Founder of Medac Official Professional Training Institute, which in just eight years has gone from having 60 students to 10,000. Paco Ávila (Málaga, 1974), who started out as a sports teacher, has expanded his business to various provinces in Spain and hopes to do so in other international markets.
FP employees increase productivity in industry by 11.5%. How to bring young people to STEM professions. How did a private FP institute emerge?
It arises from interest and curiosity. I compared the German model with the Spanish one and immediately saw the gap that there was. When I studied FP, only 6% of young people studied it, while in Germany it was 45%. In 2008 we took the initiative, our idea was to adapt the German model to the needs of Spain.
The main difference was the inexistence of a business or industrial fabric that absorbed all the offer of a dual training model.
What distinguishes them from the competition? We grow more than the rest due to the speed and prestige that we have built as a brand. During the pandemic we easily adapted, we kept the same class schedule and did not do any ERTE, we have been rewarded a lot for all this.
The differential attribute that gives us value is intangible, our commitment to the student differentiates us from our competitors, we do not skimp on costs. It is also true that we earn much less than them, we are aware, but we are in education.
You can do a good business that is profitable, make money, and help people. We also finance the full title without interest and we run the risk of non-performing loans, which we have very little.
What is the reason for this rapid expansion? We want to be present throughout Spain. I believe that our country needs to transform its human capital, and I believe that we are going to have a very relevant role there.
I’m not going to stop, I love this, it’s purely vocational. We are also expanding with our own titles in Latin America, although unfortunately the law does not allow it otherwise. I think that our growth is due to the methodology, 85% of our classes are practical.
There are no classrooms with chairs, everything is laboratories, it is all practical and I think this is a key element. The other is the lack of complexes, to start saying that we are from the FP.
Is Vocational Training stigmatized? There is a great stigma on VET in Spain, which does not occur in other countries. However, mathematics speaks for itself and leads to opt for VET which, compared to a university degree, has less unemployment, greater demand for employment and more opportunities.
It really is the educational answer for job placement and to transform society and the Spanish market. Above all, this perception exists in the wealthiest classes, in the middle and lower classes, it has begun to change.
What has gone wrong in Spanish education? Educational policies have looked too short-term and have been constantly changing, so there is no certainty. The policy debate is completely elsewhere and focuses on ideological aspects, important things like adapting to the labor market or investment are not discussed.
The public model has a great lack of investment, especially in certain regions, so they cannot compete. I come from the public and I would like there to be a competitive public, but in Spain it continues to teach with an obsolete industrial method.
What do you hope will change in the educational model? There should be a national pact for education. That education, which is the human capital of a country and what allows it to compete, is not ideologically appropriated. We have to instill in society that we must study throughout life.
VET is better adapted to the job market, the itinerary is more practical and shorter, it is a first step and not a goal. We have to change the professional culture of Spanish.
Are there advances? There are projects to implement new training in cybersecurity, robotics and others. That they do it as soon as possible and that they let them develop. If they see that they do not have the economic capacity to do so, leave it to the private parties.
The private sphere can serve to push these fields. This is not about another debate other than that training should be free and universal access.