This is what emerges from the study Preparing the new generation for the future of work, published by the World Summit of Educational Innovation (WISE) – an initiative of the Qatar Foundation-, for which 2,517 young people between the ages of 18 and 25 have been surveyed in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Germany and Spain. 88% of respondents feel that the guidance service is not up to standard and they would like to have had school counseling at the time they began to choose their educational itineraries. Spaniards are the most discontented, the country with the highest youth unemployment rate; 34.1% compared to 6.1% in Germany. The lack of training of counselors and teachers on the professions of the future is another shortage detected by the students, according to the report.
"We are not satisfied, they have reduced the staff of the orientation departments, we want to be agents of change and work with a model based on prevention and not be a constant fire extinguisher", regrets Ana Cobos, president of the Confederation of Psychopedagogues and Guidance (COPOE). In 1970, the General Law of Education recognized the right of students to orientation in educational centers and, since then, it has been included in all subsequent organic laws. It is the autonomies that regulate their functions and organization. The problem, according to the group, is that they are assigned more tasks than they can assume: psychopedagogical assessment, schooling reports or individualized plans for students with learning difficulties. To that is added academic and professional advice, which is just one of the legs. In addition, sometimes they combine that activity with teaching in subjects of their specialty, such as psychology.
In different reports, the Unesco recommends a school counselor for every 250 students, but according to data from Ministry of Education Spanish that ratio is exceeded in most centers, even reaching one counselor for every 1,000 students. According to COPOE, the Spanish average is one for every 800 students. "The overload of work does not allow us to work in depth in the academic or other equally important as the prevention of sexist violence, harassment, or the promotion of healthy lifestyle habits," says Ana Cobos. Punctual interventions that "do not go to the root of the problem," he admits.
Ratios like the one in Spain do not allow the counseling service to be "effective", says Vivian Onano, coauthor of the annual report Education Monitoring Report of Unesco. "It is necessary that the counselor invest time in the student, to study his case to have an impact on the decisions he makes". The students with the lowest socioeconomic profiles suffer the most, says Onano, as they do not have family networks with higher education that serve as a guide. "Their job is also to motivate students to discover their potential, if they do not know what options they have, what sense does it make for them to stay in school?" He argues.
Unlike Spain, in Germany the guidance service is external to the centers, depends on the public employment agencies. The British Government approved in 2018 a change in its national orientation strategy and moved from an external to a mixed model: each center now has a career leader (counselor), who coordinates with teachers the materials they must introduce in their subjects related to vocations and with external companies, which inform about the profiles demanded by the market. "In Spain, the model is more focused on providing solutions for students with learning problems, they tend to be pedagogues and, therefore, it is very far from work opportunities", says Hannes Brandt, project manager of the Bertelsmann Foundation, one of the the organizations involved in the promotion of Dual FP in Germany.
Marisa Villalba has been an orienteer for more than 30 years. This course must attend alone to the 1,400 students of the San Isidro public institute, in the center of Madrid. "Personalized attention is impossible, I only have four hours a year to advise students in 4th year of ESO, and we do it in group sessions with the whole class," he says. The same happens with the baccalaureate, to whose sessions families can also go. He advises applications to know the variety of careers and degrees of Vocational Training, but can not deepen with each of them.
For Carles López, president of the State Confederation of Student Associations (CANAE), the real tragedy is that counselors are not helping to tackle the high rate of early school leaving (of 17.9%, should reach 15% in 2020). "The majority of cases of abandonment occurs due to disaffection in the education system and the role of the counselor is key to not happening," he says in relation to the conclusions of the study Early educational abandonment, published in 2013 by the ministry. "They do not have resources, they lack training and they have to clarify their functions," he stresses.
The current education law (Lomce), approved in 2013 by the PP, requires students to decide on their educational itinerary at age 14, when they are in 3rd year of ESO they must choose the degree of difficulty of some subjects, for example, applied mathematics – which will lead them to FP- or academic mathematics -necessary to access baccalaureate-. "Counselors must act much earlier to allow more students to stay longer in the education system, if they help them reflect on the best option for them," says Lopez.
From the Ministry of Education, they recognize that the figure of the counselor must be renewed. "There is a shortage of counselors in our system and they are forced to face a lot of functions, and their training is insufficient," says Consuelo Vélaz de Medrano, general director of Evaluation and Territorial Cooperation. The LOE established in 2006 an enabling master's degree, "clearly insufficient for a position so complex that it requires a high degree of specialization". Despite the intention to reform, in no case do individualized attention arise. "It is not viable, it must be a collaborative work carried out also by teachers and families," he says.
"Advising students is a very complicated task, nobody guarantees that they will work in a sector to study a career," says Paloma Gallo, director of the IES Europe of Ribas, in Madrid, which this course has 1,000 students for herself.