This agreement, pioneering within Spain, will also serve to tailor future university qualifications to the professional profiles most sought after by the business sector.
On Monday the rector and the chairman of the ULPGC Social Council signed a collaboration agreement with the Confederación Canaria de Empresarios (CCE) [Canary Island Confederation of Entrepreneurs], the primary aim of which is to encourage innovation and lifelong learning within the islands’ business world, as well as to adapt the future provision of ULPGC qualifications to the profiles most sought after by the business sector.
This agreement, promoted by the ULPGC Social Council, is the first signed with a Spanish university within the framework agreement between the Conference of Social Councils and the CEOE [The Spanish Confederation of Employers’ Associations]. It was signed by Lluís Serra, ULPGC rector, Ángel Tristán Pimienta, ULPGC Social Council chairman, and Augustín Manrique de Lara, CCE chairman.
During his speech Lluís Serra stated that “Spanish entrepreneurs are qualified, aware of their role and their social responsibility, open to the world, and part of the Spanish business sector which includes large, important multinationals and brilliant accomplishments in many places around the world”, from the United States to Saudi Arabia, from Australia to Canada, from Argentina to China.
“Something similar is happening to the University. The perceived image is of an institution in a glass box, removed from society, which also bears no relation to reality. If this is true for Spanish universities as a whole, it is – if possible – all the more so for the most southern of its universities: the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. We are the only Spanish university to have emerged from a heartfelt societal demand. We are indebted to society. And the privileged relationship of our place within society has always been and will always be one of our key assets. The signing of this agreement is a good illustration of this”.
In his opinion, this agreement is particularly significant within several key areas of university activity, which will be found “reflected in our new Institutional Strategic Plan developed within the rector’s remit, due to the rector’s leadership of strategic planning”.
Lluís Serra summarised the elements of this agreement into three areas: first, in relation to teaching, “industry placements are built into the curriculum of all university qualifications and connect our students directly to real elements of the business world. We are also interested in having a business perspective regarding the design of our new study plans, in the context of the new qualifications map being developed by our vice-rector for undergraduate degrees. Moreover, there is a growing demand from businesses for training in very specific areas, which can either be one-off or recurring. This includes the handling of specific equipment, the use of software applications, etc. The ULPGC should construct flexible mechanisms in order to respond to these demands, with a fast response time and a very adaptable structure”.
Secondly, he highlighted innovation, research, and the exchange of knowledge between university, society, and businesses. “Not only does it include research as part of major projects from competitive calls for tender, but also projects in collaboration with businesses or authorities, promoting diverse ways through which innovative talent can permeate the business world, or even be created through the initiative of the researchers themselves. Projects with collaboration between public and private sectors are a basic means of university funding and allow for the temporary contracts of research staff to be extended. These types of undertakings require fast and flexible management which allow agreements to be created in a short timeframe and for their execution through diverse methods of collaboration: from the participation of business staff in laboratories, or studies and prototypes being developed on demand. The culmination of this effort, in which the Social Council has played an important role, can give rise to the creation of a high quality knowledge-based industrial sector through a network of companies rooted in ULPGC knowledge”.
The third element of this cooperation is employability which, according to that stated, will form one of the six large strands of the new institutional strategic plan. “Another essential element which will greatly help to improve the employability of graduates is an entrepreneurial spirit, not only among students but especially among teaching staff, so that students can find or create work. Today the greater involvement of teaching staff in the all-round education of students is more necessary than ever because, in addition to teaching students to be critical, to learn to form and defend their own opinions, and to always be committed to ethics, they also need to be taught to be entrepreneurs, in that they are capable of confronting life as if it were an obstacle course”.
Agustín Manrique de Lara, for his part, emphasised that this agreement prioritises “the strengthening of stable bonds within the university-business relationship contributing to a greater link between the business sector and the University, the strengthening of the role and, moreover, in the case of the CCE, helping and contributing its experience to the governance of the university sphere and the education of our students, as key elements in economic development”.
He added that the CCE wishes to enable the transfer of knowledge and university research adapted to the needs of the productive sector. “We intend to achieve excellence in the education of our university students, bringing this training in line with the needs of our technological society and the digitalisation of businesses in order to facilitate the employability of our students and promote an entrepreneurial spirit”, explained Manrique de Lara.
“This process of digital transformation and getting behind R+D+i are crucial determining factors in improving the competitivity of our economy and we need the University to be involved in this”, added the chairman of the CCE.
To conclude his remarks Manrique de Lara said that “in a world that is global, technological, and sustainably developed, it is necessary to educate our students as much in principles, values, and mental strength, as in professional skills, which nowadays are cross-curricular and key to their employability”.
Ángel Tristán Pimienta, for his part, emphasised that the ULPGC and its Social Council are once more leading the way, as this is the first agreement to be signed in Spain as a result of the agreement between the Spanish Conference of Social Councils and the CEOE, “aware that there is no time to lose at a moment when the rapid changes our world is experiencing as a result of globalisation and the digital age are dizzying. This directly affects the nucleus where not only are new generations educated regarding values, ethics, and skills, but which is also a key source of research and, subsequently, a great driving force behind innovation”.
The chairman of the Social Council added that “universities face different types of new and inconceivable challenges, all of which are key to success or failure. A key component in achieving our objectives is to recognise the relevant role of the business world, the great employer, and also the goal of hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurial dreams. The business and university spheres have to work in unison in shared areas in order to update training so that their graduates fit into professional work, being productive within the workplace”.
He added that across the planet new needs emerge in clusters requiring new qualifications and ways of learning. “This agreement paves the way and is underpinned by three areas. The first is to tailor academic courses to demand, to develop lifelong learning for the continued training of employees, to adapt study plans to current requirements, and to advance the possibility of carrying out dual qualifications, that is to say those taught by both businesses and the University”.
The second element, he explained, is “to do what is possible or necessary in order to bring together research, innovation, and the development of the business world in order to see what the demand in different sectors is, to help them research and innovate. The third ‘pillar’ are the students, the true protagonists. It is necessary to increase and guarantee the number and quality of external industry placements”.
THE AGREEMENT WITH THE CEOE
As the body which liaises between the University and society, the ULPGC Social Council will act as the link between the different institutions in order to facilitate lifelong learning, strategic research projects for the productive sector, and the inclusion of dual courses at the ULPGC in collaboration with Canary Island businesses.
In regard to education, this agreement envisages the creation of a catalogue of courses and university specific qualifications, at the request of the CEOE, in order to update graduates’ knowledge.
A new element is that it also aims to favour the inclusion of dual courses at the ULPGC, to which end part of the teaching-learning within university studies would be conducted in the business sphere, in a coordinated manner between the university and the business on an alternating basis and with placements of varying length.
Coordination mechanisms will be established between businesses, the researchers in charge of projects, and the ULPGC’s Fundación Canaria Parque Científico y Tecnológico, so that the CCE will be able to put forward the needs of businesses in the area of R+D+i to develop projects within the ULPGC.
In this way, the aim is to promote the transfer of scientific knowledge to businesses, encouraging research of strategic interest to the productive sector within undergraduate and masters dissertations and in industrial doctorates, applied primarily to businesses.
The agreement will also pay particular attention to the employability of ULPGC graduates, improving their external industry placements and bringing students and lecturers closer to different businesses with the aim of identifying the educational profiles which are currently most in demand and which deal with new market trends in key areas such as digitalisation, sustainable development, and entrepreneurship, among others.