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This website as well as the publications and online tools accessible via this website may contain UK data and analysis based on research conducted before the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union on 31 January 2020. EU averages or other statistical parameters including the UK reflect the situation in the European Union before 31 January 2020 and should not be considered as representative of the situation in the EU thereafter. Any data or information pertaining to the UK will be gradually phased out from Cedefop’s website, publications and online tools, as ongoing research projects with the United Kingdom’s participation are concluded. Data coming from UK were collected, processed and published before its withdrawal from the EU. Therefore, EU averages contain UK related data up to 2019.

General themes

VET in the UK:

  • skills development is a major priority of all four countries ([1]See: Strategic development of VET under Section
    12. Shaping VET qualifications - design
    );
  • there is an increased demand for apprenticeships and skills-for-work;
  • across the UK there is a high participation rate (66%)([2]66% of UK workplaces that responded to the UK
    Employer Skills Survey 2017 had arranged on-the-job or off-the-job training for employees in the preceding 12 months, with on-the-job training slightly more popular. Adult and continuing education is part of the formal education system, but is also offered as non-formal training by employers and training providers.
    ) in adult and continuing education;
  • early leaving from education and training has decreased in the last decade and is slightly above the national target set at 10% ([3]Drop-outs under 15 years old are redirected to VET earlier that other school-age learners.).

Distinctive features: ([4]Cedefop ((2017). Spotlight on vocational education and training in the United Kingdom. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8111_en.pdf
)

The UK government has devolved decision-making powers in several areas of policy responsibility, including governance of VET, to the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. While there are similarities between the systems in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, reforms are creating greater divergence and the Scottish system has always been different in many ways from those of the rest of the UK.

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different governance, regulation and quality assurance bodies. There is a complex institutional framework in the UK VET sector, with the policymaking authority for VET in England being the Department for Education, while the Department of Education and the Department for the Economy are responsible in Northern Ireland, and the Scottish and Welsh governments in Scotland and Wales respectively. The qualifications market in the UK is jointly driven by government policies and private interests. This has led to a large choice of qualifications and awarding organisations.

Matching qualifications with employer needs and increasing employer engagement with education and training are high priorities in the UK. The government’s July 2016 Post-16 skills plan proposes to simplify college-based VET in England by creating clear routes to occupations through qualifications developed with input from employers by 2019. The Regulated Qualifications Framework introduced in 2015 gives awarding organisations increased freedom and flexibility to develop qualifications that meet specific labour market needs. Qualifications are now expected to be validated and supported directly by employers rather than follow prescriptive rules and structures imposed by government agencies.

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework retains its credit and unit-based structure. Colleges in Scotland align their provision to the needs of employers and the Scottish economy through outcome agreements and a broad range of qualifications through their new regional governance structure. The Scottish Funding Council works with colleges to ensure outcome agreements address priority needs within their regions and contribute to improving young people’s life chances. The Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce also encourages colleges to develop more productive partnerships with local employers, schools and authorities.

The Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales continues to add clarity on the qualifications system and recognises all forms of learning across all levels and abilities. Vocational qualifications have also been classified as either IVET or CVET to clarify their purpose and whether they are introductory or lead to occupational competence. In 2015, Qualifications Wales was established as an independent agency tasked with ensuring that the Welsh qualifications system and qualifications meet the needs of learners, and promoting public confidence in the qualification system. The 2016 framework for post-compulsory education in Wales proposes to develop stronger links between education policy, providers and provision, and social and economic goals to ensure the future needs of Wales are met.

Youth training, further education, and apprenticeship reforms in Northern Ireland aim to raise skill levels of young people and will provide clear pathways from introductory VET to apprenticeships – which will start at upper secondary technician level – and higher education. Employers will be connected to education and training providers through a strategic advisory forum and sectoral partnerships to ensure curriculum design and training structure meet their needs. Further, the entitlement framework now encourages collaboration between post-14 school provision and vocational further education college provision. Centres of specialism and expertise will be set up in colleges that will develop networks of experts who will share the latest developments in curriculum and skills training.

Data from Spotlight on VET United Kingdom 2016/17 ([5]Cedefop ((2017). Spotlight on vocational education and training in the United Kingdom. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8111_en.pdf
).

Population in 2018: 66 273 576 ([6]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

Population increased since 2013 by 3.7% due to natural growth and migration ([7]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

The UK old age dependency ratio is showing a trend towards an aging population, with more people reaching pension age. It is expected to increase from 28 in 2015 to 43 in 2060 ([8]Old-age-dependency ratio is defined as the ratio between the number of persons aged 65 and more over the number of working-age persons (15-64). The value is expressed per 100 persons of working age (15-64).).

 

Source: Eurostat, proj_15ndbims [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Demographic changes have an impact on VET.

The amount of job roles requiring intermediate and higher skills and education is rising in the UK and it is expected that it will become even more important to possess specialist skills and higher education in the coming years, in order to qualify for a more technologically advanced labour market.

The demographic trend towards an ageing population raises challenges for VET. There may need to be a renewed focus on adult education and upskilling to keep up with the needs of the labour market. ‘As working lives are getting longer and the pace of technological change is increasing, the number of significant changes an individual will have to adapt to during their working life will increase.’([9]Government Office for Science (2015). Future of education in an ageing population. Presentation for the Expert meeting, York, 13 July 2016.
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/555576/future-of-ageing-education-expert-meeting-york.pdf [accessed 13.6.19].
)

Furthermore, efforts to curb immigration may result in a need to supply a greater number of intermediate skilled workers from the native labour force. The UK has relied on EEA skilled labour and curbs on immigration will impact on the skills profile of the workforce. ([10]Savour, B.; Keohane, N. (2019). Leading skills, exploring leadership in further education colleges: paper 1. London: SMF, p.14
http://www.smf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Leading-skills-Exploring-leadership-in-Further-Education-colleges-Paper-1.pdf
)

 

Information not available

The UK has a market-based economy and is a major international trading power. Financial services as well as pharmaceutical, petroleum, automotive, aerospace, telecommunications and other technological industries play an important role in the UK’s economy, with the services industry being the largest contributor.

The UK labour market is demand-led and amongst the least regulated in the world. Skill shortages exist in various sectors.

The top five occupations experiencing shortages are currently finance, medicine associate professionals, nursing and midwifery, other health professionals and ICT ([11]Skills Panorama (2018).
Mismatch priority occupations in the United Kingdom. Cedefop analytical highlights.
https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/analytical_highlights/united-kingdom-mismatch-priority-occupations [accessed 3.8.2018].
).

The UK Government lists shortage occupations for work permit purposes and currently includes various engineering and technician jobs, medicine, health, science, teaching (secondary level), IT/computing, chefs and arts amongst other professions ([12]Home Office (2018
). UK Immigration rules - Appendix K: shortage occupation list from 6 July 2018 [accessed 3.8.2018]. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix...
).

UK NARIC ([13]UK NARIC is the National Agency responsible for providing information, advice and opinion on academic, vocational and professional qualifications and skills from all over the world:
https://www.naric.org.uk/naric/
) works with the UK immigration authority by providing recognition of formal qualifications from abroad to the most appropriate level within the UK education system.

 

Employment in the UK by industry

Source: Office for National Statistics (2018: employment by industry [accessed 6.7.2018].

 

Total unemployment ([14]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.) (2018): 3% (6% in EU28); it decreased by 0.9 percentage points since 2008 ([15]Eurostat table une_rt_a [extracted 20.5.2019].).

 

Unemployment rate (aged 15-24 and 25-64) by education attainment level in 2008-18

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education. ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education. ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_urgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

People with low qualifications experience higher unemployment rates compared to those with middle or higher level qualifications. Unemployment increased during the economic crisis (especially among young people aged 15-24 with low qualifications), but has regained the pre-crisis levels. Moreover, in 2018 unemployment rates are lower than in 2008 in all age groups.

