Daniel Martínez (27 years old) obtained an EQF Level 5 Qualification in Administration and Finance in 2015 at IES Cuenca del Nalón, Asturias, Spain. Five years after graduation he works as a Quality Manager at Inoxnalón, a steel detailing company.
What is your work in Inoxnalón?
I do everything related to the Inoxnalón quality system both at the documentary level and at the work level. The revision of welds, paints, associated documents, certificates of materials, paint, reports, metrology, calibration of measuring equipment. Everything related to manufacturing quality control, the quality system, and all that it entails, everything that precedes quality controls in the workshop.
Was this what you were hired for initially?
No, at first the position I held was in Administration but within Administration I had some documentary tasks related to Quality because there was a girl in the Quality Department who had a lot of workload so I started to learn a bit about quality, certificates, chemical and mechanical properties. Basically, it was about getting a little into the world of metal manufacturing.
How did you get to this situation (since graduation)?
I did my job placement here. My worklife is INOXNALÓN, I haven´t worked for another company before. After the placement I continued working here replacing a girl who got married. I stayed until September 2015 and then this person returned and I left. I was unemployed for a while and in February 2016 they called me again to fill a position in the Quality Department.
How did you hone your skills as Quality Manager?
Little by little I started doing many courses after work on quality, interpretation of plans, soldering, 2D structural design., I also did visual inspection courses of soldering. Every week I meet our soldering coordinator and I keep on learning. I also deal with audits. For example, last week we had the ISO 3834 welding and EN 1090 that allows you to manufacture metal structures with CE marking. I am in charge of preparing these audits and defending them.
And all that training you do it on your own?
Yes, the company has always supported me from the beginning. They told me, hey, enrol in any course you need, everything you see that you like about this topic. The truth is that I have been really willing to learn from the first day I started working here at the Administration Department. After obtaining my VET qualification it never crossed my mind I could end up doing my internship in metal manufacturing company. When I saw the workshop here, welding and such, as I fell a littel bit in love a little, the bug of the workshop stung me more than the administration. At the end of the day, the administration tasks are more repetitive and I found the action at the workshop way more appealing and I wanted to further explore what was going on down there. I seized the opportunity to get involved in quality, to get into the workshop, start training and the company always, always supported me from the beginning. Then some courses were on my initiative and others were financed by the company. Right now I am doing a course to become an internal auditor of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.
So, why did you study Administration and Finance then?
Before I obtained my VET qualification I was studying Business Administration at the University. In my secondary school years I got interested in Economics and Maths but when I got to University I didn´t like the teaching approach at all. So after a couple of years I decided to quit and enrol in a 2-year vocational track. I felt like taking a break from university but I didn´t want to hang around doing nothing. So, yes, getting a VET qualification sounded like a plan. It’s funny because career guidance while I was at upper secondary school never suggested the possibility of taking the vocational route. Maybe you simply realise that it’s only 2-years and you obtain a profesional qualification with pretty good job prospects..
Looking back , what’s the most valuable aspect of your experience in VET?
In the VET school the teachers were very approachable. In the university, there was a difference between some professors and others, groups, I started a degree in Business Administration and at first I think there were about 10 groups and in the history subject, some groups had to do a project, exam and others and others got a pass only presenting some notes. And thent you are supposed to go to university to learn and start to see subjects and subjects … and then, you can help but wonder much of this stuff is really useful for the job I am supposed to do. In VET the system was way more focused on work. This week I atended a talk at the Chamber of Commerce about the Dual VET System. And I think it’s even better. Just being give the opportunity to have a company placement right from the first year of your studies and see how it works from the inside. At the end you are qualified to work , you have some key notions but each company is different world and it has a different system.
Do you think you were work-ready when you got your job?
Absolutely. In the end, what you have to adapt is to the system, the computer program that the company has, how it works, the people you have to relate to, what role you will have. Right now in many companies we talk about competence-based management and more than technical skills we talk about roles. Some people are more creative, anothers may show more initiative.
And what’s the role that best defines you?
A mix of creative, promoter and I pay attention to detail. I think this last bit, attention to detail is the reason why I fitted well in the Quality Department. We are implementing the competence management system in our company. It is very interesting. Many times in companies the positions are defined by technical capabilities but in the end you study a career and the technical depends on the sector in which you end up working. So I think that companies would have to start talking a lot more about roles rather than technical capacity alone.
Do you stay in touch with your former VET School?
Right now not really. It’s been quite a while since I graduated but it is true that when I was unemployed they called to put me on track of a job opening. They asked if I wanted to do an interview for company that wanted to hire someone for their administration department. The employer contacted the school and they looked at the database and selected my CV.
What do you think could be your contribution as a former student?
Provide feedback. One meeting a year, hey, what are you doing in the company? Related to the things we taught you here, which ones did you end up applying in your job. I believe that the good thing about VET is that it allows you to do the internship and to be in touch with the world of work from the beginning but there is still field to explore. So, well, some feedback, one call a year, hey, do you work? you keep working? what sector?
You mean being contacted not only once but on a more regular basis?
Yes, because maybe the first year you are in one company or maybe trying to find a job and the year after you may have moved to another.
Thinking about your professional career, what are your plans for the future?
Right now I am very engaged here. Besides quality I participate in several company projects on topics like competence-based management, industry 4.0, digitalization. I like participate, contributing in anything that’s new. Right now I am at ease where I am. If at some stage I feel like I might even go back to University and finish my degree. Why not? Why not?