FP Dual: studying in businesses to secure employment

In an FP Dual study programme schools and businesses work together to prepare training plans.

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In an FP Dual study programme schools and businesses work together to prepare training plans. In this way, students are trained as company apprentices. Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands are leading the way in this type of training.

Photo: 68% of FP Dual students in Germany get a job in the company in which they’ve received their training. Credit: Pexels.

May. For second-year Baccalaureate students this month is synonymous with final exams. June. University entrance exams. Although this may seem a difficult time, it gets even more complicated afterwards: they need to choose a university degree. The standard route of finishing Baccalaureate studies, sitting entrance exams, and enrolling at university, is still many Spanish students’ first choice. But there is another way – a route that is gradually gaining prominence and offering new employment opportunities: Dual Professional Training (known as FP Dual in Spanish).

Until now, the most well-known alternative to university has been traditional Professional Training (traditional FP), which tends to last for two years and involves a work placement. This study pathway has always had the stigma of being a choice for less able students. But in recent years this prejudice has been left behind, and FP has begun to be seen as an alternative route to accessing the jobs market.

According to an Adecco employment information report, 40% of job offers in Spain went to graduates of FP programmes in the last year, representing an eight percent increase since 2017. But in spite of the positive statistics, there is still a gap between the academic world and the world of work. FP Dual is an attempt to take a step away from the traditional FP model and bring the training model closer to businesses.

The differences between FP and FP Dual

Traditional FP falls into three categories: basic, mid-level, and advanced-level. Training consists of 2000 hours divided into various modules, including a total of 370 hours in a company work placement.

The FP Dual programme, however, is not limited to including a work placement period. Instead, the training schedule is taught alternating between schools and organisations. The school teaches essential theoretical knowledge, whilst businesses are in charge of more practical aspects and can tailor academic content to their own needs.

This formula allows schools to address company requirements more effectively, thus making their students more employable. In other words, students are essentially acting as apprentices in the company. Although this plan also lasts two years, it’s more flexible than traditional FP and can be extended to up to three years.

What to study, and at which companies?

FP courses are classified in terms of professional areas. Some examples of courses are Healthcare and Sports; IT and Communications; and Administration and Management. How the Dual route is taught depends on the autonomous community, schools, and companies involved. Each region has its own offering and there are platforms for searching  for these types of qualifications and the schools offering them.

Schools also need to work hand in hand with companies: without businesses getting involved, FP Dual programmes couldn’t exist. What is certain is that organisations are looking for more and more specialised profiles when recruiting, and FP Dual means they can offer à la carte training, as well as lessen the learning curve involved in particularly specialist roles. Companies from all sectors can join the programmes, and more and more are doing so. Some examples of the companies involved in Spain are Banco Santander, Repsol, and BMW.

Who are they for?

Generally speaking, any student in mid-level (grado medio) or advanced level (grado superior) education can sign up for this type of training. However, as explained by the Ministry of Education and Professional Training, some schools have special selection criteria which take into account fixed agreements between the schools and companies involved.

It all depends on each region’s regulations. For example in some cases students need to send their CV, submit a certificate accrediting their knowledge of a foreign language, and pass a personal interview.

Photo: Students have two tutors on the FP Dual programme: one at their school, and another at the company. Credit: Unplash.

More time spent in businesses

Germany, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Switzerland are some of the countries in which FP Dual is a popular career path. According to the Bertelsmann Foundation, between 40% and 70% of young people in these regions choose this pathway.

The German model, established in 1969, is the main international benchmark. During training students are bound to companies with a contract, through which they receive an average of 800 euros per month. That way, German companies are creating their own talent pool for future jobs. In fact, according to the Bertelsmann Foundation, 68% of FP Dual students in Germany end up working for the company in which they’ve received their training.

According to the same organisation, one of the keys to facilitating this route into employment is increasing the amount of time spent training in companies. In countries such as Spain, the minimum amount of training in organisations is set at 30%. But in Germany and Holland that figure stands at 66%; in Switzerland, it’s 75%; and in France it’s between 60% and 75%.

Two tutors guiding the way

One of the challenges FP Dual has managed to overcome is to improve the relationship between businesses and schools, in such a way that these organisations see the programme as a long-term investment as opposed to an expense. For this to work effectively, tutors within the company and the school need to be fully coordinated.

One of the advantages for students is that they have a mentor in each of the two settings. The school tutor coordinates the planning of the course and activities between the two entities. The role of the company tutor – who will be a professional working in the company – is to collaborate with teaching staff, agreeing each student’s study plan and supervising their progress.

Keys to choosing an FP Dual programme

Although FP Dual is an alternative to university studies, it doesn’t make choosing the right training course any simpler. The Bertelsmann Foundation advises following these steps:

  • Look for information on which schools offer FP Dual.
  • Find out about each centre’s pedagogical model.
  • Look for information on the services schools offer. In certain cases, for example, it might be possible to go on an overseas exchange.
  • Research which companies the schools have agreements in place with.
  • Find out whether schools have a jobs board for students who’ve graduated.
  • Find out the criteria for signing up to the FP Dual programme.
  • Keep an eye on the deadline dates for submitting application forms.
  • Enrol.

Studying for a university degree, traditional FP, or an FP Dual programme – each one of these options will give you a specific qualification. The challenge lies in putting an end to the prejudices that surround them, so all students can choose the training pathway that best suits both their vocation and their own professional expectations. Ultimately, they’re all working towards the same goal: training the workers of the future. 

Por Alba Casilda 

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