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Spain:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

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Overview Spain

Contents

Spain:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Spain:Historical Development

Spain:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Spain:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Spain:Political and Economic Situation

Spain:Organisation and Governance

Spain:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Spain:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Spain:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Spain:Organisation of Private Education

Spain:National Qualifications Framework

Spain:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Spain:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Spain:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Spain:Funding in Education

Spain:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Spain:Higher Education Funding

Spain:Adult Education and Training Funding

Spain:Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Organisation of Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Assessment in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Primary Education

Spain:Organisation of Primary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

Spain:Assessment in Primary Education

Spain:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

Spain:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Spain:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Vocational Lower Secondary Education: Basic Vocational Training cycles

Spain:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Spain:Higher Education

Spain:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Spain:First Cycle Programmes

Spain:Bachelor

Spain:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Spain:Second Cycle Programmes

Spain:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Spain:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Spain:Adult Education and Training

Spain:Distribution of Responsibilities

Spain:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Spain:Main Providers

Spain:Main Types of Provision

Spain:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Spain:Teachers and Education Staff

Spain:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Spain:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Spain:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Spain:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Management and Other Education Staff

Spain:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Spain:Management Staff for Higher Education

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Spain:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Quality Assurance

Spain:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Spain:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Educational Support and Guidance

Spain:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Spain:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Spain:Mobility and Internationalisation

Spain:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Mobility in Higher Education

Spain:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Spain:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Spain:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:National Reforms in School Education

Spain:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Spain:National Reforms in Higher Education

Spain:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Spain:European Perspective

Spain:Legislation

Spain:Institutions

Spain:Bibliography

Spain:Glossary

Contents

2016

Territorial Cooperation Programmes between the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport and the Departments for Education of the Autonomous Communities

The Cabinet approved the distribution between the Autonomous Communities of more than EUR 385 million for the development of measures and programmes to improve the education system.

The following programmes will be developed in vocational training until 31 December 2017, when the amounts allocated will expire:

PROGRAMMES
AMOUNT ALLOCATED
Programme for the financing of textbooks and didactic materials
EUR 24 000 000
Financing of the implementation of the new basic vocational training cycles
EUR 230 500 000
Financing of the development of quality actions in vocational training
EUR 11 500 000
Financing of dual vocational training actions
EUR 1 200 000

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice Spain-Spanish Network for Information on Education (National Centre for Educational Innovation and Research, Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport) on the basis of the Agreements adopted by the Cabinet on 9 December 2016.

Design of external evaluations at the end of compulsory secondary education and Bachillerato for adults

The basic characteristics of these tests were established in July in order to standardise their principles throughout the national territory.

There are some special features in the case of adult education students who want to sit these tests, either because they have already completed the studies or because they want to directly obtain the corresponding certificate:

  • students who have completed compulsory secondary education or Bachillerato for adults: they must have passed all the subjects of the stage in order to sit the tests. They also have to pass this test if they want to obtain the corresponding certificate. The structure of the tests is described in sections ‘Specific tests’ and ‘Global test’ of the Table
  • adults who want to directly obtain the Lower Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate or the Bachillerato certificate: the education authorities organise tests periodically to this end.

These tests will have the following characteristics:

Compulsory secondary education

Bachillerato

Participation requirements

Adults over 18 years of age

Adults over 20 years of age

Specific tests

Tests are organised in accordance with the structure based on areas established for adult education

Tests are organised according to subjects, depending on the different Bachillerato branches

Global test

Objective: assess the extent to which skills related to the corresponding option (academic or applied subjects) have been acquired, as final evaluation of compulsory secondary education

It comprises one or several complex problem-solving activities based on situations requiring the use of the different learning and skills acquired according to the corresponding option (academic or applied subjects)

Objective: assess the extent to which the relevant skills have been acquired, as final evaluation of Bachillerato

Grading

The final mark for compulsory secondary education will be the grade obtained in the tests:

  • 70% the average of the grades obtained in any of the exercises of the different areas
  • 30% the grade obtained in the global test assessing the extent to which skills have been acquired.

