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Spain: upskilling and reskilling in the tourism industry

Offsetting the COVID-19 socioeconomic effects on tourism sector workers

Tourism is a key employer of the EU economy providing easy employment access to vulnerable groups, such as women and migrants. Before the pandemic, the Spanish tourism industry accounted for over 12% of the gross domestic product (GPD) making Spain the second tourist destination in the world in 2018.

The State Public Employment Service (SEPE), with the collaboration of the State Foundation for Training in Employment (Fundae), is launching a training programme (through public subsidies) for the tourism industry within the framework of the National Plan for Recovery, Transformation and Resilience, with a total budget of EUR 40 million; 60% corresponds to the financial year 2021 and 40% to the financial year 2022.

Purpose and scope

The call for proposals for State-wide training programmes was designed to finance upskilling and reskilling training actions for people employed in the tourism sector. It aims at fostering opportunities for professional promotion and personal development that will favour the relaunching and improvement of the competitiveness of the tourism industry, while responding to the impact of the crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this sense, the tourism sector comprises several economic activities, such as the hotel and catering industry, travel agencies, car rental, road passenger transport, air transport or manufacturers of cooked products for home sale.

The training programmes will be made up of training actions meeting the needs identified in State sectoral collective bargaining, through the corresponding joint bodies, the sectoral joint commissions in each area, and will be included in the National Catalogue of Training Specialities managed by SEPE.

A total of 301 specialties have been identified from this catalogue, grouped into eight sectoral branches. Almost half of them belong to the hotel and tourism branch (46%), 14% to the transport and vehicle maintenance branch, and 8% to the trade and marketing one. As for the economic activities included in the call for proposals, most of the training specialities have been identified by the hotel and catering industry (56%), manufacturers of cooked products for home sale (17%) and air transport (15%).

The flexibility measures implemented due to COVID-19 are still applicable, such as ‘mirror classroom’ or ‘bimodal training’ that allows trainers to deliver training in person to part of the attendees while another group attends virtually.

Target groups and training providers

These programmes address primarily employees in the tourism sector who provide paid services in companies or public entities (out of the scope of training agreements in public administrations), as well as self-employed workers in the same field.

Unemployed workers registered in the Public Employment Services may also participate, with a limit of 30% of the total number of beneficiaries. They may also receive grants for travel, accommodation, and meals.

Workers in temporary redundancy programmes (Expediente de Regulación Temporal de Empleo -ERTE), as well as targeted groups (low qualified people, women, etc.) signalled by the corresponding sectoral joint committees have priority in receiving training.

Private training institutions and companies included in the State register of training entities and with presence in more than one region, can apply for these subsidies; so can public ones, such as integrated vocational training centres, centres of the national employment system and national reference centres, adult training centres, universities, and federations and associations of local authorities. Groupings of such training entities, owners of classrooms or facilities for face-to-face training or digital platforms may also apply. 

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