Employment rate of 20 to 34-year-old VET graduates increased from 78.0 % in 2014 to 80.5% in 2018 ([16]Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

 

Employment rate of VET graduates (20 to 34 years old, ISCED levels 3 and 4)

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

The increase (+2.5 pp) in employment of 20-34 year-old VET graduates in 2014-18 was lower compared to the increase of all 20-34 year-old graduates (+3.2pp) in the same period in the United Kingdom ([17]NB: Break in time series. Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

See Cedefop (2018). The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe. Volume 3: the responsiveness of European VET systems to external change (1995-2015). Case study focusing in England. [17a]Cedefop (2018). The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe. Volume 3: the responsiveness of European VET systems to external change (1995-2015). Case study focusing in England. Cedefop research paper; No 67. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/england_cedefop_changing_nature_of_vet_-_case_study.pdf

In 2018, the share of population aged up to 64 with higher education in the UK was the sixth highest in the EU28+(43.1%) and well above the EU average (32.2%)in the same group. The share of those with low level qualifications (19.6%) is below the EU average (21.8%) while middle-level qualifications is rather low (37.1%) compared to the EU average (45.7%) and the seventh lowest in the EU, following Spain, Portugal, Malta, Luxembourg, Iceland and Ireland.

 

Population (aged 25 to 64) by highest education level attained in 2018

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; low reliability for ‘no response’ in Czech Republic, Iceland, Latvia and Poland.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_pgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

See Cedefop (2019). The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe. Volume 6: vocationally oriented education and training at higher education level. Expansion and diversification in European countries. Case study focusing on United Kingdom. Cedefop research paper; No 70. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_england_cedefop_chang...

 

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower secondary

upper secondary

post-secondary

17.5%

46.6%

Not applicable

Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs01, educ_uoe_enrs04 and educ_uoe_enrs07 [extracted 16.5.2019].

The share of learners in VET increased since 2013, by 5.7% and 2.9% respectively in lower and upper secondary education.

The share of upper-secondary VET learners compared to the total number of learners in upper secondary education increased from 43.8% in 2013 to 46.6% in 2017 (+2.9 pp) in the UK. UK was among the eleven EU28+ countries that had a positive change in the VET population while nineteen countries had seen a decrease in the share of upper-secondary VET population in the same period ([18]Data not available for the Netherlands.).

 

Share of initial VET learners from total learners at upper-secondary level (ISCED level 3), 2017

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011.
Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs04 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Information not available

The share of early leavers from education and training has dropped by 5 percentage points from 15.7% in 2009 to 10.7% in 2018, close to the national target set for 2020 (10%) and close to the EU average share (10.6%) in 2018.

 

Early leavers from education and training in 2009-18

NB: Share of the population aged 18 to 24 with at most lower secondary education and not in further education or training; break in series.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_14 [extracted 16.5.2019] and European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/info/2018-european-semester-national-reform-programmes-and-stability-convergence-programmes_en [accessed 14.11.2018].

 

Education or training is compulsory up to age 16 (18 in England). Most VET programmes can be accessed from age 15/16, although learners can be introduced to VET earlier after dropping out of compulsory schooling ([19]In 2019, national achievement (completion) rates in the 19+ education and training and in apprenticeships were 88.3% and 67.3% respectively:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/789589/201718_NARTs_MainText.pdf
).

More information on early leaving from education and training is available in the Cedefop report 2017: United Kingdom - Leaving education early: putting vocational education and training centre stage ([20]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_-_leaving_education_early.pdf)

Lifelong learning offers training opportunities for adults, including early leavers from education.

 

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-18

NB: Share of adult population aged 25 to 64 participating in education and training.
Source: Eurostat, trng_lfse_01 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Participation in lifelong learning decreased (-1.7 percentage points) from 16.3% in 2014 to 14.6% in 2018, at 3.5 percentage points above the EU-28 average (11.1%) in 2018.

In England, 2.2 million people registered with further education (FE) colleges in 2017/18, 1.4 million of those VET learners (63.3%) were adults ([21]Association of Colleges (2017). College key facts 2017/18. https://www.aoc.co.uk/sites/default/files/Key Facts 2017-18_1.pdf).

Adult and continuing education is part of the formal education system, but is also offered as non-formal training by employers and training providers.

 

Participation of 16-18 year olds in education and training in England in 2017 (%)

Source: Department for Education (2018). Participation in education, training and employment: 2017 [accessed 15.11.2018].

 

 

Participation of 16-19 year olds in education and training in Scotland in 2018 (%)

Source: Skills Development Scotland (2018). Annual Participation Measure for 16 – 19 year olds in Scotland 2018 [accessed 15.11.2018].

 

The education and training system comprises:

  • preschool education (ISCED level 0);
  • primary education (ISCED level 1);
  • lower secondary education (ISCED levels 2 and 3)
  • upper secondary education (ISCED 4);
  • higher/tertiary education (ISCED levels 5, 6, 7 and 8).

Pre-school education is provided in nurseries and children centres (years 0-5) (years 0-4 in N. Ireland).

Primary education is offered in schools:

  • from age 4 for 7 years in N. Ireland; or
  • from age 5 for 6 years in England and Wales; and
  • from age 5 for 7 years in Scotland.

Secondary school starts after completion of primary schooling. Lower secondary programmes last:

  • three years (grades 7-9) (Key Stage 3) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; or
  • two years (grades 8-9) (National 1-4/Intermediate 1) in Scotland.

Upper secondary programmes (grades 10 and 11) are available to learners over 14. (Key Stage 4 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 5/ Intermediate 2 in Scotland).

[….]

Education or training is compulsory from the age of 5 (4 in N. Ireland) up to age 16 (18 in England).

There is a range of education and training providers within the UK VET sector. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, providers include lower secondary schools, school sixth forms, sixth form colleges ([22]Sixth form programmes are offered in years 12 and 13 in secondary general of vocational (college-based) programmes to often acquire an A level (EQF 4), but also vocational qualifications at the same level:
https://www.aoc.co.uk/sixth-form-colleges
), further education (FE) colleges ([23]See
https://www.gov.uk/further-education-courses. Further education colleges are accessible to both young people below 18 and adults; programmes include general academic study, key competences, general vocational programmes, study that may be focused on a specific sector as well as off-the-job apprenticeship training.
) and higher education institutions (HEIs) in addition to private training organisations and work-based learning providers ([24]See also Section VET governance/education providers for a full list of all education providers in the UK and the devolved administrations.).

Most VET programmes can be accessed from age 15/16, although learners can be introduced to VET earlier after dropping out of compulsory schooling or combining vocational subjects with general secondary study. Vocational education and training (VET) is available at secondary and higher education levels in the UK; (EQF levels 2 to 7).

Vocational education and training (VET) is available at secondary and higher education levels in the UK; (EQF levels 2 to 7). Most VET qualifications are taken at EQF level 3 and EQF 4 ([25]See also:
https://www.gov.uk/further-education-courses
) in the further education (FE) sector ([26]FE programmes are accessible to learners over 16 (end of compulsory schooling); a great number of adult learners follow such programmes.).

VET qualifications exist in a wide variety of sectors and prepare learners for work and further study. Programme duration varies by subject area, level of study and type of learning and is between one and four years.

School-based VET is provided in schools and colleges and includes:

  • predominantly school-based programmes that combine general academic study with VET elements;
  • broad VET programmes ([27]Broad vocational programmes cover a field of employment rather than an occupation. For example, students can take BTEC national qualifications in areas such as sport or performing arts.);
  • specialist occupational programmes;
  • work-based learning (technical and occupational learning) may take place both in a VET provider setting and a workplace, in the following forms:
    • (school) workshops;
    • in-company training for VET learners;
    • on-the-job apprenticeship training.

Learning options in formal (school-based) VET:

  • full-time;
  • part-time (evening classes;
  • distance learning;
  • in-company training on a block- or day-release basis;
  • combined with an apprenticeship, where technical and occupational learning takes place:
    • on the job,
    • of the job.

Apprentices are employed and are taught core, transferable skills. A national qualification is awarded upon completion ([28]See Section: Apprenticeships.).

Adult and continuing education is part of the formal education system, but is also offered as non-formal training by employers and training providers:

  • in formal VET, the same learning options apply for adults as for minor learners:
    • full-time;
    • part-time;
    • dual (apprenticeship) learning;
  •  
    • distance learning;
  • non-formal training is delivered:
    • on-the job;
    • off-the job.

