Content updates and contributors

    Version 2023 - Drafted by Guillem Salvans, Senior project manager at Fundación Bertelsmann - Member of Cedefop Community of apprenticeship experts for Spain

    1Scheme history

    Q1. When was the scheme introduced?
    Long history (before 2000)
    Recently introduced (between 2000-2012)
    New pathway (after 2012)

    Apprenticeships known as Dual VET were regulated in 2012. Approximately since 2014 all the Regions had Dual VET programmes in place.
    In 2022, a new VET law introduced new changes in the schemes, notably the Intensive VET pathway (Formación profesional intensiva) which represents an apprenticeship scheme (see also the Spanish country fiche).

    Q2. How did the apprenticeship scheme originate?
    Traditional craftsmanship (master-apprentice relation) to prepare apprentices for the occupation
    School-based VET track by including more work-based learning to supply skilled workforce to match labour market needs

    In Apprenticeships managed by Employment authorities (level C), the 2012 regulation allowed (Ex-novo) the possibility to implement apprenticeships through a new labour training contract.
    In Apprenticeships managed by Education authorities (level D and E), the 2012 regulation introduced a new VET track by integrating more work-based learning.


    Q3. Does the legal basis define the minimum and maximum age limits for enrolment of the target group of this scheme?
    Minimum and maximum age limits defined
    Minimum age limits defined only

    In apprenticeships at level C, the minimum enrolment age is 16. VET schemes run by Employment authorities are designed for both young people and adults.

    In apprenticeships at level D, the minimum enrolment age by law is 15. At that age, enrolment is allowed in Basic VET programmes. The minimum enrolment age in Intermediate VET programmes is 16. The minimum enrolment age in Higher VET programmes is 18.
    Although these VET schemes are designed for the young population, the average ages are well above the minimum entry ages.

    Q4. What is the average age of learners in practice?
    Between 15 and 18
    Between 18 and 24
    Above 24

    Apprenticeships at level D are more developed in Higher VET; in this case, as mentioned before, learners are at least 18 years old.

    In Apprenticeships at level C, average ages are also in the 18 to 24 range.

    Q5. How many learners are enrolled in this scheme?

    In apprenticeships at level D, a total of 45,612 were enrolled in the school year 2021/22.

    Source: Ministerio de Educación y Formación profesional
    Enseñanzas no universitarias. Formación Profesional. Curso 2020-2021 | Ministerio de Educación y Formación Profesional (


    Q7. Are the qualifications included in the National Qualification Framework (NQF)?
    There is no NQF

    Qualifications obtained from apprenticeships (level C, D, E) are included in the Spanish Qualification Framework (Catálogo Nacional de Cualificaciones Profesionales).

    Basic programmes= Level 1 of the Spanish Qualification Framework
    Intermediate programmes= Level 2 of the Spanish Qualification Framework
    Higher programmes=Level 3 of the Spanish Qualification Framework

    Q8. Is the scheme included in the ISCED 2011 mapping?

    Apprenticeships managed by Employment authorities. Level C:
    •    Professional certificate programmes Level 1. ISCED 254
    •    Professional certificate programmes Level 2. ISCED 351
    •    Professional certificate programmes Level 3. ISCED 453

    The certificates accrediting the set of professional skills are officially recognised as formal VET qualifications allowing access from one level to the next. The certificates can also be recognised by VET programmes managed by the Education authorities. The qualifications achieved through C-level programmes are part of the qualifications achieved in Level D.

    Apprenticeships provided by Education authorities. Level D:
    •    Basic VET (lower secondary). ISCED 353 (Secondary level)  Basic Professional Diploma
    •    Intermediate VET programmes. ISCED 354 (upper-secondary level)  Technician Diploma
    •    Higher VET programmes. ISCED 554 (Tertiary level)  Higher/Advanced Technician Diploma

    These programmes lead to qualifications that are officially recognised as formal VET qualifications, each one allowing access to the next education level.

    Q10. Which is the type of qualification obtained through the apprenticeship scheme?
    Formal VET qualification (which does not indicate the pathway)
    Formal VET qualification (which indicates the pathway)
    Formal apprenticeship qualification (journeyman, etc.)

    The formal qualification obtained through apprenticeships (Intensive VET) does not indicate the apprenticeship pathway.

    Q11. Does the scheme provide direct access to higher education?

    In apprenticeships corresponding to level D, students who have obtained the Intermediate level qualification can access directly to Higher VET programmes.

