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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
National reforms in vocational education and training and adult learning


14.Ongoing reforms and policy developments

14.3National reforms in vocational education and training and adult learning

Last update: 14 February 2024


New Royal Decree of organization of the Vocational Training System

In July 2023, Royal Decree 659/2023, which develops the organization of the Vocational Training System, was issued. This regulation eliminates barriers to help students decide on taking their studies when they consider it appropriate, and adapt their training to their own work or life needs. The regulation will also allow for a wider offering; more than 9 000 training courses of very different durations and typologies, structured into degrees. From "micro-trainings" (grade A) to vocational training degrees and specialization courses or masters of Vocational Training (grades D and E, respectively). All of them will be part of modules with validity and official recognition within the vocational education system and will be certifiable. In addition, it contemplates the design of integrated itineraries in which cycles of different degrees and international double degree offers can be combined.

This Royal Decree ensures the dual nature of all Vocational Education with training at schools and at a company in periods of higher quality and longer duration. The functions of the dual school tutor and the dual company tutor are established.

The regulation also expedites the accreditation of professional skills acquired through non-formal means. It will also help the autonomous communities, trade unions and business organizations to work together with the Ministry to propose new necessary qualifications in the territories or in the production network.

Other relevant aspects that this RD introduces:

  • It establishes a professional guidance strategy and promotes internationalization and joint work between teachers, schools and students with other countries.
  • It includes new modules in all intermediate and advanced degree cycles that address key aspects for the current economy such as digitalization, sustainability, technical English or employability.
  • It establishes a new model of specialized and comprehensive school with training offering for both young people and workers, with several new figures such as head of innovation, head of internationalization or coordinator of the professional guidance service.
  • It incorporates other new profiles into the vocational education system such as business experts, who will be given teaching permission; senior business experts, who may join the teaching teams; and business prospectors, who will facilitate contact between the school and surrounding companies.

Network of Digital Training Schools and Classrooms

In June 2023, the Education Sector Conference Agreement was issued. The purpose of this Agreement is to create a Network of Digital Training Schools/Classrooms and has a budget of more than 29 million euros. The foundation of this network is a measure to bring the training offering closer to all citizens through those schools and will allow to make an attractive offering of digital training, due to their proximity and ease of access, with special attention to the most vulnerable sectors of the population.

The Network of Digital Training Schools and Classrooms will allow citizens to train in cross-disciplinary digital skills necessary to function on a daily basis in an increasingly digitalized society, in which essential services such as banking, access to public administrations or consumption is done electronically, de facto excluding a sector of the population that, either due to their age, their low level of studies, or their vulnerability, lacks the necessary digital skills, placing them at a clear disadvantage compared to the general population and significantly worsening their quality of life. These schools will offer training opportunities regardless of people's place of residence or previous studies and, therefore, facilitating access to generalized training compatible with the obligations derived from different personal, work or social conditions. The preferential target audience will be people over 55 years of age with a low level of qualifications, paying special attention to the gender gap, which is very pronounced in this age range. However, the training actions carried out in these schools may also reach other groups of the general population, provided that they are outside the educational and training system, and that they can improve their quality of life through the acquisition of basic digital skills.

Vocational Education Modernization Plan

In June, the proposal for regional share and distribution criteria for the Vocational Education Modernization Plan was issued. This proposal has a budget of more than 273 million euros, charged to the budget of the Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sports for 2023, and is set in the framework of Component 20 “Strategic Plan to Promote Vocational Education”, of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan (PRTR).

The mission of the plan is to create an ecosystem of economic relaunch from the commitment to human capital and talent, and to guarantee professional training and qualification for the entire population, from students of the Vocational Education system to the labour force. The proposal is to turn Vocational Education into a lever for reconstruction through three steps:

  1. Recognition and accreditation of professional skills.
  2. Improvement of accessibility to Vocational Education and professional guidance services.
  3. Incorporation of digitization, innovation and entrepreneurship into the Vocational Education system.

