious case, of a 27 year old girl who lives in a small town in Cuenca and who has studied a Master’s degree in Bioconstruction, and we are helping her to work on her network of contacts to launch her work.
Q.- Finally, what have the students’ feelings been now that the program is ending? Have they fulfilled their expectations?
A.- The sessions that are carried out are focused on their needs and they value it. They tell me that it is very useful for them and they are very happy to belong to the program.
Q.- Have you missed anything in this youth employment initiative?
A.- It is important that young people are approached in order to attract new talent for the sector, but I miss employment programmes for people between 30 and 45 years of age. There are people with previous experience in the sector who could receive guidance to specialize in it. It is becoming increasingly clear that the future of employment programmes lies in specialisation.