The Spanish government approved the urgent reform of the vocational training system of the labour system (VTL). It is one of the most important structural reforms of this legislature, as it gives access to higher-quality jobs and contributes to combatting inequality, strengthening transparency and controlling fraud.

The Minister for Employment and Social Security, Fátima Báñez, stressed that ‘fraud will be subject to zero tolerance’ and that each euro allocated to training must be used for this purpose. The minister pointed out that the VTL is a system ‘consolidated over time’ currently used by some 475 000 companies. However, she considers that the system lacks strategic planning, quality and transparency. Moreover, there is an imbalance between training and jobs offered and hence ‘this model can be improved,’ she argued. The minister recalled that the reform resulted from a lengthy process of social dialogue before the agreement on proposals for tripartite negotiations was signed by the President of the government and social stakeholders (trade unions CCOO, UGT and employers' associations CEOE and Cepyme) on 29 July 2014.

The reform’s aim is to create stable and quality jobs, strengthen business competitiveness, improve workers’ employability and professional development, and consolidate a culture of training in the industry. It seeks to achieve greater effectiveness, efficiency and transparency in managing resources. The new model will apply to all public authorities and social stakeholders. ‘We want to detect needs of the industry in advance. A country with such a high level of unemployment as Spain cannot have job vacancies uncovered,’ she added. A multiannual strategic plan will help to shape training in line with present and future needs. Training records (cuenta formación) will be set up for each worker, where all training received will be registered. E-learning will be boosted, particularly in small and medium enterprises.

Minister Báñez highlighted that public fund management for VTL will have to change radically. It will be 100% competitive: ‘all training providers will be given access to public funds for continuing training under the same conditions and awards will be given following the principle of highest quality.’

For the unemployed, 'training checks' (cheque formación) were introduced, whereby they can choose the centre where they wish to receive training and the corresponding public authority will pay the training fee directly to the centre. The minister argued that in the future, only 25% of the subsidy will be paid in advance to the centres. ‘To date, it was possible to make a 100% advance payment and this has given rise to irregularities in many autonomous regions that we wish to avoid in the future.’

To avoid fraud, a special unit will be set up under the Employment and Social Security Inspectorate. Penalties will be increased for companies using funds irregularly. They will be disqualified from working with public authorities on training matters for a term of five years.

Minister of Employment and Social Security, Fátima Báñez

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