More than three million Spanish workers can validate their skills

A new procedure for the validation of non-formal and informal learning has been approved in 2021 to support people wishing to acquire a formal qualification.
A Royal Decree has recently been published which modifies the procedure for the validation of professional competences acquired through work experience; it offers a permanent procedure for their assessment, which affects all productive sectors, thus meeting a basic right of workers.

The main difference with the previous procedure is that, until now, the competent public authorities were in charge of deciding when and which qualifications to validate. The new regulation puts the initiative in the hands of individuals, who can at any time ask the public authorities to validate their qualifications.

This change has the potential to have a major impact on the workforce, as it puts an end to the limitations of the existing procedure through specific calls for applications for one or more qualifications, a procedure which, until now, has led to the accreditation of the skills of only 300,000 workers over the last 10 years.

The modification aims to contribute to the objective of the Vocational Training Modernisation Plan (2019-23), presented in July 2020, to validate the competences of more than three million people in four years, with an initial budget of almost 852.5 million euros. It should be borne in mind that almost half of the Spanish workforce (48%) has no formal recognition of their professional competences despite carrying out daily work activities using them, which affects their training and employment opportunities.

The National Catalogue of Professional Standards serves as a reference for all units of competence (unit of competence is the minimum unit of professional competences to be recognised and validated). The system will be cumulative, so that the beneficiary can complete training leading to a corresponding vocational qualification (VET diplomas) or a certificate of professionalism.
The process starts, as usual, with an initial assessment phase led by a guidance counsellor, who draws up a guidance report for the applicant. This is followed by the assessment phase, in which the report and the documentation provided by the applicant are analysed and the competences acquired on the job are assessed using a variety of methods. Finally, the results of the assessment are recorded in a state register.

To participate, candidates must have at least three years of work experience related to the competence they wish to validate, with a minimum of 2 000 hours of work in the 15 years preceding the submission of the application. For level I units of competence, which cover a narrow set of relatively simple work activities with limited theoretical knowledge and practical skills, two years of experience with a minimum of 1 200 hours worked is required.

Public institutions providing vocational training in the education system (VET qualifications), integrated vocational training centres (both VET qualifications and certificates of professionalism) and reference centres (which carry out innovative, experimental and training activities in the field of production, serving as a reference for the whole national system of VET qualifications and training programmes) are allowed to carry out the activities of the validation procedure.

This modification is in line with the employment strategies of the European Union aimed at the qualification of the active population in order to facilitate employability, mobility, social cohesion, equity and lifelong learning.