The final mark for Bachillerato will be the grade obtained in the tests:

  • 60% the average of the grades obtained in any of the subjects being examined
  • 40% the grade obtained in the global test assessing the extent to which skills have been acquired.

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice Spain-Spanish Network for Information on Education (National Centre for Educational Innovation and Research, Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport) on the basis of current regulations.

The education authorities may exempt candidates from taking some of the tests considering the formal training accredited. In any case, candidates must pass the global test assessing the extent to which the relevant skills have been acquired.

The education authorities ensure that measures to guarantee equal opportunity, non-discrimination and universal accessibility for disabled people who sit these tests are taken.

2015

Expenditure on education policy in 2015

The State Budget for 2015 was approved in December 2014. The expenditure on education policy in 2015 amounts to EUR 2 272.86 million, a 4.5% more as compared to 2014.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, in collaboration with the Autonomous Communities, and under the policy of containing public spending, intends to concentrate available financial resources on programmes which are strategic for the education system.

Vocational training, secondary education and official language schools Budget Programme

For 2015, this Programme’s allocation amounts to EUR 237.35 million, a 135.2% more than in 2014.

The funding targets of vocational training are the following:

  • implementation of the new basic vocational training qualifications throughout the Spanish territory
  • development of academic organisation regulations
  • reinforcement of the procedure for the recognition of professional competences acquired through work experience
  • development of the dual vocational training model
  • development of an integrated vocational information and guidance system
  • quality assurance, evaluation and monitoring of vocational training through the Quality Assurance Reference Framework and the implementation of the Spanish Quality Network.
  • establishment of the framework and European dimnsion of vocational training
  • programming of other types of provision in order to facilitate lifelong learning. 

Public funds are not only allocated to public educational institutions offering the different types of provision regulated by the education system; on the contrary, private ones may also benefit from public financing by means of agreements with the education authorities or grants and financial support for students of the different educational stages.

The budget for the programme of grants and financial support for students is EUR 1 469.60 million. This programme provides for, among others, general grants and financial support for university and non-university education, including grants and financial support for vocational training, with an allocation of EUR 1 413.52 million.

Other types of provision and educational activities Budget Programme, including adult education

In 2015, this item amounts to EUR 77.66 million, a 46.2% more than in 2014.

Adult education funding targets are:

  • extend and complete the territorial network of public adult education institutions, as well as public distance education provision in the Autonomous Cities of Ceuta and Melilla
  • extend and complete public distance education provision through the Centre for the Innovation and Development of Adult Education
  • extend and complete non-formal distance education provision through Aula Mentor
  • extend and disseminate lifelong learning
  • encourage initiatives aimed at achieving the European objectives for the 2014-2018 period.

Spain’s priorities regarding European Funds

The programming of structural funds for the 2014-2020 period is already in its final stages of approval. Spain will allocate from the European Social Fund 10th Thematic Objective, ‘Invest in education, training and vocational training for the acquisition of skills and lifelong learning’:

  • EUR 389 million to the implementation of the new cycles of basic vocational training
  • EUR 50 million to the improvement of the quality of vocational training
  • EUR 38 million to the evaluation and accreditation of professional competences
  • EUR 3.2 million to the promotion of dual vocational training.

Implementation of the Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education (2013), modifying the Education Act (2006), in vocational training

The main aims of the educational reform are to:

  • reduce early school leaving in education and training
  • improve the educational results according to international criteria, regarding both the comparative rate of excellent students and the rate of students holding the Lower Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate
  • improve employability
  • stimulate the students’ entrepreneurial spirit.

The principles around which the reform is built are the increase of the rationalisation of the education provision and the increase in the flexibility of pathways, among other aspects.

The new Act is inspired by the growth challenges posed by the Strategy Europe 2020, the framework of European cooperation in the field of education and training and the OECD’s Indicators of Education, whose aim is to increase the percentage of young people who graduate from upper secondary education.

Since 2012, the National Programmes of Reforms have announced several reforms that followed these international recommendations, in fields such as non-university education and promotion of vocational training of the education system.