In order to comply with the purpose of the Vocational Education Modernization Plan, the Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sports has defined the following actions:

  • Action 1: Evaluation and certification of the skills acquired through work experience and non-formal training routes.
  • Action 2: Conversion of classrooms into applied technology spaces.
  • Action 3: Entrepreneurship classrooms in Vocational Education.
  • Action 4: Creation of bilingual training cycles for intermediate and advanced levels and specialization courses.

Scholarships and study aids for the course 2023-2024

The budget of scholarships and study grants has reached its historical maximum for the next year. In particular, EUR 2 520 million will be allocated to scholarships and study grants. It is the fifth consecutive year that has increased its funding. Since 2018, the budget has increased by 70 %.

All information on requirements, deadlines, amounts and procedures to be eligible for these scholarships and grants are available on the scholarship website of the MEFD and the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities. The goal is to centralise information and make it more accessible. The deadline to apply for general scholarships begins on March 27 and ends on May 17.

In addition, in this new call there is a universal aid of EUR 400 for students of non-university education levels who demonstrate a disability of at least 33%, serious behavior, communication or language disorder or the autism spectrum, in order to cover the additional costs that their families must face. In this case, the minister has estimated that the aid will benefit more than 214 000 students.


Establishment of the national network of vocational training centres of excellence

In July 2022, Order EFP/717/2022 was published. This order, in the framework of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, establishes the national network of vocational training centres of excellence, setting up the regulatory bases which will grant the financial support for its implementation and development. The order also opens the proceeding to applications in 2022.

New Spanish Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning

In May 2022, Royal Decree 272/2022 was published. The Royal Decree establishes the Spanish Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning (MECU) and the description of the levels not included (with the exception of level 5A) in the Spanish Qualifications Framework for Higher Education (MECES), regulated in Royal Decree 1027/2011.

The purpose of this framework is to complete and integrate the general framework of Spanish qualifications, aimed at directing the classification, comparability and transparency of officially accredited qualifications.

Included in this framework are official degrees and certifications of the Spanish education system, as well as the certificates of professionalism in the field of Vocational Training for Employment standardised in current regulations.

The Spanish Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning is an internationally recognized mechanism that, through self-certification, guides the balanced levelling of qualifications for their classification, connection and comparability. I also serves to facilitate the mobility of people in the European space and in the international labour market.

New organization and integration of vocational training law

In April 2022, Law 3/2022 took effect. The purpose of this law is to establish and organize a single and integrated system of vocational training. The law will regulate a professional training and support system that will be capable of responding flexibly to the interests, expectations and the requirements for professional qualification of people throughout their lives; and to the competencies demanded by the new productivity and sectorial needs in order to increase productivity and job creation, all while serving the strengthening, competitiveness and sustainability of the Spanish economy. This information is also available in an informative dossier and promotional video.

In addition, this law ensures that any measures and actions that are programmed and developed within the framework of the Vocational Training System must respond to the purpose it serves, with the flexibility required by the generation of versatile training and professional itineraries.

The text has been the result of an intense participation process that began at the end of 2020. It has received contributions from the business sector, the autonomous communities, other ministerial departments, social representatives, numerous associations and entities, and also from citizens. In addition, it has received favourable reports from the State School Council, the Economic and Social Council, the General Vocational Training Council, Sectoral Conferences and the State Council.

Evaluation, promotion, and certification new regulation

In November 2021, the Royal Decree 986/2021 was published, in which the evaluation, promotion and certification of the different educational stages were regulated, including vocational training and adult education.

This decree arises from the need to regulate evaluation, promotion and certification in the transitional period until the new curricula come into force. Therefore, it will be in force exclusively for the 2021/2022 school year and, only for even courses, in the 2022/2023 school year. As of 1 September 2022, the new curricula will begin to be applied in odd courses and the evaluation, promotion and qualification will be regulated by the royal decrees of the different educational stages.