Main vocational qualifications offered in the UK ([29]See also table UK national qualifications frameworks in relation to the EQF in Section
8. VET governance; and the
European inventory of NQF 2018
)

In England, Northern Ireland and Wales:

  • GCSEs: General Certificate of Secondary Education (RQF/CQFW levels 1 and 2 corresponding to EQF levels 2 and 3 respectively). GCSEs in vocational subjects are available in all three countries;
  • BTEC: Business and Technology Education Council qualifications RQF level 2 are offered in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (see also; Pearson What is a BTEC?)
    • BTEC Awards;
    • BTEC National Awards;
    • BTEC First Awards. (Pearson. About BTEC Firsts);
    • BTEC certificates;
    • BTEC Diplomas.
  • NVQ: National Vocational Qualifications are competence-based, practically oriented qualifications that are based on National Occupational Standards and often assessed in the work place. NVQs sit within the RQF (Regulated qualifications framework in England and N. Ireland in place since 2015) and CQFW (Credit and qualifications framework of Wales).

In Scotland:

  • SVQ: Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are competence-based, practically oriented qualifications that are based on National Occupational Standards and often assessed in the work place. SVQs sit within the SCQF(Scottish credit and qualifications framework).
  • National Certificates are offered in both vocational and academic subjects mostly in full-time education
  • NPAs: National Progression Awards are usually short, more flexible programmes for employees or people returning to work, though are also taken as part of a wider curriculum of qualifications within the school or college setting

[National Certificates and National Progression Awards are National Qualifications Group Awards in which students accumulate credits towards distinctive group awards (EQF level 3 programmes). They allow entry to more advanced study and employment.]

  • Professional Development Awards
  • HNCs: Higher National Certificate
  • HNDs: Higher National Diploma

Recent developments ([30]See also Section: VET governance/apprenticeships.)

Apprenticeships in the UK are offered as basic training at secondary level to advanced education and training at higher education level. The table below shows at which levels training is available.

 

NQFs and apprenticeship levels in relation to the EQF

NB: EQF: European qualifications framework.
CQFW: Credit and qualifications framework of Wales.
NQF: National qualifications framework.
RQF: Regulated qualifications framework in England and N. Ireland.
SCQF: Scottish credit and qualifications framework.
Source: ReferNet UK, 2018.

 

Apart from the new apprenticeship standards in England ([31]In England most apprenticeship frameworks are in the process of being replaced by new apprenticeship standards developed by groups of employers from 2015/16. The new standards are currently run in parallel with the frameworks and comprise on-the-job and off-the-job training and learning, linked to specific occupations, and apprentices are assessed by an independent assessor from industry or a separate training provider to the one the student attended at the end of the training.) it is the qualifications within the apprenticeship frameworks that are benchmarked to the NQFs ([32]National qualifications frameworks.), not the frameworks as a whole.

All UK apprentices are employed and off-the-job training is available from colleges and independent training providers and training organisations with which colleges subcontract. Independent training providers must be registered with the Register of Training Organisations to be eligible to deliver education and training services under the adult education budget in England.

-------------

Learn more about apprenticeships in the national context from the European database on apprenticeship schemes by Cedefop: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/apprenticeship-schemes/scheme-fiches

Governance of VET in the UK rests with the UK Government and Government departments in the Devolved Administrations ([33]The UK Government has devolved decision-making powers in a number of areas of policy responsibility to the Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, such as governance for all levels and types of education, including VET. Whilst there are similarities between the systems in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, reforms are creating greater divergence and the Scottish system has always been significantly different in many ways to those of the rest of the UK.). Devolved Government legislation does not include detailed regulations, such as lists of approved qualifications, but the law provides for the respective

Government Ministers to issue the lists following advice from the relevant advisory body.

VET regulators and inspection/accreditation agencies in formal VET

Different inspection and review bodies exist in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; they are list in the table below:

England

Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) - school, further education and non-degree higher education qualifications

Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) – schools and further education colleges

Scotland

Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) - school, further education and higher education qualifications not awarded by HEIs

Education Scotland - schools and further education colleges

Wales

Qualifications Wales - school, further education and non-degree higher education qualifications

Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales (Estyn) - schools and further education colleges

Northern Ireland

Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) - school, further education and non-degree higher education qualifications

Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) – schools, further education colleges and other providers delivering publicly-funded training programmes

Source: ReferNet UK.

In England, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) holds responsibility for inspection of schools and further education colleges. Ofsted considers the overall effectiveness of the outcomes for learners, the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, in addition to the effectiveness of leadership and management. Schools and colleges are inspected by Education Scotland in Scotland, Estyn in Wales and the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) in Northern Ireland. Education Scotland evaluates the outcomes and impact of education provision, the service delivery, as well as the vision and leadership of providers. Estyn reports on the quality of education and training provided, the standards achieved by students, and whether colleges provide value for money. ETI Northern Ireland focuses on the learners’ achievements, the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and the quality and effectiveness of the leadership and management of the curriculum.

Higher education provided at UK further education (FE) colleges is subject to quality review by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and QAA Scotland through their Higher Education Review that involves peer review, student involvement, as well as analysis of core and thematic elements.

In Scotland, HE in the form of HNCs ([34]Higher national certificate.) and HNDs ([35]Higher national diploma.) in tertiary colleges is subject to inspection and review by Education Scotland, not QAA Scotland. However, for those colleges which are constituent parts of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) or Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), their HNC and HND provision is subject to inspection and review by Education Scotland and review by QAA Scotland.

The Integrated Quality Enhancement Review methodology in Northern Ireland includes peer review, developmental engagement and summative review.

The Hazelkorn report ([36]Welsh Government (2016).
A framework for building a world-class post-compulsory education system for Wales [accessed 15.11.2018].
) recommends creating a new single body for regulation, oversight and co-ordination for the entire post-compulsory education and training sector in Wales. The Welsh Government White Paper Public Good and a Prosperous Wales – Building a reformed PCET system ([37]Welsh Government (2017).
Public good and a prosperous Wales: building a reformed PCET system [accessed 15.11.2018].
) set out how the new body, referred to as the Tertiary Education and Research Commission, would manage allocating resources, assuring and assessing quality, monitoring and managing performance and risk, regulation of the system and accreditation of institutions as well as strategic planning, co-ordinating, steering and providing advice of policy including a responsibility for research and innovation which all is envisaged to form a more coherent and integrated post-compulsory system.

National qualifications frameworks

Formal VET in the UK is organised within several national qualifications frameworks. The Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) was introduced in England and Northern Ireland in 2015 and encompasses academic and vocational qualifications. The RQF gives awarding organisations increased freedom and flexibility to develop qualifications that meet specific labour market needs. Qualifications are now expected to be validated and supported directly by employers to ensure qualifications measure the knowledge and skills necessary for industry, rather than follow prescriptive rules and structures imposed by government agencies. Level descriptors have been revised, but the same eight framework levels (plus entry levels, see table below) remain from the previous Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), and the existing qualifications continue to be offered until they are withdrawn by the awarding organisation.

The Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW) also has the same levels as the QCF/RQF. The CQFW is a meta framework which comprises three pillars. These are regulated qualifications, higher education qualifications and lifelong learning qualifications, which include workplace continuing professional development and bespoke business training, as well as non-formal learning, recognition of prior learning (RPL), and assigned accreditation for learning.

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) comprises 12 levels and includes formal, and an increasing volume of non-formal qualifications.

The CQFW, SCQF and the previous QCF describe levels, qualifications and units in terms of learning outcomes as well as credits and notional learning hours. RQF qualifications have, from 31 December 2017, been described in terms of total qualification time ([38]Ofqual (2015).
Total qualification time criteria [accessed 22.2.2017].
) as credit allocation to units and qualifications is not compulsory within the RQF. National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are competence-based, practically oriented qualifications that are based on National Occupational Standards and often assessed in the work place. While NVQs sit within the RQF and CQFW, SVQs sit within the SCQF.

The UK qualifications frameworks correspond to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) as described in the table below.

UK national qualifications frameworks in relation to the EQF

EQF

RQF

SCQF

CQFW

8

8

12

8

7

7

11

7

6

6

10/9

6

5

5/4

8/7

5/4

4

3

6

3

3

2

5

2

2

1

4

1

1

Entry 3

3

Entry 3

 

Entry 2

2

Entry 2

 

Entry 1

1

Entry 1

Source: QAA (2014). Qualifications can cross boundaries: a guide to comparing qualifications in the UK and Ireland [accessed 4.6.2019].

