Vocational Education and Training
Society 08/09/2021

VET reform multiplies in-company teaching hours to reduce youth unemployment

The new law approved by the Spanish government will allow the accreditation of the skills of millions of workers and connects vocational training with university

3 min
The Minister of Education and Vocational Training, Pilar Alegría, during the press conference after the Council of Ministers on Tuesday.

The Spanish government wanted to make a statement of intent from the outset with vocational education and training and placed it, for the first time, in the name of the ministry. After the approval of the education law -popularly called the Celaá law-, this Tuesday the council of ministers has approved in second round the Organic Law for the Organisation and Integration of Vocational Education and Training (VET; in Spanish, FP). It is one of the main commitments of the Spanish government, which hopes that the reform will be an educational and, above all, employment boost for thousands of people: on the one hand, the executive wants to increase the number of students who opt for vocational education and training (it is still 12% in Spain, compared to almost 30% in the rest of Europe) and, on the other, to reduce the alarming figures of youth unemployment, which has shot up to 37%. The fact is that it is estimated that half of all new jobs will require technical training such as the one provided by vocational education and training and, as the Minister of Education, Pilar Alegría, has pointed out, the unemployment rate among vocational education and training graduates is six times lower than amongst other young people of their age.

The regulation, which comes at a decisive time for VET in Catalonia , with thousands of applicants waiting to see if they will assigned a public spot, plans to make studies more flexible, give more prominence to companies - with a strong boost to dual training - and draws, for the first time, a single system aimed at students and workers, both employed and unemployed. "Anyone, regardless of their age and situation, will be able to find a training offer that meets their needs", said Alegría.

The most important new feature is that training for students and for workers is unified in the same system. This will speed up the accreditation of professional skills that millions of workers have who, despite having extensive work experience, have no official qualifications to accredit them. Until now the process was "slow and inefficient", to the point that in a decade only 300,000 people have been able to accredit their job skills. According to the ministry, the new law will make it possible to accredit the skills of more than 3 million active workers in four years.

Five levels

Grade A will be the most basic and grade E the most specialised

The new VET offer is structured in five levels, ascending according to the course's duration, with the aim that each worker or student can adapt their itinerary. The most basic level, level A, has been called "micro-training" and will consist of training units of short duration and workload that will partially accredit the skills acquired. The second level, level B, will involve taking a complete module, for example by accumulating different courses from group A. The next step is level C, through which you can obtain a professional certificate and do an internship in a company. Grade D refers to the current training cycles: the basic grades (for those over 15 years of age), the medium cycle grades (after compulsory education) and the higher cycle grades (after A-levels). And level E will be achieved with specialised courses of between 300 and 800 hours.

Dual nature

More company involvement

Until now, all VET students have to do certain hours of work experience in companies, with very unequal percentages depending on the type of degree, the territory or the involvement of schools and companies. Some do 15% of internship hours, while those who choose to do dual vocational training, a modality in which training in the company and in the classroom are combined, do 30% or 40%. Currently, only 4.2% of Spanish vocational education and training students follow this type of training, despite the fact that it has a very high rate of employment. With the new regulations, the aim is to follow this method in all the degrees, whichever model the student chooses.

In the companies that offer internships there will have to be a dual tutor, who will act as a link between the company and the school and will coordinate with the teachers to evaluate the student's learning. This is already being done now, with varying degrees of success.

Relationship with university

Up to 25% of validated credits

The law aims to strengthen the links between VET and university, so that students on both sides have unimpeded pathways to complement their training. Thus, vocational education and training students will be able to validate up to 25% of a similar university degree credits.

Alegría has also announced that with the future VET law up to 200,000 places in vocational education and training will be launched over the next three years. The future law has a budget of more than 5,400 million euros that the Spanish government wants to implement over the next four years. According to the minister, the future law will serve as a "lever" to modernise and transform the education system and improve the situation of young people and workers, and will help reduce the unemployment rate. "We owe it to a whole generation of young people to give them the opportunity for quality employment", she said.