(2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education, modifying the 2006 Education Act).

Reform of intermediate vocational training

The number of vocational training students between the 2007/08 and 2013/14 academic years has increased by 50.62%. However, in the 2013/14 academic year, out of the 969 715 post-compulsory secondary education students, 65.94% studied Bachillerato, as opposed to the 330 212 students who chose intermediate vocational training, a 34.06 %.

The Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education states that the small number of students in vocational training in Spain inevitably affects employability and the competitiveness of the economy, and limits the life options of many young people. This is why the following strategic objectives are set for the reform:

  • modernisation of this type of provision
  • adaptation to the requirements of the different productive sectors
  • involvement of companies in the training process
  • development of flexible ways of having access to the different training cycles.

The aim of vocational training of the education system is to prepare students to work in a professional field and facilitate their adaptation to possible future changes in the labour market, as well as contribute to their progression through the education system, the system of vocational training for employment and lifelong learning.

Its educational provision comprises basic, intermediate and advanced vocational training cycles. They are made up of modules, varying in length, which include theoretical and practical contents, of both instrumental subjects and vocational modules, corresponding to the different professional fields.

Measures for the correspondence, through accredited competence units, between the certificates of professional experience and vocational training qualifications have not been regulated yet.

Among others, the following objectives of vocational training are worth noting: 

  • develop a professional identity that encourages future learning and adaptation to the evolution of productive processes and social change
  • consolidate an entrepreneurial spirit to carry out business activities and initiatives
  • prepare students for their progression through the education system
  • develop the skills that are specific to each vocational training qualification and understand the organisation and characteristics of the corresponding productive sector, as well as the mechanisms for professional integration.

Intermediate vocational training cycles contribute to the upgrade of basic education skills, adapting them to a professional field or sector. It includes a series of voluntary subjects which facilitate students’ transition to other types of provision:

  • Communication in Spanish
  • Communication in a Foreign Language
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Communication in a Co-Official Language, if appropriate 
  • other voluntary subjects related to the relevant professional field or sector for students to be able to progress to advanced vocational training cycles might also be offered.

In both cases, these subjects are not part of the curriculum of the training cycles and can be classroom-based or distance.

It is worth mentioning the modification of the certificates required to access advanced vocational training cycles:

  • Bachillerato certificate.
  • IntermediateTechnician certificate
  • Advanced Technician certificate
  • university degree
  • a certificate confirming that the holder has passed all the subjects in Bachillerato
  • passing an access examination and being 19 years old (or older) the year of said examination.

The curriculum of all vocational training cycles includes practical training (on-the-job experience), from which students may be totally or partially exempt if they provide evidence of professional experience (one year minimum) relevant to the professional studies completed. The reform of vocational training envisages the promotion of student mobility, leading to an annual increase of 3% in the number of students who complete their work placement in an EU country.

The reforms established in the Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education will be gradually implemented.

Calendar for implementation of the Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education

School year

Stage of education/Type of provision

Years

Elements

2015/16

Basic vocational training cycles

2nd(1)

 

Intermediate vocational training

 

Curriculum

2016/17

All other types of provision regulated by the Act (including advanced vocational training)

 

Conditions for access and admission

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice Spain-Spanish Network for Information on Education (National Centre for Educational Innovation and Research, Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport) on the basis of the Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education.

(1) During the 2015/16 and 2016/17 academic years, students who have been awarded the Basic Vocational Training Certificate may also obtain the Lower Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate, provided that the teaching team considers that they have achieved the objectives of compulsory secondary education and acquired the relevant skills in the final evaluation of the training cycle. The final mark for compulsory secondary education will be the average of the grades obtained in the vocational modules associated to common areas. It is a temporary measure until the external evaluation at the end of compulsory secondary education is implemented.