  • Basic vocational training: the evaluation of the learning process of students will be continuous, formative and comprehensive. The teaching staff will take collective decisions along the evaluation process and the adoption of the resulting decisions, taking into account pedagogic criteria. The reference point in the evaluation of the students learning process and certification will be the learning results, and the professional, personal and social competences of each module. Successful completion of all the modules included in a basic vocational training cycle will lead to obtaining the certificate of Graduate in Compulsory Secondary Education.
  • Obtaining Bachillerato certificate with the Technician in Vocational Training or Arts Qualification: students with this qualification may obtain the Bachillerato certificate after passing the following subjects: Philosophy; History of Spain; Spanish Language and Literature I and II; Co-Official language and Literature, if any; First Foreign Language I and II; and two of the subjects of the corresponding bachillerato area.
  • Intermediate vocational training: the evaluation of students learning will be carried out by professional modules, always taking into account the global nature of the cycle. Passing an intermediate level training cycle will require a positive evaluation in all the professional modules that comprise it.
  • Adult education:
    • Basic education: overcoming all the areas of knowledge of these studies will give the right to obtain the certificate of Graduate in Compulsory Secondary Education. Likewise, the board of teachers may propose for the issuance of said title those people who, even having not passed any of the areas, are considered to have globally achieved the general objectives of the basic training of adults.
    • Bachillerato: the students who attend bachillerato for adults will obtain the certification provided they have obtained a positive evaluation in all the subjects, or in all the subjects except one.

Equivalences of previous qualifications to the current education system in order to access vocational training education

The new legislation establishes as equivalents to access formative cycles of superior vocational training:

  • Bachillerato’s qualification regulated by the Education Act 2/2006;
  • Bachillerato Unified Polyvalent (BUP) regulated by Act 14/1970, 4 of August, General Education and Financing of Education Reform.

Relaxation of the requirements to provide vocational training

The purpose of Royal Decree 62/2022 is to relax the requirements to provide professional training offers leading to obtaining vocational training qualifications, professional certificates and other formative offers linked to the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications. Likewise, it aims to advance in the expansion and flexibility of the vocational training offer.

This norm applies to high schools, both public and private, duly authorized, which offer vocational training qualifications, professional certificates and other formative offers related to the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications. In this respect, it complements and expands the assumptions provided for in Royal Decrees 34/2008 and 1147/2011 as requirements for the offer of vocational training.


Draft Law on the Organization and Integration of Vocational Training

In September 2021, the Council of Ministers approved the draft Law on the Organization and Integration of Vocational Training. In this last quarter of the year, its parliamentary proceedings will be carried out in both houses, Congress and Senate.

The text consolidates Vocational Training in a single system at the service of students and employed or unemployed workers. This new system will integrate the VET of the educational system and the VET for employment.

The future Law will establish a unique, modular and flexible provision of Vocational Training aimed for the first time at students and workers (both employed and unemployed). It will be organized in training itineraries that allow progression through five ascending degrees: partial accreditation of competences (Grade A), Certificate of Professional Competence (Grade B), Professional Certificate (Grade C), Training Cycles (Grade D) and Specialization Courses (Grade E).

The entire offer in cycles of Grades C, D and E will have a dual character and will be divided into two types:

  • General Dual Vocational Training;
  • Advanced Dual Vocational Training.

Regarding the accreditation of competencies, the new text also streamlines the system of accreditation of professional competencies acquired through work experience and non-formal training channels.

The draft Vocational Training Law regulates the relationship between Vocational Training and university education, promoting mutual recognition, such as higher education credits, to facilitate the establishment of training itineraries that recognize previously acquired training in both directions.

The draft law creates new management instruments for the new Vocational Training system:

  • State Registry of Professional Training, which will allow any citizen to access it and obtain an updated training-professional life report with their training experience.
  • Modular Catalogue of Professional Training, which will determine the professional modules linked to each of the competence standards.
  • Catalogue of Professional Training Provision, which will determine the set of available training actions.
  • Catalogue of Professional Competence Standards, which replaces the current National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications.

