Yesterday I was having coffee with a childhood friend who I had not seen for a long time. We met in the street while we both went for a walk. We went into a cafe and we chatted all the afternoon. Neither of us had obligations limiting the conversation. We are both unemployed.

Our conversation revolved around our experiences of recent years. The reason for initiating the exchange of experiences didn’t matter: friends, family, football… They were always work related.

Together, we have both more than 20 years of professional experience, two university degrees, three master’s degrees, many training courses and expert training, hundreds of professional contacts, millions of Euros managed in our profession… We are both civil engineers. We have directed great building works which now adequately fulfill its role and serve society. We have both been looking for a job for months.

Situations like this one repeat themselves alarmingly in Spain for months, for years. Highly trained professionals from different fields, well trained and experienced, are having serious problems to get a job. Great capabilities are lost, highly skilled human resources are being undermined and society is at risk of being damaged.

The current situation and forecasts are not very hopeful. The government preaches job creation through entrepreneurship, as a solution, among others, to improve the economic map. But at the same time, the government drastically reduces its investment programs. Programs of special importance, in many cases, such as International Campus of Excellence (ICE) of Spanish universities, which the ministry launched in 2009.

The administration’s bet for the ICE program can be discussed, but the importance of the initiative cannot be argued as it lies is in its initial approach: promoting strategic aggregations between institutions, capable of creating «knowledge ecosystems», characterized by their ability to promote employment, social cohesion and economic development of their environment. All of this effort is oriented to improve the competitiveness of Spanish universities in the current global framework.

As a result of this eagerness of universities, different methodologies are being developed to optimize and integrate efforts between agents from different backgrounds and natures. As a result, new market niches can be exploited, which would not be accessible individually, increasing competitiveness at a national and international level. Furthermore, this joint effort serves directly and indirectly to promote comprehensive strategies and initiatives between government policies and resources that promote the range of solutions for achieving the objectives of the ICE.

Therefore, the importance of the work that universities are carrying out has been demonstrated, as well as the need to continue the line of work initiated. This effort will give the necessary response for the recovery of the Spanish economy and the encouragement of research and innovation to strengthen our production system. Therefore, it seems necessary that the authorities continue backing the ICE initiative. Now more than ever.

As a result, my friend and I can resort to the capabilities of the university, as we did for years, to improve our employability. We can now adapt our professional skills to the demands of a dynamic market through training and education. We will have better access to emerging occupations, new jobs. We can access information, assistance and advice programs to undertake new professional activities, to make the best possible use of the training and experience we have, generating our own work. Providing employment.

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