Financing of the new pathways in compulsory secondary education and the new basic vocational training cycles

In September, the Cabinet approved the criteria for the territorial distribution of the funds for the implementation of the new pathways in compulsory secondary education and the new basic vocational training cycles. The amounts are the following:

AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY

AMOUNT IN 2015 (in EUR)

Andalusia

27 926 352.20

Aragon

3 858 706.74

Asturias

1 227 305.86

Balearic Islands

3 541 219.96

Canary Islands

6 782 911.81

Cantabria

1 773 217.29

Castile-La Mancha

9 443 513.54

Castile-Leon

9 040 787.99

Catalonia

13 096 561.07

Valencia

17 501 865.12

Extremadura

4 551 274.41

Galicia

7 224 884.73

Madrid

17 276 620.36

Murcia

6 838 520.26

Navarre

1 804 688.19

Basque Country

7 420 607.67

Rioja

1 687 452.96

TOTAL

141 026 220.16

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice Spain-Spanish Network for Information on Education (National Centre for Educational Innovation and Research, Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport) on the basis of the Cabinet’s Reference.

Financial support for the purchase of textbooks and didactic materials

In November, the Cabinet approved the formalisation of the distribution criteria and the resulting economic distribution among the Autonomous Communities for the purchase of textbooks and didactic materials for families, with a total of EUR 24 million.

The objective is to facilitate the purchase of textbooks and all types of didactic materials, including those in digital form, in the stages of primary education, compulsory secondary education, Bachillerato and vocational training.

They are targeted at families in economically disadvantaged circumstances, paying special attention to large families with 3 or more children.

The resulting distribution, according to Autonomous Community, is the following:

AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY

AMOUNT IN 2015 (in EUR)

Andalusia

7 332 551.02

Aragon

479 885.79

Asturias

308 087.98

Balearic Islands

427 693.37

Canary Islands

1 391 011.03

Cantabria

251 001.33

Castile-La Mancha

1 419 551.05

Castile-Leon

1 003 247.57

Catalonia

2 728 554.30

Valencia

2 984 662.86

Extremadura

853 352.87

Madrid

2 242 549.51

Murcia

1 488 803.93

Navarre

178 214.11

Rioja

114 835.05

TOTAL

24 000 000.00

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice Spain-Spanish Network for Information on Education (National Centre for Educational Innovation and Research, Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport) on the basis of the Cabinet’s Reference.

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, within the scope of its powers, allocates EUR 3 million for the same purpose in the Autonomous Cities of Ceuta and Melilla in 2015 and 2016.

Consideration of teachers as public authority and enactment of criminal sanctions for acts against public education officials

Members of the management team and teachers in public educational institutions are considered as a public authority. This implies:

  • regarding the procedures for the adoption of corrective measures, the facts noted by teachers and members of the management team in educational institutions have probative value and enjoy rebuttable presumption of veridity, unless proven otherwise, without prejudice to evidence produced by students themselves in defence of their rights or interests.
  • teachers in public educational institutions, by virtue of their status as public officials, may seek protection under the latest reform of the Criminal Code, which entered into force on 1 July of that year. The reform introduces changes in the areas of acts of resistance, disobedience and attacks on public authorities, their agents and public officials. This reform considers as an attack any attack, assault or resistance, with serious intimidation or violence, to the authority of education officials, in the course of or in connection with the performance of their duties. These attacks can be sanctioned with prison sentences ranging from 1 to 4 years and penalised with fines from 3 to 6 months, if it is an attack against authority, and with prison sentences from 3 to 6 months in the rest of the cases. A more severe penalty may be imposed in the event that:
  1. weapons or other dangerous objects are used
  2. the act of violence is potentially dangerous to people’s lives or may cause serious injury. More specifically, the throwing of hard objects or flammable liquids and fire, among others
  3. a motor vehicle is used to attack the authority, agent or public official.

(2013 Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education, modifying the 2006 Education Act).

2015-2017 Comprehensive Plan to Support Families

This new project includes all policies and actions aimed at families for the 2015-2017 period and has a budget estimate of EUR 5 400 million for the first financial period. The 7 strategic lines that are the framework for the 227 measures of the Plan aim at achieving its 10 general objectives.