Likewise, other aspects that the draft law establishes are:

  • the development of a general strategy for professional guidance within the framework of Vocational Training;
  • the obligation for all centres to be registered in the State Register of Non-University Teaching Centres or in the Register of Professional Training Entities;
  • the creation of a new body of specialist teachers in unique sectors of Vocational Training, which may be accessed by advanced vocational training technicians in certain specialties.
  • the internationalization of vocational training through participation in international projects, in training projects between Spanish and foreign centres, as well as the mobility of students and teachers between centres in different countries.

Scholarships and study aid for the 2021/2022 school year

The budget for scholarships and study aid has increased by more than 128 million, to 2 038 million euros, in part to include the entry of new beneficiaries as a result of the crisis derived from the Covid-19 pandemic. It is the third consecutive year that its funding has increased. Since 2018, the budget has increased by 39.6% and the number of beneficiaries by 24.5%.

In the case of the general call for scholarships, the application submission deadlines are until September 30, 2021, inclusive, in the case of scholarships for non-university students.

All information on requirements, deadlines, amounts and procedures to be eligible for these scholarships and grants are available on the scholarship website of the Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sports (MEFD) and the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities. The goal is to centralize the information and make it more accessible.

According to the estimations of the MEFD and the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, some 850 000 students will benefit from this call for general scholarships: 390 000 of them from university education and 460 000 from non-university education.

Strategic Plan for subsidies by the Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sports (MEFD) 2021/2023

Last May 2021, the Minister of Education, Vocational Training and Sports (MEFD) approved the Strategic Plan for Subsidies 2021-2023, with the aim of helping the planning, execution and monitoring of the subsidies managed by the Ministry. This plan seeks to carry out a more effective, efficient, and transparent management. This plan consists of 8 strategic objectives, of which the following have an impact on vocational training education:

  • Strategic objective 2: promote permanent training and mobility of teachers with subsides for courses and teacher training.
  • Strategic objective 3: improve the quality of the education provision in Secondary Education and Vocational Training. Subsides will go, among other things, for awards for quality and innovation in guidance and Vocational Training, incentives for centres to participate in internationalization programmes, awards for Dual Vocational Training projects …
  • Strategic objective 4: guarantee educational inclusion and quality education for all students by subsidizing to private non-profit entities for the performance of actions aimed at students needing special educational support, and compensation for inequalities in education.
  • Strategic objective 5: guarantee equal opportunities in the exercise of the right to education with subsidies for National Awards for Advanced Vocational Training.
  • Strategic objective 8: promote the learning of foreign languages with subsidies for the English Language Immersion Programmes.

New Organic Law on Education LOMLOE

On January 19, 2021, the Law on Education 3/2020 (LOMLOE) which amends Law 2/2006 became effective. Its coming into force has repealed Law 8/2013 for the improvement of educational quality.

This new law seeks to improve the social recognition of Vocational Training tracks to bring Spain closer to the rates of students who choose this path in the rest of the European countries. The main changes that this new law introduces in Vocational Training are the following:

  1. Vocational Training is moving towards an integrated system, accessible and with a perspective throughout life. Specialization courses are incorporated.
  2. Access and admission conditions are notably more flexible, establishing gateways with the rest of the educational system. Likewise, the processes for incorporating new content are expedited.
  3. Students who pass a basic level degree training cycle will receive the ESO (Compulsory Secondary Education) graduate degree, which will allow them access to any post-compulsory education. Therefore, Basic Vocational Training integrates general and professional training.
  4. The title of Professional Training Technician will allow access to both higher-level training cycles and Professional Education in Plastic Arts and Design.
  5. In accordance with the principle of educational inclusion, basic level training cycles will be offered for students with specific special needs, and methodological and organizational adaptations for students with specific need for educational support.
  6. Specific training programes may be organized for those over age 17 who left the educational system without qualification in order to allow them to obtain the Vocational Training title or an academic certification.
  7. Integrated Vocational Training and Dual Vocational Training centres are promoted.