    Only higher-level VET gives access to higher academic education. Therefore, apprentices who have obtained qualifications from Higher VET programmes are eligible to access university degrees. In this regard, the corresponding degree (Higher Technician diploma) is already higher education (non-university), and gives access to Bachelor’s programmes under various limitations. These criteria refer to: final grade obtained in the studies completed or in specific modules/subjects; relationship between the curricula of the studies completed and theuniversity degree, among others.

    In addition, there is the possibility of improving the marks obtained in Higher VET programmes by taking part (partially) in the exam to gain access to university through academic pathways.

    Q12. What is the typical duration of the apprenticeship programme?

    Apprenticeships in level C last typically 1 year.
    Apprenticeships in level D last 2 years, and in some cases last 3 years.


    Q13. Is there any organization at the national level with roles in co-ordinating the scheme?

    Participatory mechanisms are in place for apprenticeships in both levels C and D. These mechanisms ensure appropriate coordination between the national government and regional governments. In turn, there are also mechanisms that ensure the participation of social partners in both systems.
    Regions play a key role in both schemes, as they have a wide margin of decision, and have the responsibility for implementation.
    The General Council for VET (Consejo General de la Formación Profesional) is the national government advisory body on VET policy. It comprises representatives of national and regional public authorities as well as social partners.
    However, there is no organization specifically designated for the coordination of Apprenticeships at the national level.

    Q14. What is the role of chambers, employers’ and employees’ representatives, sectoral councils (if existent), in shaping apprenticeship content, as per regulation?
    Role in designing qualification
    Role in designing curricula
    No role

    Social partners (business associations and trade unions) can support the development of new VET qualifications (which are also available through apprenticeships).
    During the process of elaboration of a new qualification, they are consulted at various stages through the General Council for VET (Consejo General de la Formación Profesional) which is the regular advisory body for VET.
    The National Qualifications Institute is responsible for updating the National Catalogue of Qualifications and for coordinating the whole process. Metodología de elaboración - Incual (

    At the same time, companies can lead initiatives to create new VET programmes and work together with national education authorities. Once this process is completed, the Spanish Ministry of Education and VET is responsible for designing new VET curricula.

    Q15. What is the role of chambers, employers’ and employees’ representatives in implementing the apprenticeship scheme, as per regulation?
    Role in final assessment of apprentices
    Role in accreditation of companies
    Role in monitoring of the in-company training
    No role

    National and regional Education and Employment authorities are responsible for implementing apprenticeships.
    However, the 2022 VET Law recognised the co-responsibility of the VET Schools and companies to implement VET programmes, including apprenticeship ones. In this sense, it is expected that the roles of business associations, chambers of commerce and unions increase within the VET system in the coming years.

    The 2022 law determines the framework for the participation of social partners in vocational training (Article 59). Social partners and intermediate bodies will have the following tasks:
    -To promote company participation.
    -To advice companies.
    -To ensure coordination with authorities and VET schools at local and regional level.
    -To promote networks of small and medium training companies to ensure learning outcomes for students.

    The involvement of social partners and intermediate bodies has increased over the last period (2012-2022), especially in apprenticeship programmes.

    The Spanish Chamber of Commerce manages its own programme for the promotion of apprenticeships, with advisory actions for smaller companies, among other work packages. This programme is implemented through the Chambers of Commerce at local level. Chambers encourage participation of companies. They also provide materials, training and information to the enterprises and to the company trainers.

    Q16. What are the main roles of key state actors?

    •    Vocational education and training (VET) is under the responsibility of Education and Employment authorities.
    •    The Ministry of Education oversees programmes that offer upper secondary, post-secondary and higher VET qualifications (level D and E), which can be also carried out in the form of apprenticeships.
    •    Employment authorities offer programmes to obtain a qualification corresponding to an occupational profile, which can be also carried out in the form of apprenticeships (level C).
    •    The National Qualifications Institute is responsible for updating the National Catalogue of Qualifications
    •    Following input from social partners, the Spanish Ministry of Education and VET is responsible for designing new VET curricula.
    •    Regions have a wide margin of decision, first on which schemes will be offered (Intensive VET-Apprenticeship) or school-based VET scheme (General VET that includes also a relevant part of in-company training), and then on specificities of apprenticeships, such as duration, share of workplace learning and possibility to offer incentives.
    •    VET Schools share the responsibility with companies for implementing apprenticeships.

    5Training at the workplace

    Q17. Is it compulsory to alternate training between two learning venues (school and company)?

    The 2022 VET Law establishes that apprenticeships (Intensive VET) require training in alternation.
    At the same time, it defines the beginning of the placement in the company and details the possible intervals of this alternation. The law indicates that in periods of in-company training longer than 1 month, students must have contact with the VET school, due to follow-up purposes.
    Finally, exclusive in-company placements of a duration equivalent to 1 year are to be considered as exceptions.

