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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Quality assurance in adult education and training


11.Quality assurance

11.3Quality assurance in adult education and training

Last update: 27 February 2024

Adult education and training provision is very broad and depends on the responsible bodies and training providers. 

Responsible bodies

Adult education is mainly provided by the education authorities, although it is sometimes complemented by the labour authorities. In this respect, three types of training can be distinguished:

1. Lifelong learning

The bodies responsible for the evaluation of specific plans for lifelong learning are the following:

  • the regional education authorities;
  • the Sub-Directorate General for Guidance and Lifelong Learning of the Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sports (MEFD), which is responsible for the academic organisation of adult education and for the development of the training offer in the area of management of the Department regarding this issue. It also manages the Centre for the Innovation and Development of Distance Education (CIDEAD) and the specific distance learning offers for adults.

2. Professional training system

All the public administrations with competence in this area ensure the quality of all the actions and services within the vocational training system, especially vocational guidance, the training provided in all the learning environments and in all modalities, and the accreditation of professional competences. To this end, the State Education Inspectorate and the Education Inspection are responsible for the inspection, supervision and evaluation of this system.

The General State Administration (GSA) establishes and coordinates a system of evaluation of the vocational training system to ensure its continuous improvement and innovation, in collaboration with the administrations with competences in this area and the most representative business and trade union organisations.

Furthermore, the GSA, in collaboration with the autonomous communities, must draw up and submit to the General Council for Vocational Training and the National School Council, within its sphere of competence, and publish a biennial report on the state of the vocational training system. This report must include the following aspects:

  • the information requested from and provided by the autonomous communities on the results in their respective territories;
  • the results obtained by random verifications and evaluations carried out by independent bodies.

At the same time, the competent administrations and all vocational training institutions are obliged to transfer the required data necessary to draw up the report on the state of the system. The content of the report is to be agreed within the framework of the territorial cooperation bodies and the General Council for Vocational Training.

Every four years, the Report on the state of the vocational training system must include a study on the provision of training cycles and their adequacy to student demand, the employability rate of vocational training students and the present and future human capital needs of the public and private sectors.

3. Occupational training promoted from outside the vocational training system by other authorities, in particular, labour authorities

Labour authorities are in charge of promoting occupational training for the adult population, complementing the actions of the vocational training system.

The responsible bodies for quality assessment are the following:

  • the Public State Employment Service (SEPE);
  • the National Foundation for Training in Employment (FUNDAE);
  • the competent bodies in the different autonomous communities.

SEPE is an autonomous body of the State General Administration, currently attached to the Ministry of Labour and Social Economy, which is entrusted with the promotion, design and development of employment measures and actions. 

FUNDAE collaborates with SEPE as a technical support for this body. Both are responsible for the management of training initiatives for employment. They also support evaluation, monitoring and control activities, among other functions.

Approaches and methods for quality assurance

There are different mechanisms for evaluating adult education, depending on the type of training concerned. They are as follows: 

Assessment in adult education within the education system

Characteristics of the evaluation of adult education:

Evaluation is part of the educational process and must evaluate both the development and the results of learning, in order to verify progress and detect difficulties, so that the necessary measures can be adopted, if necessary, so that students can successfully continue their training process.

Evaluation of educational institutions

The education authorities of the autonomous communities may, within the framework of their powers, draw up and implement plans for the evaluation of educational institutions, which take into account the socio-economic and cultural situations of their pupils, the environment of the institutions and their resources. They must also support and facilitate the self-evaluation of the institutions.

Evaluation of the teaching and managerial functions

The education authorities of the autonomous communities may, within the framework of their powers, draw up plans for the evaluation of the public teaching function, with the aim of improving the quality of teaching and the professional practice of the teaching staff. They may also draw up plans for the assessment of the managerial function.

Plans for the evaluation of the teaching staff in the civil service must include the following characteristics:

  • to be drawn up with the participation of teachers and be public;
  • to include the aims and assessment criteria, as well as the way in which teachers, the educational community and the administration participate in the evaluation process;
  • to encourage the voluntary evaluation of teachers;
  • to establish the necessary procedures so that the results of these assessments, together with in-service training, research and innovation activities, are taken into account in competitions for transfers and career advancement.

Evaluation in the vocational training system

Vocational training offers shall include an evaluation process to verify the acquisition of learning outcomes under the quality conditions established in the basic elements of the curriculum. This assessment shall respect the methodological and resource adaptation needs of people with specific educational or training support needs.

The evaluation system of any programme included in the vocational training system must be adapted to the different learning methodologies and must be based on the verification of learning outcomes.

In the case of programmes targeted at the active population, the evaluation system takes into consideration the specific characteristics of these people and the practical nature of such training.

The evaluation of the quality of the vocational training system is carried out according to the indicators set out in the European Quality Assurance Framework for Vocational Training (EQAVET).

The purposes of the evaluation of the vocational training system are the following:

  • the identification, description and analysis of the relevant elements for the quality of the provision and the implementation of vocational training programmes and actions, the accreditation of competences and vocational guidance;
  • the provision of evidence to enable informed decisions to be taken in order to improve the functioning of the system and the results it achieves.

In turn, the evaluation system for the vocational training system has the following characteristics:

  • the implementation of an evaluation internally and externally, and on a continuous basis as part of a cycle of continuous improvement;
  • the collection of information in accordance with a system of quality indicators;
  • the use of various sources of verification to ensure the triangulation of data;
  • the principles of any public evaluation: relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, social impact and sustainability.

Evaluation in occupational training promoted from outside the vocational training system by other authorities, in particular, labour authorities

It is the responsibility of each competent public administration, in its respective field, to ensure the quality of occupational training they promote from outside the vocational training system. To this end, the following measures are carried out through the evaluation of training:

  • a permanent evaluation process in its field of action;
  • an annual plan to evaluate the quality, impact, effectiveness and efficiency of the system as a whole, the conclusions and recommendations of which should lead to the incorporation of improvements in its operation;
  • the implementation of systems and mechanisms for the continuous improvement of quality in the institutions providing the training actions. In order to measure quality, certain criteria and indicators are established in accordance with instruments developed for this purpose. 

In turn, the institutions and organisations that provide the training must collaborate in the evaluation of the training they provide. Likewise, the competent administrations publish the results of the evaluations carried out, creating an easily accessible and identifiable information, and consultation space for this purpose.

As for the monitoring and control of training actions, each competent public administration monitors all initiatives and delivery methods, and evaluates the results of the training, thus contributing to the measurement of its impact. 

Participation of Spain in the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC)

The PIAAC programme assesses the competences of adults aged 16 to 65 in key information processing skills: reading comprehension, mathematics and adaptive problem solving in IT environments. It also collects information on how adults use their skills in their daily lives and at work. This international assessment has so far been carried out in about 40 countries and economies in the first cycle of the study and in 31 in the second cycle. Spain participated in the first edition, the results of which were published in 2013, and is also participating in the second edition. Data collection for the main survey of this second cycle took place between September 2022 and June 2023 in the national context. The results are expected to be published by the end of 2024. The information obtained will make it possible to identify and measure the cognitive skills associated with personal and social success, to assess their impact on social and economic outcomes at individual and collective level, to gauge the performance of education and training systems in generating key skills, and to help clarify policy decisions that could contribute to their improvement.