By Lorena Martínez Jiménez, Journalist, Spain
“When I was 16, I wanted to drop out of school and start an apprenticeship. The first problem was my parents because they said you have to go to university and study something real”, explains Benjamin Poredos after giving a talk about his experience as apprentice to young Europeans at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
He explained to the young group that if people do not get good grades at school or they do not want to go to university, it is not the end of their career. “In whole Europe, people think if you do not go to university you career goes to an end and that is not true.”
In his own experience, it can be even the opposite and young people can have more options as nowadays the labour market is overwhelmed with young people with degrees and masters. “In Austria, we have a lot of graduates who are not able to find a job because they lack of work experience”, affirms Poredos.
23% of young Europeans have no jobs. In Spain, Greece and Croatia the percentage reaches over 50%, making youth unemployment a priority for the European Union, and the Vocational Education Training (VET) a useful tool to help young people to find a job.
“The VET is important because when young people go through a VET programme, they get skills that make them more attractive for employers. They learn no only the technical skills but social skills, such as communication and leadership that are soft skills. It creates more employability and it is more likely that young people will find a job,” states the Policy Officer for Education and Culture in the European Commission, Mariann Klingber.
Poredos remembers how he went from failing at high school to do the apprenticeship as a machinist in a factory in Austria that led him to become a training instructor in the same company. “At the school, I was bored and not interested in what we were studying but when I started the VET, it was something that I really liked and wanted to do.”
Poredos´ story inspired the audience who did not raise their hands when the panellists asked if anyone had done a VET programme. After the debate, some of the young people approached to the apprentice to continue the talk on the VET programme.