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Innovative training to address future employment trends at airports

How can airport jobs become more attractive to people who live around the airport? How can people get appropriate training that allows them to work on the airport platform? The partners of the EU-funded DREAAM project look at innovative and tailored training solutions that could potentially address the industry needs and the attractivity of airport jobs.

Employment challenges in El Prat de Llobregat and overall in the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona

The city of El Prat de Llobregat is one of the municipalities of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB) and is home to over 64,000 inhabitants. Out of the Catalan cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants, El Prat de Llobregat has the highest GDP/capita, with 40,5% of the total GDP related to transport, information and communication. On the territory of El Prat sits one of the busiest Spanish airports - Josep Tarradelles Barcelona-El Prat Airport, as well as a part of the POrt of Barcelona.

The city represents the most critical logistics centre of the Barcelona Metropolitan Area, as 50% of El Prat’s area is occupied by strategic mobility infrastructure systems. Almost 2000 companies in 16 different economic activities operate in the municipality of El Prat. The transport and the logistics sectors play a vital role in the economy of the city, generating a significant increase in the number of jobs over the last three years. This increase is reflected in the unemployment rate of the municipality at around 10.6% - a lower unemployment rate than Spain's average of 14%. Despite the promising unemployment rate, the labour market in the El Prat region continues to suffer from a large proportion of low-skilled jobs, involuntary part-time work and low wages.

Currently, the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona strives to promote stable and quality work that matches the criteria of digitalised, green and social economies. The reindustrialisation of the metropolitan area is also pivotal in generating new employment opportunities. To address these employment challenges, vocational training is a strategic approach for the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona, as they hope to attract more young professionals.

Barcelona-El Prat Airport: employment structure on the airport platform

Josep Tarradelles Barcelona-El Prat Airport is located on the territory of the municipality of El Prat de Llobregat. It is the national airport with the most European connections. As intercontinental routes are gradually being added, the airport is in continuous growth.

The airport has 35,000 employees, out of which 900 are directly employed by AENA, the state-owned company that manages general interest airports and heliports in Spain. The airport classified its employees into three groups: management employees (e.g., engineers, economists), staff from different professions (e.g., firefighters, police officers, mechanics) and service staff (e.g., waiters, passengers assistants). Each category has special requirements: maintenance staff must possess high-level specialisations, operation staff need specific and tailored training, while service staff require linguistic competences. Thus, frequently the airport opts in-house training and vocational and educational training.

VET and future trends at Barcelona-El Prat Airport

More than 200 enterprises are settled on the platform of Barcelona-El Prat Airport. As a result, 16% of the total jobs of the city of El Prat de Llobregat are related to air transport activities, and they include aeronautical activities (airlines, handling agents, fuel supply, etc.), non-aeronautical activities (duty-free stores, parking, car rentals, etc.) and institutional activities (traffic control, customs, immigration, etc.).

BCN Vocational and Educational Training Foundation, a non-profit organisation which supports the socio-economic development of the city of Barcelona and its metropolitan area, produced a study on VET and future trends: Professional profiles of Barcelona port community. The research focused on 22 different VET specialisations, related to the airport sector, in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area. The specialisations were divided into maintenance, repair and assembly (8 VET specialisations), trade & logistics (7 VET specialisations) and tourism & hotels (7 VET specialisations).

The study results defined five popular trends in VET recruitment, two main difficulties of hiring someone after their VET training, 19 most relevant professional profiles after VET training and much more. The complete results of the study can be found here.

A new way of training: SEFED Training Programme

Practical and personalised training, based on the needs of the employers, as well as full integration in the labour market of young graduates, can contribute considerably to reducing the skills gap. SEFED Training Programme, an initiative of the Centre of Economic Promotion of El Prat de Llobregat, is an innovative way of training and VET, based on the concept of "practice enterprise". The "practice enterprise" concept occurs when a trainee-run company operates as a real business, simulating procedures, products and services.

SEFED Training Programme

For example, the latest “practice enterprise” developed under SEFED Training Programme is Cargo Prat. The objective of Cargo Prat is to train job seekers and vulnerable groups for administrative and logistics positions. In this kind of simulation, the teacher is the manager, whereas the students are the employees. Also, as in a real company, Cargo Prat has five different departments – secretariat, sales, project management, human resources and accountancy.

Cargo Prat offers free training for 42 students per year, each of them receiving eight months of training. SEFED Training Programme proved to be quite successful, as an estimate of 60% of students are recruited after finalising their traineeships.


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