There is not always an automatic right to progression from one level to the next within the frameworks as education providers retain the right to set the entry requirements to individual qualifications based on individual awarding organisations’ (see also ‘Shaping qualifications – design’) requirements. However, the unit-based structure of many qualifications opens up the possibilities for validation of prior learning and transfer of credit between qualifications (see section Validation of prior learning).

RQF levels are still to be referenced to EQF levels. An update on developments in England and Northern Ireland was presented in the EQF advisory group in February 2019, and an updated referencing report to reference the RQF and FHEQ to the EQF is planned to be presented in June 2019 ([39]Source: Cedefop (2019). European inventory on NQF 2018: UK - England and Northern Ireland, p. 16.
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_england_and_northern_ireland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf
); an updated referencing report has been prepared by the SCQF Partnership and presented to the EQF advisory group in December 2018 ([40]Source: Cedefop (2019). European inventory on NQF 2018: UK- Scotland, p.14.
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_scotland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf
); Wales is currently in the process of updating the referencing report due to the changes in the level descriptors, the creation of Qualification Wales and the changes to quality assurance in higher education. This report will be presented to the EQF advisory group in June 2019 ([41]Source: Cedefop (2019). European inventory on NQF 2018: UK- Wales, p.15.
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_wales_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf
).

Apprenticeships in England ([42]See also section ‘ apprenticeships’)

The latest reform of apprenticeships in England is based on the Richard Review (2012). New apprenticeship standards are being developed by employer-led consortia (Trailblazer groups) ([43]See also: Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education: Trailblazer apprenticeship groups:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-develop-an-apprenticeship-standard-guide-for-trailblazers [accessed 26.8.2019].
) and the quality of the standards are being regulated by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education ([44]Changed name as of 31 January 2019:
https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/about/news-events/name-change-ushers-in-exciting-new-dawn-for-t-levels-preparations/
) (see section Quality assurance). New apprenticeships must include a work contract and at least 20% off-the-job training in addition to English and mathematics, but there is no longer a requirement to include an occupational qualification within the programme. Standards are linked to single professions and the unit-based structure of the previous apprenticeship frameworks has been replaced with holistic end-point assessment. The new apprenticeship standards are currently being phased in and run in parallel with the previous frameworks.

Policy making authorities

There is a complex institutional framework in the UK VET sector with the Department for Education (DfE) having policy-making responsibilities in England; the policy-making authorities for VET in Northern Ireland are the Department of Education (DE) and the Department for the Economy, in Wales the body is the Welsh Government’s Department for Education and Public Services and Department for Economy, Skills and Infrastructure, and, in Scotland, the Department of Learning and the Department of Lifelong Learning of the Scottish Government are responsible. The table below presents an overview of policy making authorities in the UK VET sector.

England

Department for Education (DfE) – all levels of education

Scotland

Scottish Government – all levels of education

Wales

Welsh Government – all levels of education

Northern Ireland

Department of Education (DE) – schools and teacher training

Department for the Economy – further education colleges and higher education

Source: ReferNet UK.

Education (and training) providers

There is a range of education and training providers within the UK VET sector. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, providers include lower secondary schools, school sixth forms, sixth form colleges ([45]Sixth form programmes are offered in years 12 and 13 in secondary general of vocational (college-based) programmes to often acquire an A level (EQF 4), but also vocational qualifications at the same level (
https://www.aoc.co.uk/sixth-form-colleges).
), further education (FE) colleges ([46]See
https://www.gov.uk/further-education-courses. Further education colleges are accessible to both young people below 18 and adults; programmes include general academic study, key competences, general vocational programmes, study that may be focused on a specific sector as well as off-the-job apprenticeship training.
) and higher education institutions (HEIs) in addition to private training organisations and work-based learning providers. An overview of education providers is presented in the table below.

England

Schools/academies – general academic and vocational secondary education

Further education colleges – secondary and tertiary VET

Independent training providers – secondary and tertiary VET

Higher education institutions – higher vocational education

Scotland

Schools – general academic and vocational secondary education

Tertiary colleges – secondary and tertiary VET

Private training providers – secondary and tertiary VET

Higher education institutions – higher vocational education

Wales

Schools – general academic and vocational secondary education

Further education institutions – secondary and tertiary VET

Colleges – secondary and tertiary VET

Higher education institutions – higher vocational education

Northern Ireland

Schools – general academic and vocational secondary education

Further education colleges – secondary and tertiary VET

Private, community and voluntary sector providers – secondary and post-secondary VET

Training organisations - – secondary and tertiary VET

Higher education institutions – higher vocational education

Source: ReferNet UK.

In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, FE colleges represent the largest group of VET providers, offering education to learners that are predominantly 16 years old and upwards, including a large number of adult learners. FE colleges offer vocational learning at entry level (EQF 2) through to higher VET (EQF level 7). Students may attend FE colleges on a full-time or part-time basis and combine the study with an apprenticeship.

In Scotland, VET is mostly offered in colleges providing vocational secondary from EQF level 2 and higher education and by private training providers, but also in secondary schools (EQF 2 – 4) and higher education institutions (HEIs). The recent introduction of graduate apprenticeships ([47]Degree apprenticeships (in Scotland: Higher and Graduate apprenticeships) create a different pathway to obtaining university degrees. Whilst academic ability, including grades and numerical and reasoning skills are considered by the university or college, candidates are also interviewed for a job with a company (unless they are already employed with the company). Both employers and universities must be satisfied the applicant meets their respective requirements. There may therefore be a joint recruitment process.) means that VET is now increasingly being provided by HEIs in Scotland.

A large number of colleges exist in the UK, but many have in recent years merged to form larger regional units, a process that is still on-going in England.

University Technical Colleges (UTCs) (EQF 2-4) are VET institutions for 14-19 year olds in England. UTCs are formed through partnerships between universities, colleges and businesses to match national curriculum requirements to local needs and include work placements. UTCs combine core skills with early subject specialisation and links to higher education. Similarly, Studio Schools have been introduced in 2010([48]UK NARIC (2014).
Innovation in VET and the concept of Studio Schools A report prepared within Cedefop ReferNet network.
) for the same age range in England. These are small institutions offering vocational qualifications (at EQF levels 2-4), general qualifications (such as GCSEs) ([49]General Certificate of Secondary Education (RQF/CQFW levels 1 and 2 corresponding to EQF levels 2 and 3 respectively). See also:
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_england_and_northern_ireland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2016.pdf
) as well as teaching through enterprise projects and work placements ([50]UK NARIC (2014).
Innovation in VET and the concept of Studio Schools A report prepared within Cedefop ReferNet network.
).

To meet labour market demand for higher technical skills, a network of Institutes of Technology is being created in England focussed on skills development at qualifications framework levels 3-5 (EQF 4-5). These institutes will be sponsored by employers, registered with professional bodies and aligned with apprenticeship standards, and be both empowered and expected to design clear routes to employment in cooperation with employers and professional organisations. Moreover, funding from the government and employers was confirmed for five National Colleges in 2016. These National Colleges will focus on delivering technical skills at levels 4 to 6 (EQF levels 5-6) in the areas of digital skills, high speed rail, nuclear, creative and cultural, and onshore oil and gas.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is an executive agency sponsored by the DfE in England. Aside from funding learners aged between 3 and 19 and adult further education and skills training, the ESFA supports the building and maintenance programmes for schools, academies ([51]See also
https://www.gov.uk/types-of-school/academies
), free schools ([52]See also
https://www.gov.uk/types-of-school/free-schools
) and sixth-form colleges. A simplified, learner-led funding system is in place since 2013/14. Much of school-based VET is Government funded, but employers fund an increasing part of workplace training, such as in-company training and learning through specialist consultants and agencies.

An apprenticeship levy was introduced in 2017 to create long-term, sustainable investment in apprenticeships ([53]The levy is paid across the whole UK and a proportion of funding is distributed to all four nations according to population; however, the portions allocated to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not need to be used exclusively to fund apprenticeships and can be allocated to other VET training needs.). The levy is paid by all large employers in the UK with a paybill of over £3m a year. Levy payers and non-levy paying employers are able to access funding to support their apprenticeship training. In England a growing number of education providers now receive funding directly from the Government rather than through local authorities. These are academies, free schools, university technical colleges and studio schools (see section Apprenticeships). Privately funded training providers also operate within the UK VET sector.

The Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council, commonly known as the Scottish Funding Council, is the strategic body for the funding of teaching, learning, research and other activities across all levels of tertiary education in Scotland. Public (VET) schools are funded through and accountable to local authorities, with one exception being directly funded by the Scottish Government. Skills Development Scotland funds Modern apprenticeship programmes and other government funded programmes of learning.

Funding of VET in the Northern Ireland further education sector and for providers of specific Government-funded programmes is the responsibility of the Department for the Economy.

VET funding in Wales is traditionally the responsibility of the Welsh Government and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (also sponsored by the Welsh Government). In January 2014 the Welsh Government published its Policy statement on skills which set out its long term vision for employment and skills policy in Wales. This work was supplemented by the development of the Framework for co-investment in skills, also introduced in 2014, which sets out the principles for government and employer investment in skills ([54]Welsh Government (2014).
Framework for co-investment in skills [accessed 15.11.2018].
). The framework aims to provide a foundation for shifting the emphasis from a government-led approach to skills investment to a system influenced and led by employers. The investment made by employers, supported by the co-investment framework, will place them in a stronger position to challenge the skills system in Wales.

Learning opportunities for vulnerable groups (targeted measures)

Formal VET targeted at vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, such as people with disabilities and learning difficulties are mostly offered in the same providers as other students; however, additional funding is available.

Lifelong Learning Partnerships (LLPs) consist of a variety of education providers ranging from voluntary sector providers to further and higher education institutions as well as employers and trade unions. LLPs often reach out to disadvantaged communities and assist disadvantaged learners to engage with education and training again.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) updated its Equalities Action Plan for Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland and the Equality Challenge Fund in 2017 ([55]SDS (2017).
Equalities action plan for modern apprenticeships in Scotland [accessed 19.2.2019].
) for projects aimed at widening access to Modern apprenticeships. Organisations including charities, colleges and training providers have received funding to help boost Modern apprenticeship numbers among under-represented groups such as individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds, disabled people and care leavers as well as tackling gender imbalance in certain sectors. The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) outcome agreements require colleges and universities to produce access and inclusion strategies that define their inclusive practices and the impact this has on learners. The SFC expects colleges to evidence how they use funds to support students with educational support needs, including disabled students, to ensure they have an equal chance of successfully completing their programme of study ([56]Scottish Government (2016).
A fairer Scotland for disabled people See also: Scottish Funding Council (2016).
Guidance for the development of College Outcome Agreements: 2017-18 to 2019-20 [accessed 15.11.2018].
).

Incentives for providers

VET providers across England continue to have the freedom and flexibility to determine how they use their adult education budget (AEB), working with Local Enterprise Partnerships and local commissioners to determine what the appropriate distribution of funding should be to best meet local needs. From 2019/20 academic year, approximately 50% of the AEB will be devolved to six Mayoral Combined Authorities and delegated to the Greater London Authority who will be responsible for commissioning and funding AEB provision for learners resident in their areas.

The Scottish Funding Council bases funding of VET providers on Outcome Agreements with colleges and universities. These Agreements include learner retention, articulation and progression into further and higher education and other positive destinations, such as employment. More emphasis within the Outcome Agreements is now being put on areas including widening access, gender, skills, innovation and apprenticeships.

In VET, categories of teachers and trainers are:

  • FE teaching staff ([57]Those teaching in FE colleges are usually referred to as lecturers (VET teachers) and those teaching work-based learning are normally called VET trainers.) in England are called teachers, trainers, lecturers, tutors, assessors, advisors and instructors;
  • teaching staff in the VET sector in Northern Ireland use the professional titles of lecturer, teacher, trainer, tutor and assessor;
  • teaching staff in the Scottish VET sector use the professional titles of teacher, lecturer, tutor, assessor and trainer;
  • VET teaching staff in Wales use the professional titles of lecturers, teachers, tutors, assessors and trainers.

Different training and registration requirements exist at secondary education level to further and higher education level across the UK:

In England VET teachers working in maintained secondary schools must meet the requirements of the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA), which includes a degree level qualification, GCSE ([58]General Certificate of Secondary Education (RQF/CQFW levels 1 and 2 corresponding to EQF levels 2 and 3 respectively); see also:
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_england_and_northern_ireland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2016.pdf
) level subjects in English, mathematics and science in addition to obtaining Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and completing an induction year. The same statutory requirement to hold QTS is not in place for VET teachers employed by publicly-funded free schools and some academies.

In Wales, those training to teach in local authority funded secondary schools are required to gain QTS and complete an induction period by meeting professional standards set by the Welsh Government. There is also a requirement in Wales to complete an undergraduate or postgraduate programme of Initial Teacher Education, which includes assessment against the QTS (Qualified Teacher Status). In addition there are minimum requirements for GCSE attainment including a standard equivalent to a grade B in the GCSE examination in English and/or Welsh and in mathematics.

Those teaching in FE colleges ([59]See
https://www.gov.uk/further-education-courses. Further education colleges are accessible to both young people below 18 and adults; programmes include general academic study, key competences, general vocational programmes, study that may be focused on a specific sector as well as off-the-job apprenticeship training.
) in the UK are usually referred to as lecturers (VET teachers) and those teaching work-based learning are normally called VET trainers. In England the criteria to teach at FE level are flexible in line with the criteria for teaching at higher education level, where the education provider decides upon the suitability of the teaching staff. Only voluntary professional registration exists (with the Society for Education and Training) ([60]Professional membership organisation for teachers and trainers in the UK. See:
https://set.et-foundation.co.uk/
). Advice about professional standards for teachers and trainers in education and training in England is provided by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) ([61]European training foundation (2014).
Professional standards for teachers and trainers in education and training – England [accessed 15.11.2018].
). In England it is not mandatory to obtain Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status to teach in FE colleges, but it can be beneficial for teachers that also wish to teach at secondary level in maintained schools.

Teaching qualifications for the FE sector in England are available from higher education institutions and Ofqual-recognised awarding organisations ([62]Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation:
https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofqual
). Teacher training also takes place in-house, and in both colleges for further and higher education. Associate Teachers work with less responsibility than Full Teachers/Lecturers in terms of curriculum development and delivery. In the FE sector, Associate Teachers are often known as instructors or trainers and should work under the supervision of a Full Teacher. FE lecturers in Northern Ireland must possess a degree level qualification or a qualification at QCF level 5 ([63]QCF qualifications (N. Ireland, see also Section
8. VET governance) continue to be offered until they are withdrawn by the awarding organisation.
) in a subject area relevant to the subject taught, plus three years relevant industrial experience. Lecturers must also possess or be enrolled in a teaching qualification, such as the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) (FE). In Wales, lecturers are required to hold a Certificate of Education, PGCE (FE) qualifications or Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and those employed as teachers in institutions in the FE sector in Wales are required to have, or to be working toward, these relevant teaching qualifications.

In Scotland, teachers must be registered with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), which sets the standards and qualifications required by teachers for professional practice. Scottish secondary VET teachers must hold a first degree, a teaching qualification such as the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE), or an undergraduate equivalent, such as the Bachelor of Education (BEd) or a concurrent degree, where a teaching qualification is studied alongside another specialism, e.g. a science or English. Additionally, English or English as a second or other language at Higher (SCQF ([64]Scottish credit and qualifications framework.) level 6/EQF level 4) and mathematics or applications of mathematics at National 5 (SCQF level 5) level is a mandatory requirement. The Scottish College for Educational Leadership provides programmes of learning for teachers after they have qualified; most notably the new Into Headship programme at SCQF level 11 (EQF 7) will be mandatory for all new head teachers from 2019. VET Trainers and VET teachers/lecturers in tertiary colleges do not need to register with the GTCS, although it is desirable and strongly suggested by the Inspectorate of Education – Education Scotland. It is moreover considered preferential to hold a GTCS recognised further education teaching qualification or be working towards one.