Although the general objectives of the Plan are not formulated in educational terms, the 3rd strategic line, ‘Support for motherhood and favourable environment for family life’, includes measures to facilitate the training of pregnant minors who study vocational training, such as temporarily adapting these studies so that maternity does not become an obstacle to continue studying.

2014

Implementation of the Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education (2013), modifying the Education Act (2006), in vocational training

Although it was published in the Spanish Official Gazette of 10/12/2013, its implementation began the academic year 2014/15 with the establishment and implementation of the new basic vocational training cycles.

Establishment and implementation of the new basic vocational training

Basic vocational training ensures the acquisition of lifelong learning skills through a provision organised into the following content units: 

  • Communication and Social Sciences:
  1. Spanish Language
  2. Foreign Language
  3. Social Sciences
  4. Co-Official Language, if appropriate.
  • Applied Sciences:
  1. Mathematics Applied to the Personal and Learning Context in a Professional Field
  2. Science Applied to the Personal and Learning Context in a Professional Field.

Training cycles have a two-year duration, although students may complete them in a maximum of four years. Tutoring and educational and vocational guidance are particularly relevant.

The specific aspects of basic vocational training were regulated in February. In June and September, the curricula for 14 vocational training cycles were approved. The 1st year of this new type of vocational training provision is being implemented this academic year 2014/15.

For more information, see Vocational lower secondary education: Basic vocational training cycles.

Bridges between training paths

The educational reform under way provides the existing pathways with greater permeability, building bridges between all training paths and within them, so that none of students’ decisions is irreversible:  

Conditions for access to the cycles of vocational training of the education system

Basic vocational training

(both conditions have to be simultaneously met)

  • be or turn 15 within the current calendar year, and not older than 17 at the time of access or during the current calendar year
  • have completed the first cycle of compulsory secondary education (first three years) but not be ready for progression to the 4th year or, exceptionally, have completed the 2nd year of compulsory secondary education.

Intermediate vocational training

(at least one of the conditions has to be met)

  • hold one of the following certificates: the Lower Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate, after having passed the final test in the applied subjects option; the Basic Vocational Training Certificate; the Bachillerato certificate; a university degree; a Technician certificate; or an Advanced Technician certificate
  • hold a certificate proving that all the subjects of Bachillerato have been passed
  • have completed a specific training course in order to gain access to intermediate vocational training authorised by the education administration and be 17 at the end of the academic year 
  • have passed an entrance examination and be 17 in the year the test is taken.

Where the demand for places exceeds the number of places the institution has available, they will be allocated according to an admission procedure regulated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. For more information, see Pupil admission and choice of institution.

Advanced vocational training

(at least one of the conditions has to be met)

  • have gone through the admission procedure established and hold one of the following certificates: the Bachillerato certificate; a university degree; a Technician or Advanced Technician certificate; or a certificate proving that all the subjects of Bachillerato have been passed
  • have passed an entrance examination and be 19 in the year the test is taken.

Where the demand for places exceeds the number of places the institution has available, they will be allocated according to an admission procedure regulated by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. For more information, see Admission requirements.

Source: Drawn up by Eurydice Spain-Spanish Network for Information on Education (National Centre for Educational Innovation and Research, Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport) on the basis of the Act on the Improvement of the Quality of Education. 

  • people over 22 who have accredited basic vocational training competence units, through either Level 1 certificates of professional experience or the established evaluation and accreditation procedure, are awarded the Basic Vocational Training Certificate by the education authorities
  • students holding the Basic Vocational Training Certificate may obtain the Lower Compulsory Secondary Education Certificate by sitting the final test at the end of compulsory secondary education in any of its two options, relating to the subjects from the set of core subjects. The final mark for compulsory secondary education will be the grade obtained in the test
  • students holding a Technician or Advanced Technician certificate may obtain the Bachillerato Certificate by sitting the final test at the end of Bachillerato, relating to the subjects from the set of core subjects of the branch or option chosen. The final mark for Bachillerato will be the grade obtained in the test
  • students who do not pass vocational training cycles receive an academic certificate for the modules, units or subjects passed, which has academic validity and provides partial accreditation of the professional competences acquired in relation to the National System of Qualifications and Vocational Training
  • students aged 18 may sit the examinations established by the education authorities in order to directly obtain the Technician or Basic Vocational Training certificates
  • those aged 20, or 19 if they hold the Technician certificate, may sit the examinations to directly obtain the Advanced Technician certificate.

