Change in VET in Spain thanks to the Organic Law for the Organisation and Integration of Vocational Education and Training

The publication of the Organic Law for the Organisation and Integration of Vocational Training marks the culmination of a process to make VET a lever of change for economic growth, which began in 2018. It is one of the milestones of the 2020 Plan for the modernisation of vocational education and training. It replaces the 2002 regulations and establishes a new VET model based on three main pillars: VET provision, validation of prior learning and vocational guidance.

A flexible and accessible VET offer

The new law establishes a single, modular and flexible offer of formal vocational training from a lifelong learning perspective. The government intends to resize the training offer, creating 135,000 new VET places by 2023 to meet current and future demand. Dedicated funding (253.99 million euros) is guaranteed by the national recovery and resilience mechanism.

The new VET system offers a range of training courses of different lengths and learning volumes ranging from small units or micro-training (Grade A), apprenticeship modules (Grade B) to VET programmes (Grades C and D) and specialisation courses (Grade E). This formal VET provision is cumulative, certifiable and accreditable, allowing VET learners, as well as workers and unemployed people, to design and progress along their own training pathways to meet their personal needs, expectations and abilities.

Royal Decree-Law 32/2021 modified the regulation of all labour contracts, including the previous “training and apprenticeship contract”, which can now have two modalities: alternating training contract, which can last between 3 months and 2 years, allowing several companies to participate in a contract for the same training programme; and training contract for obtaining professional practice appropriate to the level of studies, for VET graduates up to 3 years after receiving the diploma (5 years in the case of people with disabilities). It can last between 6 months and 1 year.

Other issues addressed by the new VET Law are: foreign language teaching, internationalisation of the vocational training system, enabling double degrees through international agreements and promoting bilingualism, encouraging participation in international innovation projects and partnerships for mobility experiences in another country during training.

Validation of prior learning

The new regulations reflect the new scenario established by Royal Decree 143/2021 on the recognition of prior learning acquired through work experience. It consolidates the 2021 reform, opening up a permanent procedure for the validation of professional competences acquired through non-formal and informal learning, and eliminating specific calls limited to certain units of competence. In addition, it advances new lines, such as addressing all existing units of competence, implementation through all vocational training centres; guaranteeing the necessary training offer to complement non-accredited competences; and encouraging the participation of companies in the accreditation of their workers’ competences.

Vocational guidance

This Act establishes a comprehensive vocational guidance system, defining its mission, objectives, aims and provisions: personalised support and counselling for learners (young and adult, employed or unemployed), enterprises, VET organisations and institutions; covering the whole spectrum of vocational training provision and competence validation processes for all types of qualification offered in the new VET system; assisting the match between existing competences and those demanded in the labour market; establishing training pathways for individuals to effectively acquire the desired vocational competences.