Besides the problems of massive unemployment and a sluggish economy, Spain has an "alarming" situation on its hands when it comes to education and training, according to the secretary general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Angel Gurría, a Mexican who heads up the organization of 34 developed nations said that "despite progress in terms of student participation, the quality of Spanish university education is a long way behind that of other countries.
"There is no [Spanish] university in the international rankings," he added.
Looking at the results of the OECD’s recent examination of skills and knowledge among adults – the PIACC test – Gurría said that Spain "left a lot to be desired" in reading comprehension, mathematics and problem solving, where Spanish graduates fare no better than high school students in Japan.
The PIACC results showed that Spanish graduates under the age of 30 have one of the lowest rates of reading competency among the 22 participating countries.
According to Spain's Publico newspaper, Gurría highlighted what the OECD considers a disconnect between higher education – with its "strong theoretical slant" – and the Spanish labour market.
Given that Spain’s graduates face such a “difficult transition to the labour market,” Gurría told his audience at the CYD Foundation that it is imperative to design a strategy to improve their abilities.
Poorly trained or otherwise, the current grim reality for Spain’s graduates was laid bare at the event by the presentation of the CYD Foundation’s annual report, which shows that one third of people with degrees are doing a job for which they are overqualified.
According to the report, this figure puts Spain at the head of the European over-qualification table, followed closely by Ireland and Cyprus, which are also well above the European Union average of 20 percent.
According to the daily El País, the foundation’s data also reveals that six percent of graduates occupy unskilled posts, meaning some 70,000 of the country’s highly educated people are serving drinks, mopping the floor or doing other menial labour.