The Spanish VET system

The National Qualifications and Vocational Training System established in 2002 offers two different approaches providing VET in Spain: one from the Education System and the other from National Employment System.

VET offered in the education system is primarily oriented towards IVET and has deep roots and tradition among the youth population after Secondary Compulsory Education. On the other hand, VET in the National Employment System is aimed at a more adult population either employed or unemployed, and is considered CVET. VET of the National Employment System is named, since 2007, as National Subsystem of Vocational Training for Employment.

Government-regulated VET provision

The two above mentioned approaches within the National Qualifications and Vocational Training System are integrated thanks to Units of competence of the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications (Catálogo Nacional de Cualificaciones Profesionales CNCP). However it must be noted that this Catalogue is not a Catalogue of official accreditations or diplomas, but a reference tool to elaborate the formal qualifications that award and certify a qualification level by the Education and Labour Authorities.

The CNCP includes so far 667 Professional Qualifications, published as Royal Decree and developed through a coherent and common methodology by the National Qualification Institute (INCUAL) (see chapter 3). Each Professional Qualification is formed by a set of codified units of competences (UC) developed following a common methodology and established criteria which are the reference to the Catalogue of VET Diplomas (Catálogo de Títulos de Formación Profesional), developed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports and to the National Repertoire of Professional Certificates (Repertorio Nacional de Certificados de Profesionalidad, RNCP) developed by the Ministry of Employment and Social Security. The procedure of assessment and accreditation of labour experience and informal learning is also based on the same Units of Competence (UC) definitions of the Qualifications in the CNCP, as they are defined as "the minimum set of professional competences which can be partially recognized and accredited". In the last two years the procedure for the accreditation of non-formal and informal learning has been implemented following the procedure of recognition of professional competences acquired through workplace experience.


VET in the education system

Besides the general education mainstream starting on Pre-primary education (up to 6 years of age) and followed by the Primary education which is the first compulsory stage of the education system, lasting six years (ISCED1A), we should consider the first basic and compulsory VET programme, the one starting in the Compulsory Secondary Education. Pupils that meet all the standards set for this stage of education, which comprises four years, are awarded with the Educación Secundaria Obligatoria Certificate (ISCED2A), which provides them access to Upper Secondary Education either Bachillerato (ISCED3A) or Intermediate General Vocational Training (Título de Grado Medio ISCED3B), Intermediate Arts and Design or Intermediate Sports VET Diplomas (Enseñanzas de Artes plásticas y Diseño y Enseñanzas Deportivas de Grado Medio ISCED3B) or the labour market.

Pupils who do not achieve ESO objectives receive a Certificado de Escolaridad stating the number of years of attendance and the marks obtained. For such students Initial Vocational Qualification Programmes (PCPI) are organised with the aim of providing professional skills equivalent to level one of the National Catalogue of Qualifications (CNCP) and with which once they pass their PCPI studies (ISCED3C) students may ask the Labour authorities for the accreditation of the correspondent Professional Certificate level 1 of the RNCP.

Initial vocational training Diplomas within the Education System comprises Intermediate and High Vocational Training Programmes named Ciclos formativos of around 2000 hours (two academic teaching years) in different sectors or areas aggregated in Professional Families (see Annex 3). In order to gain access to Intermediate VET Diploma (ISCED3B), as we has previously exposed, pupils must hold the Educación Secundaria Obligatoria Certificate (ISCED2A). On the other hand, to study advanced vocational training studies, it is necessary to hold the Bachillerato Certificate (ISCED 3A) the same as to have access to University studies.

VET in the National System for Employment

Two different vocational training modalities were in force until 2007: occupational training, targeting the unemployed people, and continuous training, targeting the employed. Both systems were integrated into a single subsystem of vocational training for employment in relation to the National System of Qualifications and Vocational Training.

It is a system based on the cooperation amongst the different authorities and combines state and regional levels with sector collective bargaining at national level, building a single frame of reference based on the agreement reached between the social partners and the government. This national subsystem has two main types of Vocational Training Programmes:

(a) programmes linked to the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications : Professional certificates

(b) programmes non-linked to the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications: General Use training, Special training needs, Specific training actions referred to companies, complementary training for VET support

Professional Certificates are the official accreditation in the National Subsystem of Vocational Training for Employment and are based on the structure of the professional qualifications of the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications (CNCP) acquired through formal learning processes, work experience or even non-formal training. It is expected that certificates levels will refer to the MECU (National Qualification Framework) Qualification levels and therefore the EQF once it is settled.

Permeability and openness of National Qualification and Vocational Training System

Formal Qualifications of both subsystems are government-regulated although by different Ministries and, in some instances, by other public authorities from the Autonomous Communities. The openness and flexibility of the system seeks to make easier the permeability and mobility between the different VET options. Within the framework of lifelong training and learning, the passage from training to employment and vice-versa allows young people having dropped out of education to continue and complete their studies, and adults to pursue their lifelong learning.

Recognition and accreditation of labour experience procedures

Increasing the recognition of non-formal and informal learning may also be considered as another regulatory measure for motivating VET learners. After the publication of Royal Decree 1224/2009 on the recognition of skills acquired through work experience, all Autonomous Communities, through their Education and Employment Departments, have published calls for the period 2010-2011.

There have been 41 public calls specifying concrete accreditation requirements, mainly in the professional families of health and social community services, for 43.308 posts related to specific groups of workers. So far, there have been accredited 3.108 people with a Professional Certificate or unit of competence (partial accreditation).

Dual training

A new dual model for VET programmes, either at the Education or Employment Systems, is being developed together with the existing IVET model (VET Diplomas or Professional Certificates). With the aim of increasing students access to VET, as well as supporting their transition into the labour market, different funding initiatives, like the Training and Apprenticeship Contract and other mixed co-funding systems between the Administrations and the enterprises, will be put in place to enable working while studying, and to have an accreditation based on the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications as reference.

Some Autonomous Community have already implemented dual training projects related to IVET Diplomas in which, unlike current VET design, students are able to gain work based practice at a real workplace during, and not at the end, of their training, as well as receiving a scholarship-salary for their work.