Urgent measures adopted in the area of non-university education for the 2020/2021 school year

The Council of Ministers, at the Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sports’ proposal, passed the Royal Decree-Law 31/2020 which includes, among others, the following measures:

  1. Exceptionally and temporarily, the hiring of teachers who meet all the requirements but have not yet completed the specific master's degree in didactic and pedagogical training. In this way, a reinforcement of the staff has been made possible. This was necessary to guarantee the right to education in safety conditions during the 2020/2021 academic year. The coverage of these positions, of an exceptional and limited nature, may be carried out in the subjects in which the lists of applicants to the performance of temporary jobs, and of job seekers who are in possession of the aforementioned master's degree, are exhausted. The jobs created will be extinguished at the end of the academic year in which the reasons of urgent need that originated their creation disappear. Continuity in the exercise of teaching, as well as the eventual subsequent entry into the public function of those who have taught under these exceptional conditions will require that they be in possession of the aforementioned master's degree.
  2. In order to facilitate the adaptation of the didactic programs to the decisions that are adopted regarding the presence of the students in the education centres, the nature of the assessable learning standards is given for guidance only. The evaluation, promotion and qualification criteria in Primary, Secondary and Bachillerato are also adapted so that the educational administrations may authorize their modification to better adapt them to the situation caused by the pandemic. The teaching teams will assess collectively and globally whether the objectives of each stage have been achieved or not.
  3. End-of-stage evaluations of Primary and Compulsory Secondary Education are suppressed, as there are other sources of information on the educational performance of the students. Regarding the school calendar, school days will be considered all those in which attention and educational support is given to the students, either in person or remotely.

For more information, see Real Decreto-ley 31/2020, de 29 de septiembre, por el que se adoptan medidas urgentes en el ámbito de la educación no universitaria.

Financing of the REACTIVAFP 20/21 plan and other programmes related to VET

The Council of Ministers, at the proposal of the Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sports (MEFD), has approved an investment of 33 million euros for different educational programmes of territorial cooperation with the Autonomous Communities in the field of Vocational Training.

These agreements were approved on October 21, 2020 by the General Committee of the Education Sectorial Conference.

This investment, distributed among the AACC, will go to the following programmes:

  1. Evaluation and Accreditation of Professional Competences (3 481 170 euro)
  2. Dual Vocational Training (9 000 000 euro)
  3. Vocational Training Quality Actions of the Educational System (4 634 960 euros)
  4. REACTIVAFP 20/21 Programme, within the actions to promote the quality of VET (10 583 870 euro)
  5. Training, improvement and mobility initiatives for VET teachers (5 300 000 euro).

These funds are in addition to those provided for in the Plan for the Modernization of Vocational Training. The execution period is between September 1, 2020 and December 31, 2021, and its justification will be made before March 31, 2022.

The distribution criteria used for the delivery of these funds are, among others, the number of students, teachers and VET centres, the at-risk-of-poverty rate, the number of municipalities with a population under 10,000, the early school drop-out rate, the number of companies participating in Dual Vocational Training, the gender gap in qualifications, people in search of employment, or the disperse distribution of the active population and of the Public Administrations in each territory.

For more information, see Programa de Cooperación FP.

Accreditation of professional skills

The Council of Ministers has approved a Royal Decree that establishes the opening of a permanent procedure for the evaluation and accreditation of professional competences acquired through work experience, or through non-formal training channels, and which affects all productive sectors.
This is one of the actions included in the Plan for the Modernization of Vocational Training with the greatest impact on the workforce, since it puts an end to the limitations of the existing method.
With an initial budget of almost 852.5 million euro, the Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sports (MEFD) will certify the skills of more than three million people in four years.

Cumulative accreditation system

This permanent procedure will have as a reference the totality of the professional competence units included in the Professional Training offer linked to the National Catalogue of Professional Qualifications.

The accreditation system will be cumulative so that the beneficiary can complete the training that leads to obtaining the corresponding Professional Training title or certificate of professionalism.
The education centres that offer Vocational Training of the educational system, the integrated VET centres, and the National Reference Centres will be authorized to carry out these activities. In addition, the competent administration may determine other venues that hand over their facilities and services.
This transformation is in line with the European Union's employment strategies aimed at qualifying the workforce in order to facilitate employability, mobility, social cohesion, equity and lifelong learning.

For more information, see BOE.