The Education Workforce Council (EWC) is the independent regulator in Wales for VET teachers in local authority funded schools, further education (FE) VET teachers and learning support staff in both school and FE settings. From April 2015, the requirement for professional registration was extended to FE teachers, and from April 2016 registration is also compulsory for school/FE learning support workers. Secondary VET teachers must possess a university degree, GCSE ([65]General Certificate of Secondary Education (RQF/CQFW levels 1 and 2 corresponding to EQF levels 2 and 3 respectively). See also:
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_england_and_northern_ireland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2016.pdf
) subjects and a teaching qualification.

FE VET teacher qualifications available in England, N Ireland and Wales include the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE for FE), which is a postgraduate programme leading to Full Teacher status, and in England the Level 3 Award in Education and Training, which is a short introduction to FE teaching, the Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training, and the Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training, which is the minimum qualification needed to obtain Full Teacher status.

There is no legal requirement for teachers in FE in England and N Ireland to complete CPD. On average, teachers completed 15 hours of CPD per year ([66]https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/continuing-professional-development-teachers-and-trainers-working-adult-education-and-78_en)

The Education and Training Foundation operates in England to improve professionalism and standards in the FE and skills sector and provides opportunities for CPD. Ofsted is the inspection agency for the quality of teacher education in England.

The Scottish College for Educational Leadership provides programmes of learning for teachers after they have qualified; most notably the new Into Headship programme at SCQF level 11 (EQF 7) will be mandatory for all new head teachers from 2019. In Scotland, it is recommended that VET teachers undertake six days of CPD annually ([67]https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/continuing-professional-development-teachers-and-trainers-working-adult-education-and-80_en)

In Wales, FE teachers should undertake 30 hours of CPD annually.

More information is available in the Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspective on teachers and trainers ([68]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/teachers-and-trainers).

Various methods are in place to anticipate skill needs:

  • the Labour Force Survey (LFS) results, published regularly by the Office for National Statistics, contain labour market statistics;
  • other national, regional and sectoral surveys and audits, such as the Employer Skills Survey ([69]Department for Education (2018).
    Employer Skills Survey 2017: UK [accessed 12.10.2018].
    ) and Working Futures ([70]UKCES (2016).
    Working Futures 2014 to 2024 [accessed 22.2.2017].
    ), used along with the LFS to determine labour market needs and gaps;
  • skills audits and surveys of employers’ opinions.

Other stakeholders involved in providing information and recommendations for skills provision include:

  • the Confederation of British Industry, whose research anticipates a growing skills gap with a particular need for higher level skills ([71]CBI/Pearson (2016).
    The right combination [accessed 22.2.2017].
    );
  • the Department for Education (DfE) launched a model to anticipate future demand for, and cost of, apprenticeships in initial and continuing VET in a system driven by employer demand in 2017 ([72]Department for Education (2017).
    Long-term apprenticeship model appraisal [accessed 15.11.2018]
    );
  • the Long-term Apprenticeship Model forecasts apprenticeship starts and costs for both levy and non-levy paying employers.

Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) are independent, employer-led organisations working towards defining skills needs and skills standards in their industries. National Occupational Standards (NOS) ([73]See Section
12. Shaping VET qualifications - design.
) have been developed by SSCs and Standards Setting Organisations working with employers and national and regional organisations to specify competences required in the workplace.

In England, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) work towards improving local needs and bring together local and regional stakeholders in business and local authorities. LEPs and the new powers to English cities in the Localism Act are designed to give more freedom and a greater voice to local enterprises, in order to create a more demand-led qualification and skills system with a local focus.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has developed Skills Investment Plans for key sectors in collaboration with Industry Leadership Groups and other key industry players by analysing labour market and skills supply research. Regional Skills Assessment Plans take into consideration regional challenges and opportunities. The Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning Analytical Services Unit is part of the Scottish Government and conducts research that supports policy developments in VET, higher education and lifelong learning. Topics for research include skills shortages and gaps and training opportunities. In Wales these functions are carried out by Knowledge and Analytical Services and the Labour Market Information Unit within the Welsh Government.

The Department for the Economy requires further education colleges in Northern Ireland to submit annual development plans in line with the Government’s priorities and adhere to Public Service Agreements and Funded Learning Unit models regarding finances in relation to strategic priorities. The skills barometer project built a model to estimate future skill needs and gaps by level, sector and subject area across a range of economic outcomes ([74]The project was undertaken as part of a three-year sponsorship arrangement between the Department for the Economy and the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre.).

VET qualifications - designers and concepts

The Regulated Qualifications Framework (England and N. Ireland) removed the requirements to structure qualifications in terms of units and learning outcomes ([75]The RQF gives awarding organisations increased freedom and flexibility to develop qualifications that meet specific labour market needs. Qualifications are now expected to be validated and supported directly by employers to ensure qualifications measure the knowledge and skills necessary for industry, rather than follow prescriptive rules and structures imposed by government agencies. Level descriptors have been revised, but the same eight framework levels (plus entry levels, see Table UK national qualifications frameworks in relation to the EQF in section
8) remain from the previous qualifications and credit framework (QCF), and the existing qualifications continue to be offered until they are withdrawn by the awarding organisation.
); however, qualifications currently available are largely unit- and outcomes-based and allow for flexibility in delivery of training, except for new apprenticeships in England ([76]In England most apprenticeship frameworks are in the process of being replaced by new apprenticeship standards developed by groups of employers from 2015/16. The new standards are currently run in parallel with the frameworks and comprise on-the-job and off-the-job training and learning, linked to specific occupations, and apprentices are assessed by an independent assessor from industry or a separate training provider to the one the student attended at the end of the training.).

The qualification frameworks in Scotland and Wales continue to be learning outcomes and unit based. Adult learning in particular is often centred on individual learners’ needs both in terms of content and delivery method. Training programmes aimed at young people usually follow a more standardised structure. Qualifications and their broad content, unit and credit structure, learning outcomes and assessment standards are developed by independent awarding organisations in line with regulators’ regulatory requirements and industry experts’ and other stakeholders’ input.

Assessment of VET qualifications

Study programmes leading to formal qualifications at secondary and tertiary, non-university level are internally assessed within education providers and workplaces if appropriate, but are not awarded until assessments have been externally verified by awarding organisations (also called examination boards) in the UK. Education providers that are registered as examination centres by one or more awarding organisations can conduct examinations for qualifications awarded by these awarding organisations.

Assessment of practical training

Work-based learning is also assessed in workplaces by qualified assessors. Assessors are usually trained staff with industry experience and knowledge of assessment approaches. In order to assess some qualifications, the assessors are required to possess relevant assessor qualifications as well.

Apprentices completing the new apprenticeship standards in England ([77]See Section
7. Apprenticeships
) are assessed at the end of the programme of training by an Independent End Point Assessor who is required to have up-to-date and thorough knowledge and experience of the specific occupation and ideally possess a Level 3 (EQF 4) assessor qualification.

Validation of prior learning is also possible, see Section 14. Validation of prior learning

Awarding bodies

Awarding organisations are also responsible for awarding the final qualifications and organising external moderation of student achievement. These organisations are recognised to operate in England and Northern Ireland by Ofqual and CCEA ([78]Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment.) Regulation respectively. Recognised Awarding Organisations are entitled to award accredited qualifications which are listed in the Register of Regulated Qualifications and part of the RQF.

Awarding organisations with approved qualifications registered on the CQFW ([79]Credit and qualifications framework of Wales.) must be recognised by Qualifications Wales and are listed on the Qualifications in Wales database.

The main awarding organisation in Scotland is the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), which is a quasi-autonomous non-departmental public body and fulfils the roles of both an awarding body and an accreditation body. There are mechanisms in place to manage the potential conflict of interest between both parts of SQA; the Awarding Body is directly accountable to Scottish Government Ministers and the Accreditation function (SQA Accreditation) is accountable to a statutory Accreditation Committee and thence the Scottish Government. There are also a considerable number of other awarding organisations (including all higher education institutions with degree awarding powers) offering qualifications within the SCQF and also other organisations awarding qualifications often subject to accreditation by SQA Accreditation.

Occupational standards design - the role of employers

Most education and training programmes for young people that are publicly funded lead to a formally recognised qualification. This is part of the quality control process of VET. Education providers create curricula and deliver qualifications created by awarding organisations.

Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) ([80]Independent, employer-led organisations working towards defining skills needs and skills standards in their industries.) and other standard setting organisations, in association with employers, develop, maintain and update National Occupational Standards (NOS) to specify competences required to perform occupations and professions. NOS consist of units describing what individuals must be able to do, know and understand to perform specific jobs. NVQs/SVQs ([81]National vocational qualifications / Scottish vocational qualifications.) and many other vocationally related qualifications are entirely or largely based on NOS or, if relevant, learning outcomes that need to be met for certification. NOS are reviewed to ensure programmes and qualifications include new technologies, innovations and working methods used in the labour market. The Government in England have no longer been mandating the use of NOS within their vocational qualifications system after the end of 2016; however, qualifications designers in England can continue to use NOS if they wish. The development and review of NOS are still continued by the three Devolved Administrations, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Following the change from state funding of the SSCs to self-funded organisations, only the most effective SSCs that are valued by industry have remained operational.

National Skills Academies (NSAs) are employer-led organisations developing the infrastructure and learning resources needed to deliver specialist skills to industry sectors in England. NSAs also strive for training programmes resources to be up-to-date and relevant in the current job market.

VET reform in England - more direct employer engagement in VET design ([82]Department for Education (2018).
Introduction of T levels: policy paper [accessed 15.11.2018]. See also: Institute for Apprenticeships (2019).
What is an apprenticeship standard? [accessed 15.11.2018].
). The design process of VET is changing in England by moving away from a system in which a large number of awarding organisations develop qualifications based on National Occupational Standards (NOS) to a system where the outline content of new vocational qualifications (T levels) based on the knowledge, skills and behaviours related to occupations will be developed by employer-led consortia within 15 main technical routes. New apprenticeship standards (Trailblazers) are already being developed within the same 15 pathways. T level qualifications will be developed by a single awarding organisation for each of the occupational pathways. T levels, designed to be delivered in classroom-based settings, will be phased in from 2020 whilst apprenticeship trailblazers are currently run in parallel with the traditional apprenticeship frameworks.

The Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board (SAAB) is led by employers to strengthen their engagement in apprenticeships and aims to ensure that apprenticeships will be closely linked to areas of economic growth and job opportunities. SAAB oversees the development of apprenticeship frameworks and standards. The Wales Apprenticeship Advisory Board, have taken up a key role in developing policy objectives to ensure that apprenticeships are aligned to changing needs of the industry in Wales.

The Strategic Partnership strategy provides the background for UK Government financed projects in which enterprises, employer federations, trade unions, trade associations, public bodies and other stakeholders collaborate to solve sectoral and regional issues including learning and skills.

Strategic development of VET in England

Strategic development of skills and lifelong learning in England is the remit of the Department for Education (DfE). Design of future VET in England is influenced by reviews such as the Wolf Review of pre-19 vocational education, the Whitehead Review of Adult Vocational Qualifications ([83]Whitehead, N, UKCES (2013).
Review of adult vocational qualifications in England [accessed 15.11.2018].
) and the Richard Review of Apprenticeships ([84]Richard, D. (2012).
The Richard review of apprenticeships [accessed 22.2.2017].
). The former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published the Skills for Sustainable Growth strategy ([85]BIS (2010).
Skills for sustainable growth [accessed 15.11.2018].
) in response to the Wolf Review with details of a planned skills reform. The Plan for Growth ([86]HM Treasury and BIS (2011).
The Plan for growth [accessed 22.2.2017].
) strategy mentions that ‘the creation of a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe’ is one of the key skills actions and measures to be achieved. Rigour and Responsiveness in Skills sets out how Apprenticeship reforms, and funding only good quality VET in England, will be accelerated ([87]BIS/DfE (2013).
Rigour and responsiveness in skills [accessed 15.11.2018].
) (see VET learning options about Tech Levels and the Technical Baccalaureate under 4. EQF 4, ISCED 351, 354 [college-based VET]). Fixing the foundations – the UK Government’s productivity plan from 2015 – puts focus on the need to develop a highly skilled workforce to increase productivity ([88]BIS (2015).
Fixing the foundations[accessed 22.2.2017].
). Most recently the Post-16 Skills Plan sets out to streamline VET in England into 15 clear routes leading to skilled employment, either through two-year college courses or apprenticeships ([89]DfE/BIS (2016).
Post-16 skills plan [accessed 15.11.2018].
) as recommended in the Report of the Independent Panel on Technical Education ([90]Sainsbury, D. (2016).
Report of the Independent panel on technical education [accessed 15.11.2018].
).

Strategic development of VET in Scotland

The Scottish Government provides details of skills support in the Skills for Scotland: Accelerating the Recovery and Increasing Sustainable Economic Growth ([91]Scottish Government (2010).
Skills for Scotland: accelerating the recovery and increasing sustainable economic growth [accessed 15.11.2018].
), the Review of Post-16 Education and Vocational Training in Scotland ([92]Scottish Government (2011).
Review of post-16 education and vocational training in Scotland [accessed 15.11.2018].
), the National Youth Work Strategy ([93]Scottish Government (2014b).
National youth work strategy 2014-19 [accessed 22.2.2017].
) and Adult Learning in Scotland: Statement of Ambition ([94]Scottish Government (2014c).
Adult learning in Scotland, statement of ambition[accessed 22.2.2017].
). The Government started a reform of the post-16 education which aims to increase efficiency and flexibility in learner provision and value for money as well as better meet regional needs. A further aim is to simplify the skills system so it is easier to understand for both individuals and employers. The Curriculum for Excellence includes more skills-for-work options for young people in addition to a greater emphasis on entrepreneurship ([95]Scottish Government (2009).
Innovation for Scotland [accessed 15.11.2018].
). The group responsible for the review of the curriculum comprised representatives from national and local Government, Education Scotland, higher and further education institutions, schools and the Scottish Qualifications Authority in addition to business interest groups, teacher unions and parent organisations. The Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce’s final report ([96]Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce (2014).
Education working for all! Final report [accessed 15.11.2018].
) from June 2014 includes recommendations on preparing school leavers for work, college education focused on employment and progression in learning, Apprenticeships focused on higher level skills and industry needs, and engaging employers with education and recruiting young people.

Strategic development of VET in Wales

The Welsh Government’s Programme for Government emphasises the importance of skills development in relation to economic growth and sustainable jobs. Qualifications are developed according to the CQFW high level principles. Future VET will be shaped by the Review of Qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds in Wales ([97]Welsh Government (2012).
Review of qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds in Wales [accessed 22.2.2017].
) (see Section 2.2.3 regarding the Welsh Baccalaureate), the policy statement on skills ([98]Welsh Government (2014).
Policy statement on skills [accessed 22.2.2017].
) and the Welsh Government’s Skills implementation plan ([99]Welsh Government (2014).
Skills implementation plan [accessed 15.11.2018].
). The latter emphasises the importance of aligning skills provision with the current and future jobs market, local needs and employer engagement. Welsh Government published Towards 2030: a Framework for Building a World-Class Post-Compulsory Education System for Wales in March 2016 ([100]Welsh Government (2016).
A framework for building a world-class post-compulsory education system for Wales [accessed 15.11.2018].
). The report’s recommendations include the aim to develop clear and flexible learner-centred learning and career pathways and to introduce more state regulation into the current market-demand driven education system.

Strategic development of VET in Northern Ireland

The Department for Employment and Learning’s (now: Department for the Economy) vision for skills development is articulated within the Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland, Success through Skills – Transforming Futures ([101]DEL (2011).
Success through skills: transforming futures [accessed 4.6.2019].
), which sets the overarching strategy for the development of skills (including vocational education and training) in Northern Ireland. This strategy will be realised by focusing on those entering the labour force for the first time; up-skilling the existing workforce; and ensuring that those currently excluded from the labour force are provided with the skills to compete for jobs, retain jobs and progress up the skills ladder. To help achieve these ambitions, the Department works closely with the Department of Education to ensure there is a strong collaboration between schools, further education colleges, universities and employers.

