Miguel and Rubén are two young Galicians who study together at the Repsol Industrial Facility in A Coruña. Their paths crossed for the first time four years ago, when they decided to breathe new life into their careers by signing up for Dual Vocational Training in Industrial Chemical Operations. This dual study model combines theoretical classes with practical experience in work centres, opening up future opportunities that are already a reality for many former students.
‘I’ve always been interested in learning more about machinery’, says Rubén Carro. This 32-year-old A Coruña native earned his degree in Sea Technology. He was shipped as an engineer officer of the merchant navy two years and stayed four others working in renewable energies. After completing this stage, he realized that he needed to expand his CV with some more practical training. ‘I joined the first edition of the Dual VT in Industrial Chemical Operations, along with Miguel, and I think it was a great decision’, he says.
For Miguel Pérez, the opportunity ‘fell into his lap’: ‘I studied a vocational training programme in Electricity, and then I spend a several years working at a company, but for various reasons I became unemployed. At that time I just happened to hear about this programme and I didn’t think twice. It was a good decision, and it’s allowed me to get where I wanted to go without leaving my city’.
The advanced Industrial Chemical Operations programme taught at IES A Sardiñeira in A Coruña is one of over 10 programmes Repsol supports throughout Spain. The programme generally lasts for two years; it includes both a theoretical portion taught by professors at the centre as well as a work-experience portion in which students receive guidance from employees in the different Repsol facilities and work centres. ‘It’s very interesting to work in a big company that offers stability, where you’re always learning’, Rubén says.
Rubén and Miguel signed up for the programme in 2013, and after completing a period of work experience they became employees at the A Coruña Refinery in December of 2015. ‘Repsol gave us a great opportunity, it’s very interesting to see a huge company invest in young people and give them training they can later put in practice as they continue growing within the company’, explains Carro. Currently, 26% of the people in apprenticeships at Repsol come from a Vocational Training programme.
‘The Dual VT programme emphasises the “learning by doing” methodology’, explains Salvador Lorenzo, Manager of Professional Integration and the Internal Instructor Training School at the Repsol Corporate Learning Centre. ‘As a Company, it’s very important to us that our employees receive specialised training that’s directly relevant to the work they will be carrying out in the plant’.
One distinctive feature of the dual training programmes Repsol collaborates with are the two different educator roles. As Lorenzo explains, each student has a tutor, who tracks the student’s progress, as well as a supervisor — usually an employee at the Industrial Facility — who volunteers to guide the student in the more practical part of the training programme.
In addition to Sardiñeira, Repsol is involved in other programmes currently underway in Tarragona, Cartagena, Puertollano, Madrid (Campus), Móstoles, the Basque country, and Cantabria, all in centres located a short distance from Repsol’s Industrial Facilities. ‘It’s paramount that in addition to the classroom training, students graduate from the program with comprehensive knowledge that’s directly relevant to what they’ll be doing on the job’, Lorenzo says.
A total of 336 students have participated in the 10 Dual VT programmes supported by Repsol. One of these programmes received an award from the European Alliance for Apprenticeship in 2016. This year, 13 students who studied in the second graduating class of the Advanced Dual VT in Industrial Chemical Operations programme at IES A Sardiñeira have just become Repsol employees in A Coruña. As Salvador Lorenzo informed us, once the programme is over, ‘many students land a job at Repsol immediately after graduating: around 33% of participants are hired‘.