    Source: Law 3/2022, article 67

    Q18. Is the in-company training defined as minimum share of the apprenticeship scheme duration?
    Yes, equivalent or more than 50% of scheme duration
    Yes, between 20% and 50% of the scheme duration
    Yes, less than 20% of the scheme duration
    No, no minimum share is compulsory

    In the Intensive pathway, the duration of the in-company training must exceed 35 % of the total duration of the training.
    Ley 3/2022, article 67

    In practice, in many regions the share of workplace training is higher, approaching 50%.

    Q19. Is there a distinction between the training time and working time for the period spent at workplace, as per regulation?
    Yes, the legal framework makes this distinction
    No, the legal framework makes no distinction

    The Law does not specify any distinction within workplace training.

    Q20. What is the form of alternation of training between workplace (company) and school?
    Every week includes both venues
    One or more weeks (less than 1 month) spent at school followed by one or more weeks at workplace
    One or more months (less than 1 year) spent at school followed by one or more months at workplace
    A longer period (1-2 years) spent at school followed by a longer period spent training at workplace
    Various – depends on agreements between the school and the company
    Not specified

    The form of alternation is very flexible and depends mainly on regional regulation.

    In this sense, there is a majority tendency in each region, although many regions allow many types of alternation. In addition, exceptions can be found within each region for specific projects, e.g. to adapt to the needs of local economic sectors. Schools have the autonomy to modify the alternation type according to specific projects and regional regulation.

    In a 2-year Apprenticeship, the most typical form of alternation is to start the placement in the company in the second school-year, and to attend both the company and the school every week. However, in a limited number of regions the majority trend is in-company training in blocks of several months.

    Q22. Is the company hosting apprentices required by regulation to follow a training plan at the workplace?
    Yes, the training plan is based on the national/sectoral requirements for the in-company training
    Yes, the training plan is agreed at the level of school and company
    No, is not required formally

    Each person undergoing VET training (including apprenticeships) shall have a training plan, which, as a minimum, shall detail:
    a) The pathway under which the training is to be carried out (General VET/Intensive VET).
    b) The learning outcomes to be achieved in the company and in the VET school, specifying those to be developed in each or in both training venues.
    c) The mechanisms for monitoring the in-company training.
    d) The coordination, sequences, and duration of training periods in the company.
    e) The measures and adaptations, when required, for persons with specific support needs for the development of their in-company training periods.

    Law 3/2022, article 58

    Q23. What are the requirements on companies to provide placements, as per regulation?
    Have to provide a suitable learning environment
    Have to provide a mentor / tutor / trainer

    Companies participating in apprenticeships must provide a suitable learning environment (in line with the training objective of the programme), as well as appointing a company tutor. The new VET law establishes this in article 83.

    Q24. What are the formal requirements regarding workplace trainers/mentors/tutors? What is their profile?

    There are no formal requirements to become a company tutor.

    VET Law, Article 83

    Q25. Are there any sanctions on companies that do not provide training to apprentices at the workplace?

    In Spain, the training process in a company is mostly through learning-by-doing. In this context, there are no formal sanctions for employers not providing training at the workplace, but VET providers can end the cooperation with the training company if the activities the learner carries out in are not in line with his/her training plan.

    6Contract and compensation

    Q26. What is the status of the learner?
    Only student
    Only employee
    Apprentice is a specific status (student and employee combined)

    The basic provision of the 2022 VET Law is that apprenticeships are offered through a labour training contract, therefore apprentices are regular employees.  

    However, the national law foresees a transitional period (until 31 Dec 2028), during which apprenticeships in level D (managed by Education authorities) can alternatively operate under a grant agreement (beca). In those cases, apprentices are only students. At the moment, most of apprentices are students.
    During this transitional period, Regions chose whether to link students through a grant agreement (beca) or a labour training contract. In many regions both possibilities coexist.

    After 1 Jan 2029, all apprentices, including at level D need to be covered by the labour training contract and therefore have the status of employee.

    Q27. Is there any written arrangement between the learner and company, required as per regulation?

    Typically, an agreement among learners, VET school and companies is signed first to establish their cooperation.

    Beyond this initial agreement, the learner and the company sign:
    -    a labour training contract (the regular provision of the 2022 VET Law); or
    -    a grant agreement (beca) during the transitional period (until 31 Dec 2028), only for apprenticeships in level D, depending on the choice of the corresponding Region (see Q26)

    Q28. What is the nature of the written arrangement?
    Apprenticeships are an ordinary employment contract
    Apprenticeships are a specific type of contract
    Another type of formal agreement, not a contract

    The labour training contract is an employment contract that establishes specific requirements regarding training.

