In Spain, an integrated vocational education and training (VET) system was regulated by the Organic Law on Qualifications and Vocational Education and Training (Law 5/2002 of 19 June). However, in fact, two different VET subsystems can be distinguished: the initial VET (IVET, leading to diploma) and the vocational training of employment (CVET, leading to professional certificate), which are regulated by separate royal decrees.
The national system for qualifications and VET forms an umbrella for VET programmes leading to formal qualifications awarded by education or employment authorities. The system takes the occupational standards national catalogue (Catálogo Nacional de Cualificaciones Profesionales, CNCP) as the reference point.
Historically, IVET has been poorly connected with the labour market, mainly school-based with only a marginal apprenticeship approach. It was modernised in the 1990s, with the implementation of the Organic Law on the General Organisation of the Education System (78), known as LOGSE (LOGSE, 1990). This law increased by two years compulsory education (from 14 to 16 years) by creating a mandatory secondary education cycle of four courses. (ISCED 2), from 12 to 16 years. For learners who failed to achieve the compulsory education degree, the so-called social guaranty programmes (PGS) were created. These programmes provided some professional qualification at lower level, but were not connected to the education system.
With a view to increasing the social value of IVET, the LOGSE removed the option of gaining admittance to an intermediate level of IVET (ISCED 3) without the secondary compulsory education degree. In addition, a higher IVET was created (ISCED 5). For enrolling in programmes at this level, a successful completion of general upper secondary education (Bachillerato, equivalent to ISCED 3) was required, as with other higher education programmes (e.g. universities). Additionally, for both IVET cycles – the intermediate and the higher level VET – the so-called ‘training on-the-job’ module (formación en el centro de trabajo, FCT) was introduced. This module accounts for 400h and must be followed at the end of the programmes. It is organised in cooperation with companies and adds a company-based training element to what remains a mainly school-based model.
The Spanish IVET model can therefore be summarised as a mainly schoolbased dual VET scheme (Table 18), or alternating duality model (in line with the conceptual framework of this study, Box 1) in which a relatively long phase of fulltime school-based vocational education is followed by a short phase of on-the-job learning allowing learners to practise in the company what they have learned in the training centre. The module FCT is an essential feature of the system, and all students of initial vocational training courses benefit from a stay in the business environment allowing them to have a first contact with the professional workplace before graduation.
Since the implementation of LOGSE the structure of the education and vocational training system has remained stable. However, successive reforms tried to address some of the problems that the LOGSE has left unsolved, such as the difficulties to reintegrate those young people who left school before completing mandatory secondary education, due to the rigidity of the system for providing a bridge back to formal education (Homs, 2008).
One of the instruments introduced to combat school failure relates to the regulation of the initial vocational qualification programmes (PCPI) (84) in 2006. These programmes provide young people over 15 with an academic certificate of completion. This can be used for participation in training courses to gain a professional skills certificate or to obtain a secondary compulsory education degree. The initial vocational qualification programmes will be progressively replaced by the ‘basic VET courses’, which will start during 2015-16. Basic VET will be a transitional course addressed to young people aged 15 to 17 that have ended the third course or exceptionally the second course of the secondary mandatory education. The courses will combine teaching in maths, literacy and other academic subjects with teaching in a vocational field, including training at the workplace. Pupils that pass the course will gain a basic technical profesional diploma (ISCED 3).
More recent initiatives aim at strengthening work-based elements and allowing for more apprenticeship-like models to evolve. In 2012, the government regulated a dual integrated training model (in line with the conceptual framework of this study through the Royal Decree (RD) 1529/2012. This decree aims to develop a model based on greater cooperation and involvement of the Company in the IVET system. It aims to favour active participation of the company in the training process of the learners and to strengthen the links between the Company and the training centre. It is required that a minimum of 33% of the vocational training takes place in the company. Regulation of the relationship between the learners and the company is not prescribed and can take different forms. RD 1529/2012 stipulates two paths: a scholarships path and an employment path. With the scholarship path, which involves a training contract, pupils can receive a grant, the amount of which is not prescribed, from the company, from institutions, foundations or public administrations. The employment path is regulated with a training and apprenticeship contract and is addressed to young people aged 16 to 30. The apprentices receive wages.
In the vocational training of employment subsystem the effective working time cannot be higher than 75% during the first year and 85% during the second and third year of the working time established in collective bargaining. Wages for the contract are set up in collective bargaining and cannot be lower than the minimum wage. The training content (at least 25% during the first year and 15% during the second and third year) of the contract must be followed in a training centre or an educative centre.
One of the positive elements in introducing the above described experimental models of dual integrated training in Spain is that they are based on the same existing qualifications as in the school system. The dual integrated training model is only a different teaching model or a different route to acquire the same qualification, so that the permeability in the training system is guaranteed. Further, dual training is not confined to certain programmes or specialties, but is open to all existing programmes using the occupational standards national catalogue.