Spain has the second highest unemployment rate in the entire European Union among women under 25 with a 35.6%according to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) of 2021. However, Alba Maria Mesa, 24, originally from Badajoz, has already been working for two years. Her case is quite extraordinary in the national statistics, because she had not completed her degree in electronic engineering from the University of Extremadura (UEx) and had already been hired by Grupo Cobra, a leading company in the sector.
However, if we compare her to the rest of her classmates (those who signed up for 2016), it would seem that there is nothing remarkable. “I can assure you that everyone in my class works. Most, perhaps around 70%, specialized in renewable energies“, says Alba in conversation with EL ESPAÑOL.
Indeed, electronic engineering at UEx is perhaps the great unknown to the general public within the Spanish university scene. But the truth is that, in addition to having a 100% employabilitythis summer slipped into the prestigious Shanghai ranking as the best among the more than 50 universities that offer this degree in the country.
[‘Espacios de Educación Superior’: el nuevo proyecto educativo de Alfonso González]
There are several reasons for the success of this career at this university: the “boom” of renewable energiestoday aggravated by the energy crisis, a supply exceeds demandand a region that sees how they arrive startups and investors due to its privileged geographical location and adequate solar conditions to generate electricity.
For this reason, when Alba got up a year and a half ago in her final year of studies and began doing internships in companies, she had no shortage of suitors. “I don’t know if this also happens at the national level, but in Extremadura, it’s the most normal thing in the world: that before graduating you were already working“, he explains. So much so that he even had colleagues who asked him to put forward their defense of the end-of-studies project because there were companies waiting to hire them and it was necessary that they are qualified.
This is also what happened to Alba. She entered the Cobra group to do the internship, and before she finished, they offered her to fill a vacancy as a panel operator.. As she had not yet defended her project and was therefore not an engineer, she started as an officer second class, moving to her current contract when she officially listed herself as a technical engineer on her resume.
“I work in the renewable energy sector, where there is 100% guaranteed work in Extremaduraalthough at the national level I think so too”, says Alba. Renewable energies are on the rise and Extremadura is a key territory, a national leader. In fact, more than 40% of the new photovoltaic MW installed in Spain the year “Here, the importance of sunlight is extremely high,” says Alba.
Also, this month Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez already warned that “The objective is to make Spain one of the locomotives at European level and, why not, at world level in this area in which, I insist, we have made great progress and are on the right track in recent years. years”.
It is not surprising that this woman from Extremadura is an ardent defender of the virtues of her land. Natural from Knights Sherry, a municipality of Badajoz with 9,000 inhabitants, did not hesitate to study engineering at the school of industrial engineers in Badajoz. He does not regret anything, and rightly so: “I think people don’t appreciate what we have in Extremadura and many students prefer to go to Madrid, Seville or Salamanca. They don’t know the quality we have here.”
This poses a problem for the university, since it means that there are fewer students in the area than business demand. José Luis Canito, director of the School of Industrial Engineering at UEx, explains that there are companies that have been asking for students “for three months, there is a brutal demand and they cannot find workers. Our students take an average of five years to graduate, but before they finish, it’s very easy for them to get hired.”
Electronic and automatic engineering in the UEx -this is its official name- has a 5 point cut mark, minimum. In addition, you have a 100% chance of leaving with a job, the maximum. So, we can wonder why there is this student shortage what the director is talking about.
It won’t be because they don’t make an effort to reverse the situation. Last year they held the first ‘Industrial Engineering Olympiad‘ for ESO, Baccalaureate and Higher Cycles students. “The final took place in Valencia and the team that managed to build the strongest crane with ice cream sticks won”, remembers Canito, who hopes that these initiatives will translate in the medium and long term into the increase in the number of students.
— To what do you attribute this situation of shortage?
— At a minimum, we maintain the number of registrations, but it is true that this demand is not reflected in the number of registrations. Boys of 16, 17 or 18 do not reach them. Telling a kid to go to study in Badajoz because he is number 1 in the Shanghai ranking does not matter to him.
— And the question of women in engineering, in what state is it still?
— The girl thing is blocked. It has been several years since we have exceeded 20% of girls attending school. There are initiatives to attract more women, last year they created Sí, Somos Ingenieras, an association of girls in school that tries to make visible the role of women in engineering. But we have not finished taking off in this direction. I think that’s a rejection of the word “engineering”. Computer science, for example, before it was called computer science and it was 50% or 50% boys and 50% girls. When the Bologna plan came, the name was changed to Computer Engineering, and right now they’re almost the same as us: 75% – 25%. Also, curiously, despite the fact that there are only 2 out of 10 registered, most of the prizes tend to go to the girls, and this is not a coincidence. They stand out.
José Luis Canito warns that “there are very interesting projects in Extremadura, with lithium or the hydrogen research center”, and that, therefore, in two or three years “there will be a great need for engineers“.
Alba, who studied the labor situation in the region in her graduation project, agrees with her professor: “We interviewed companies from inside and outside. The conclusions were that if many companies knew the potential of Extremadura in terms of salary means of qualified personnel, industrial level, improvement of infrastructures… would be interested in investing in the region“.
[La carrera más elegida por los 17 mejores de Selectividad: les asegura trabajo en el futuro]
When this happens, Alba thinks companies could face the reality that about 40 electronic engineering students graduate every yeara figure so lower than what they are looking for that “they don’t even have time to enter the labor market because they have already registered them before”.
— Alba, do you think that renewable energies are the solution to the coming crisis?
I am a staunch defender of Renewable energies. We must try to consume a little more renewable energy, so that it is given the importance it deserves. Not because of the energy crisis in which we find ourselves, but because it is in everyone’s hands that the situation improves. There are more and more self-consumption factories, people who work so that the factories we have produce more.
The situation is of course paradoxical. It is a career that never endswhere the jobs one finds upon graduation are not as precarious as in many other degrees, with a cutoff grade suitable for anyone who has passed the Bachillerato and Selectividad, and yet there are no students.
For him, Alba María Mesa appeals for young engineering sympathizers to opt for the Badajoz option rather than other more glamorous but less effective ones: “The school needs them to enroll, it’s a huge boost for that people come to study in Badajoz. We’re top of the leaderboard, we’ve all found work and, as if that weren’t enough, we came out wonderfully prepared.“.
Follow the topics that interest you