The reform of vocational training of the education system will be completed by a series of measures aimed at increasing flexibility in access, equivalence and validation, and mutual recognition between different studies:

  • the award of the Basic Vocational Technician certificate, for students aged over 17, through training programmes, irrespective of the possibility to complete basic vocational training for those who had already started the studies
  • access from basic to intermediate vocational training, and from intermediate to advanced vocational training. In the latter case, provided students have taken and successfully completed the voluntary subjects related to the relevant field or professional sector
  • correspondence between the certificates of professional experience and vocational training qualifications through accredited competence units
  • mutual recognition between Bachillerato and intermediate vocational training cycles, intermediate Plastic Arts and Design studies, and intermediate Sports education, so that studies that have been successfully completed can be taken into account, even if the corresponding qualification has not been awarded
  • validation and equivalence between vocational modules of vocational training of the education system (in the process of being approved)
  • procedures for admission to official Bachelor programmes for students holding a Vocational Training Advanced Technician certificate.

The changes introduced in the conditions for admission to this type of provision will not enter into force until the 2016/17 academic year.

Vocational information and guidance

The purpose of vocational information and guidance was formulated in 2002: 

  • inform about opportunities for access to employment, and possibilities regarding the acquisition, evaluation and accreditation of professional competences and qualifications, and how to make further progress in them throughout life
  • provide information and advice on the different training options and possible training pathways in order to facilitate integration and reintegration into the labour market, as well as professional mobility.

Since then, the education and employment authorities, the local administration and social agents participate in the organisation of the services, with the State General Administration responsible for the cooperation and coordination between all the entities involved. They have to:

  1. offer information to students, families, unemployed and employed workers and society at large
  2. make available to social partners information on the system which can serve as a reference in collective bargaining, without prejudice to the autonomy of the parties.

In the education system, the educational reform under way proposes:

  • a reorganisation of its structure in the transition from compulsory secondary education to post-compulsory secondary education (Bachillerato and vocational training), by bringing forward by a year (3rd year of the stage) the choice of pathway
  • facilitating continuity between intermediate and advanced vocational training cycles through certain voluntary subjects that are related to the relevant professional field or sector, and whose successful completion will facilitate admission into these cycles, as laid down by regulation.

This is why special attention is paid to the improvement of access to information and guidance services for students at this stage who are about to choose their pathway.

The Ministry of Employment and Social Security annually announces its Annual Employment Policy Plan, which includes the actions and measures of active employment policies to be implemented by the Autonomous Communities and the State Public Employment Service in order to ensure that the information and guidance resources allocated to facilitate the integration of unemployed people into the labour market are effectively and efficiently used. For more information, see Reforms related to transversal skills and employability.

Among all the actions included, the creation of the Employment and Self-Employment Portal EMPLÉATE, which provides information on the main sources of employment for young people who are studying, so that it helps them choose between different training pathways, should be emphasised. Besides, they can benefit from a personalised and updatable digital record containing all the information needed to facilitate their entry into the labour market, as well as from a virtual assistant helping them to determine and optimise their employability.

This Single Portal hosts useful information to guide young people and provide them with all the necessary tools to facilitate their job search or the start of a business activity, in coordination with the Single Business Window.

2014-2016 Strategic Lifelong Learning Plan

The design of this Plan results from cooperation between the Autonomous Communities and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.

Its main objective is to promote the lifelong learning of Spanish citizens, as well as to contribute to the achievement of the goals established by the Strategic Framework for Cooperation in Education and Training (ET 2020).  In order to achieve these goals, the following is necessary:

  • modernise education and training systems
  • use a methodology that responds to adults’ abilities, needs and interests
  • allow greater flexibility and adapt formal and non-formal and classroom-based and distance provision, and establish links between both
  • the accreditation of learning and the recognition of the skills acquired.

