Understanding of apprenticeships in the national context

    Q2. Is there an official definition of ‘apprenticeship’ or ‘apprentice’ in your country?

    In Spain, the term used for “apprenticeship” is “dual vocational education and training” (Formación Profesional Dual). It is defined in legislation as “training actions and initiatives, combining employment and training, that aim at workers’ professional qualification in a regime that alternates work activity in a company and vocational education and training delivered by the education system or the employment system”, i.e. respectively the Ministry of Education (central o region departments) or the Ministry of Employment (central o region departments).

    The scheme Dual VET in Spain can be implemented through two sub-schemes:

    • The “apprenticeship” contract in VET or in the employment system for occupational qualifications (called professional certificates in the country and scheme fiche of this database), where learners have the status of employees, with a salary.
    • A “cooperation agreement” between a company, training centre and the learner, only in the education system. Learners are not considered employees and they only receive a grant, allowance or scholarship.

    Source: Royal Decree 1529/2012, of November 8, on the apprenticeships contracts and laying out the foundations of the dual vocational training system. Available at: https://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2015/10/24/pdfs/BOE-A-2015-11431.pdf

    Q3. At which level do apprenticeship schemes exist in your country?
    At upper secondary level
    At post-secondary (not tertiary)
    At tertiary level
    At sectoral level

    There is only one scheme: “dual vocational education and training” (Formación Profesional Dual). It can be used for pupils aged minimum 15 years old, in different types of formal programmes leading to qualifications at lower secondary (for those who cannot complete lower secondary compulsory education), at upper secondary and at higher level. It may also lead to occupational qualifications called “professional certificates”, which are not included in the education system but still they are formal qualifications.

    The dual training model is a different teaching model or a different route to acquire the same qualification as in school-based VET or education.

    It can involve an “apprenticeship contract” (for VET or occupational qualifications) or a “cooperation agreement” (for educational qualifications) between training centres and companies.

    Q4. How well-established are apprenticeship schemes in your country?
    A long history (before 2000)
    A recent history (in 2000s)
    Pilot scheme

    The Royal Decree 1529/2012 on the apprenticeship contracts and laying out the foundations of the dual vocational training system established the basis for the progressive implementation of dual vocational training in Spain.

    Since January 1st, 2016, all the training associated with the “apprenticeship” contract must necessarily be linked to VET programmes leading to formal qualifications awarded by either the education or employment authorities (see Q2).  From January 2016 until January 2019, a total of 148.204 “apprenticeship” contracts have been signed.

    In the education system, the results of the school year 2016/2017 published by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training are that 20.357 students where in a Dual VET programme, i.e. most had signed a cooperation agreement.in some Autonomous regions in Spain like for example in Basque County, students are in the Education VET System with DUAL VET programmes and with a labour contract nor a cooperation agreement. So this “i.e. had signed a cooperation agreement” can be removed or replaced by “ i. e. most have signed a cooperation agreement”. The information given by the Ministry of Education does not specify it.


    Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal (SEPE)

    Ministry of Education and VET

    Q5. Relevant information that is essential to understanding the specificity of apprenticeships in the country.

    Vocational education and training (VET) is mainly under the responsibility of education and employment authorities. The national system for qualifications and vocational training is the umbrella for VET programmes, leading to formal qualifications awarded by either the education or employment authorities.

    a) Education authority VET offers upper secondary (basic and intermediate) and higher VET qualifications. All programmes last two years (2 000 hours) and include work-based learning in a company and at a VET school:

    • basic VET programmes (ISCED 353) are available in the last year of compulsory education, to learners aged 15 or 16
    • intermediate VET programmes can begin at age 16, after the end of compulsory education. These lead to technician qualifications at ISCED 354.
    • at tertiary level, higher VET programmes (ISCED 554) lead to an advanced technician qualification.

    b) Employment authority VET offers programmes to obtain a professional certificate corresponding to an occupational profile. These programmes may include an “apprenticeship” contract. No formal access requirements apply for entering level 1 professional certificate programmes (ISCED 254) and learners can move on to the next level in the same field. Level 2 (ISCED 351) and level 3 (ISCED 453) programmes are also accessible to those having completed, respectively, compulsory and upper secondary, or equivalent, level studies to learners older than 16 years the possibility to obtain a professional certificate corresponding to an occupational profile.

    It is possible to acquire any VET or educational qualification through dual VET (apprenticeship contracts or cooperation agreement)