The latest report on Training in companies in 2020 produced by the State Foundation for Training in Employment (Fundae) reflects the training activity of that year, conditioned by the COVID-19 health crisis and its impact on economic and social activity.

Similarly to the findings of the COVID 19 European company survey, companies' training activity for their employees continued, albeit decreased compared to 2019 due to the disruption caused by the pandemic.

Participation in training

In 2020, the number of large companies (over 250 employees) offering training to their employees increased by 1.9% compared to 2019, reflecting their better adaptation to the pandemic situation. However, overall participation in training decreased by almost 12% and was more acute for micro companies (fewer than 10 employees).

The average number of courses carried out per trained employee (21.7 hours in 2020) was similar to the 2 previous years; however, participation fell for the first time since 2004, when public funding of training in private companies by a social security contributions bonus system was introduced, a fall of 16.6% compared to 2019.

Training features

The pandemic also forced a change in the way training was delivered, resulting in the rise of e-learning, with 46.4% of all those trained attending distance learning courses compared to 22.8% in the previous year. The average duration of e-learning courses was 17.1 hours (8 hours less than in 2019) which accelerates the process of gradual shortening that had been observed over the past 3 years.

Face-to-face training delivery dropped by 42% since 2019, although it still accounts for the largest volume of participation (52.8%), while mixed delivery covers less than 1%. The implementation of extraordinary measures taken in 2020 to cope with the impact of COVID-19 on continuing vocational training schemes for employment (sistema de formación profesional para el empleo) eased access to training for a large number of companies and workers. This is because face-to-face training was carried out through virtual classrooms instead.

A closer look shows the responsiveness of the system to the training needs of the moment. For example, half a million participants (13% of those trained) took courses with a specific reference to COVID-19, such as prevention measures in the workplace, biological agents, or transmission preventive measures in care homes. The average training duration is 8 hours per learner, representing a volume of 4 million hours of training devoted to pandemic-related subjects, that is 7.6% of all in-company training delivery in 2020.

For those activities with slow recovery, the government approved in 2021 new support measures to boost in-company training, subsidising the bulk of the cost of training and applying social security exemptions to companies that train their staff on temporary lay-off schemes (expedientes de regulación de empleo temporal-ERTE), which vary depending on the size of the company and the training activities.

Fundae's report on the COVID-19 impact on training for employment, which includes State-subsidised training, provides a more detailed analysis of the training activity during the health crisis.

Read more

Fundae (2021). Impacto COVID-19 en la formación para el empleo [COVID-19 impact on training for employment]. 

Fundae (2021). Informe anual 2020. La formación en las empresas [Training in companies’ annual report 2020]. 

Real Decreto-ley 18/2021, de 28 de septiembre, de medidas urgentes para la protección del empleo, la recuperación económica y la mejora del mercado de trabajo [Royal Decree-Law 18/2021, of September 28, on urgent measures for the protection of employment, economic recovery and improvement of the labour market].


Please cite this news item as: ReferNet Spain; Cedefop (2021). Spain: side effects of COVID-19 in in-company training. National news on VET