    The grant agreement (beca) which remains an option only for the transitional period and only for apprenticeships managed by Education authorities at level D) is a formal agreement (not a labour contract).

    Q29. Where is the contract or the formal agreement registered?
    At the school
    At the Ministry of employment
    At the chambers
    At the Ministry of education

    The labour training contract is a type of labour contract, so it must be registered with the Public Employment Service (Ministry of employment) and the Spanish Social security system.
    Grant agreements are registered by the Spanish Social Security System (still an option until 31.12.28).

    Q30. Do apprentices receive a wage or allowance?
    Yes, all apprentices receive a wage (taxable income)
    Yes, all apprentices receive an allowance (not a form of taxable income)
    Apprentices receive a reimbursement of expenses
    No form of compensation is foreseen by law

    Apprentices are employees and receive a taxable wage in apprenticeships.

    However, during the transitional period (until 1 January 2029) and only in apprenticeships level D and managed by Education Authorities apprentices may receive either wage (through the labour contract) or grant – in both cases paid for by the company and taxable.

    Q31. How is the apprentice wage (taxable income) set?
    By law (applying for all)
    By cross-sectoral collective agreements at national or local level
    By sectoral collective agreements at national or local level
    By firm-level collective agreements or individual agreements between apprentice and company

    The wage for labour training contracts shall be established in the applicable collective bargaining agreement.

    In the absence of a collective agreement, the remuneration may not be less than 60% in the first year or 75% in the second year of the wage established in the collective agreement for the professional group and remuneration level corresponding to the functions performed, in proportion to the effective working time.
    In no case may the remuneration be less than the minimum national wage in proportion to the effective working time.
    In case of receiving a grant during the transitional period (an option only in apprenticeships level D apprentices until 1 January 2029), the amount is set by regional education authorities (different levels apply across regions).

    7Financing and incentives

    Q32. Who covers the cost of the wage or allowance of the apprentice?

    Companies pay the wage or allowance in apprenticeships

    Subsidisation of the wage is possible, and quite frequent in apprenticeships corresponding at level C (managed by employment authorities).

    Q33. What are the sources of financing of the direct costs for the in-company training part of the apprenticeship scheme?
    Single employers hosting apprentices
    Sectoral funds

    Companies pay for the in-company training part of the labour training contract.
    Payment is established by collective agreements or national minimum wage and adjusted to the effective working time.

    In apprenticeships at level D and during the transitional period (until 1 January 2029), students can sign a contract or a grant. Also in this second possibility, companies pay the grant to the student.

    Social security costs are partially covered by the State. In the case of labour training contract there is a reduction (see Q39). In the case of grants, social contributions are greatly subsidised.

    Q34. Are there any financial incentives for companies that offer apprenticeship places?
    Yes, subsidies
    Yes, tax deductions
    Yes, other incentives
    No financial incentives

    For companies signing a labour training contract:
    •    Strong reduction on the company’s social contributions (75% - 100% depending on the company size).
    •    Compensation of the in-company tutor time.
    •    Reduction of social contributions in case of hiring an apprentice after graduation.

    For companies signing a grant agreement (beca) with the student (still an option only during the transitional period and only for apprenticeships at D level):
    •    Strong reduction of company’s social security contributions

    Beyond these incentives, Employment and Education authorities may reimburse part of the apprentice wage/grant costs. Such reimbursement is very frequent in apprenticeships at level C managed by Employment authorities and very rare in apprenticeships at level D managed by Education authorities.

    Q35. Does the wage or allowance of the apprentice cover both the time spent at school and in the company?
    No, it covers only the time spent in the company

    Wage or grant in apprenticeships only covers the time spent in the company.
    During the time spent in the VET school, learner do not get any compensation.

    Q36. Are there any incentives for learners?
    Yes, grants paid to learners to top up their remuneration
    Yes, grants paid to learners related to other costs (travel, food etc.)
    Yes, recognition of prior learning / fast-track opportunities
    Yes, other types of incentives

    The direct economic compensation is a key incentive for learners; this is because in other VET pathways learners do not get any remuneration during the training time spent in the company (remuneration is not mandatory in the general VET pathway).

    In addition, learners perceive the fact of being covered by the Spanish Social Security System as an incentive (but this has been extended to cover all VET students since beg 2024).

    Higher employment rates upon graduation (in relation to other VET options) can also be considered as an incentive for students.

    Regional authorities can compensate learners travel or subsistence costs.