The Plan establishes some strategic lines that determine the priority action areas on which the action plans of the Autonomous Communities, and any other organisation agreeing to participate, should focus:

  1. provide widespread access to information and guidance so that all citizens can participate in lifelong training
  2. improve the quality of lifelong learning
  3. promote innovation in lifelong learning
  4. adapt training provision to the personal, social and labour needs of citizens
  5. allow greater flexibility and establish connections between training systems and pathways
  6. increase the percentage of citizens participating in lifelong learning activities, as well as their qualification levels
  7. stimulate the permanence of citizens in the different training programmes. 

The Strategic Lifelong Learning Plan provides a common framework for the education authorities to develop their own specific territorial plans, which can be annual or biennial and will be drawn up in October.

Spain’s priorities regarding European funds

The 2014-2020 Common Strategic Framework in the context of the Europe 2020 Strategy has a fundamental principle for its programming: prioritise investment co-financed with funds in a smaller number of priorities, depending on the development level of the different regions and the European Structural and Investment Funds.

The new architecture of the European Social Fund (ESF) for the 2014-2020 programming period was reported in December 2013. Taking into account both territorial organisation and the distribution of powers, the ESF will act through national and regional operational programmes throughout the period.

Within national operational programmes, there is the Employment, Training and Education Operational Programme, with a budget of EUR 2 130 030 502. Its third major axis, ‘Investing in education, training and vocational training for the acquisition of skills and lifelong learning’, intends to fund actions aimed at reducing early school leaving in education and training with measures such as individualised attention, the flexibility of pathways and the modernisation of vocational training.

Measures strengthening ties between the education and training systems and the labour market, such as the development of dual vocational training, the development of the National System of Qualifications and Vocational Training and the evaluation and accreditation of professional competences, among others, will be supported.

Grants and financial support in non-university post-compulsory education. 2014/15 academic year

Since 2012, grants and financial support in post-compulsory education have become an essential element of the right to education, which is based on a double principle:

  • compensation of unfavourable socio-economic conditions
  • award on the basis of student progress and performance.

In October, it was announced that priority would be given to grants for students in this level of education, ensuring that any student who meets the relevant academic and economic requirements is eligible for financial aid.

In June 2014, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport established the grants and financial support for the 2014/15 academic year, consolidating the system implemented in 2012/13:

  • Bachillerato and intermediate vocational training students have to enroll for a year or in, at least, half of the modules of the cycle
  • the grant is not awarded to students who repeat part or all of a year, and they must have passed all the subjects or modules of the previous year
  • advanced vocational training students can receive a grant in the 2nd year provided they have passed 80% of the modules in which they were enrolled in 2011/12, which is equivalent to 500 hours.

That same year, the thresholds of family income and assets above which students are not eligible were set and some changes were introduced, such as the new regulation of grant components for distance education students or the adjustment of the percentage of credits students need to complete to consider the grant or financial support was used for the purpose it was awarded.

In this regard, use the grant or financial support for the purpose it was awarded is understood as enrolment, class attendance, sitting of examinations, payment of the corresponding expenses, and completion of the relevant placement. Beneficiaries must complete, at least, 50% of the credits or subjects they took. Failure to comply with this last obligation will result in the repayment of all grant components, with the exception of the enrolment grant.

This academic year 2014/15, students of the new basic vocational training can also be applicants. Students of Initial Vocational Qualification Programmes, in the process of disappearing, may also apply:

  • they have to enrol for the whole year, without prejudice to validations and exemptions
  • the grant is not awarded to students who are repeating the year. In the case of students doing so, they must have passed all the modules of the previous years in order to meet the academic requirement
  • the duration of grants is one or two years, depending on the model of the programme in which they are enrolled.

In the case of students taking preparation courses for the entrance examination for vocational training cycles, the grant can be awarded only once. They may receive the basic grant and the minimum varying amount.