Other reviews in Northern Ireland aiming to enhance and shape future VET policy include the new Northern Ireland Strategy for Apprenticeships ([102]DELNI (2014).
Securing our success: the Northern Ireland strategy on apprenticeships [accessed 4.6.2019].
) which recommends that Apprenticeships should be at least two years long and start from level 3 (EQF level 4) (see 3. EQF 4, ISCED 354 [Apprenticeship]). The Strategy for youth training from 2015 describes plans to create a baccalaureate-style curriculum that includes work-based learning that also replaces apprenticeship provision at level 2 ([103]Department for the Economy (2015).
Generating our success [accessed 15.11.2018].
). The 2016 Further Education (FE) Strategy gives colleges in Northern Ireland a major role in delivering apprenticeships and youth training as well as featuring prominently in strategic advisory forums and sectoral partnerships tasked with matching skills demand and delivery ([104]Department for the Economy (2016).
Further education means success [accessed 15.11.2018].
).

Strategies to support learning opportunities for vulnerable groups

In Wales, the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW) recognises lifelong learning such as vendor/industry/professional qualifications and smaller ‘bite size’ units of accredited learning. Such achievements can be highly positive and help to raise the aspirations of disadvantaged learners. The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) also recognises lifelong learning and bite size pieces of learning from all sectors and all types of organisations, including many aimed at disadvantaged and vulnerable learners. The SCQF includes two levels which are below level 1 of the EQF. At these levels the emphasis is placed on the learning which takes place as a result of learners’ participation in, and the experience of, situations as well as the carrying out of basic tasks. The inclusion of these lower levels allows the SCQF to be an inclusive NQF for all learners including those who may not have been successful in mainstream education.

The Northern Ireland Strategy for Further Education, Further Education Means Success published in January 2016, recommends that colleges, in partnership with organisations in the voluntary, community, public and private sectors, support diversity and social inclusion through widening access to provision for those with low or no skills or who experience other barriers to learning. The strategy commits the colleges to adopting international best practice in the use of technology enhanced learning to support and improve teaching and learning, and adopt flexible approaches to learning to meet the needs of learners and employers.

Additional funding for learning opportunities of vulnerable people is also available in England and Scotland in section: 9. VET financing mechanisms

Most education and training programmes for young people that are publicly funded lead to a formally recognised qualification. This is part of the quality control process of VET.

VET regulators and inspection/accreditation agencies in formal VET

Different inspection and review bodies exist in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; they are list in the table below (see also section 8 VET governance):

England

Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) - school, further education and non-degree higher education qualifications

Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) – schools and further education colleges

Scotland

Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) - school, further education and higher education qualifications not awarded by HEIs

Education Scotland - schools and further education colleges

Wales

Qualifications Wales - school, further education and non-degree higher education qualifications

Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales (Estyn) - schools and further education colleges

Northern Ireland

Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) - school, further education and non-degree higher education qualifications

Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) – schools, further education colleges and other providers delivering publicly-funded training programmes

Source: ReferNet UK.

QA arrangements for VET qualifications

Qualifications are designed and issued by independent awarding organisations. Those organisations set question papers or other assessments for their qualifications and examine candidates as well as reviewing examination centres’ assessment of candidates and reviewing and verifying the work and standards of the centres. The processes of external review of assessment in examination centres are often referred to as verification. Verification is conducted by qualified individuals with quality assurance of assessment qualifications at level 4 (EQF level 5).

During the review leading to the withdrawal of the regulatory arrangements for the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), for England, Ofqual ([105]The regulator of all vocational qualifications within the RQF (Regulated qualifications framework in England and N. Ireland).) removed the requirement for awarding organisations to submit new vocational qualifications for accreditation before they are registered within the qualifications framework. Secondary school qualifications such as GCSEs ([106]General Certificate of Secondary Education (RQF/CQFW levels 1 and 2 corresponding to EQF levels 2 and 3 respectively). See also:
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_england_and_northern_ireland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2016.pdf
) and technical qualifications with detailed design rules are still subject to a spot check of the qualifications’ specification and a set of specimen assessment papers and mark schemes ([107]Ofqual.
Accreditation requirement [accessed 20.2.2019].
). The responsibility for quality assurance and relevance of other qualifications rests with the awarding organisations, although periodic Ofqual audits take place.

In 2016, CCEA ([108]Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment.) Regulation took over the regulation responsibility of vocational qualifications, within the RQF, that are exclusively provided in Northern Ireland. The work includes the recognition and monitoring of awarding organisations that operate in Northern Ireland and the accreditation of the qualifications they offer in Northern Ireland against published criteria and conditions.

Organisations which provide non-university qualifications can elect to be accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority Accreditation in accordance with the Scottish Qualifications Authority’s (SQA) regulatory principles, but this is not mandatory. All programmes accredited by SQA will be credit rated and included on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). However, organisations can also get programmes credit rated and included on the SCQF through a range of organisations which carry out this function. SQA’s Accreditation function has a mandatory remit to accredit certain vocational qualifications, including all Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs). In addition, if an alternative competence based qualification is to be used as the mandatory qualification in a Modern apprenticeship framework then it must also be accredited by SQA. Certain other “licence to practice” qualifications must be accredited by SQA including the security sector and the licenced trade sector ([109]SQA Accreditation (2014).
Regulatory principles [accessed 15.11.2018].
).

Qualifications Wales was established in 2015 to take over the responsibility of approving and reviewing qualifications, in addition to developing the design of new qualification requirements and commissioning awarding organisations to develop new qualifications, in Wales. Qualifications Wales is undertaking a long term programme of review and reform of vocational qualifications in each major sector of employment. Four out of eight sector reviews have been or are close to be completed ([110]Qualifications Wales.
Sector reviews [accessed 20.2.2019].
). The reviews aim to find out whether current qualifications are effective in meeting the needs of learners as well as addressing the needs of employers, learning providers and professional bodies.

QA arrangements in apprenticeship

The Institute for Apprenticeships started operations in England in 2017 as an independent statutory body with a remit to develop and maintain quality criteria for apprenticeships and assessment plans, support employer-led development of new apprenticeship standards and regulate the quality of apprenticeships, including both approval functions for apprenticeship standards and quality assurance of assessment ([111]Institute for Apprenticeships.
What we do [accessed 15.11.2018].
). The institute is due to also take over responsibility for implementing the T level reform and change its name to the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education in 2019.

Employer-led sectoral partnerships are being set up in Northern Ireland as part of the apprenticeship reform to inform the approach for ongoing assessment and testing at the end of apprenticeships.

Non-formal training

Training organisations offering non-formal qualifications may register with the British Accreditation Council for Independent Further and Higher Education. Investors in People (IiP) is a nationally recognised business standard encouraging enterprises to invest in training. IiP certification gives an indication that an employer is committed to the development of workers.

There are generally less transfer opportunities to further and higher education for qualifications obtained outside a formal qualifications framework in the UK. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is granted at institutional discretion based on the RPL policy of individual awarding organisations in England.

Guidelines for the Recognition of Prior Informal Learning form part of the SCQF ([112]Scottish credit and qualifications framework.) in Scotland. There was previously a RPL network connected to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership which published a RPL toolkit ([113]SCQF (2010).
Facilitating the recognition of prior learning: toolkit. https://www.sqa.org.uk/files_ccc/RPLToolkitUpdatedDecember2010.pdf [accessed 15.11.2018].
) and an online guide that aims to increase and improve recognition of non-formal and informal learning as well as formal learning. While the RPL Network is no longer in operation, the tools and supporting workshops continue to be available.

In England, RARPA (Recognising and Recording Progress and Achievement in non-accredited learning) was furthermore devised by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (now: the Learning and Work Institute) and the former Learning and Skills Development Agency to aid recognition and validation of learning that does not lead to a formal award. RARPA includes a staged process in assessing individual learners’ achievement by taking into consideration their starting point, identification of learning objectives, recording of progress and end of programme assessment.

Lifelong Learning mechanisms have been developed to allow non-formal education and training, such as community learning, in-company training and continuing professional development, to be recognised in accordance with the high level principles of the Credit and Qualifications Framework of Wales ([114]CQFW (2015). Quality assured lifelong learning (QALL) - Formal and non-formal learning. Department for Education and Skills, Welsh Government.
https://gweddill.gov.wales/docs/dcells/publications/151013-qall-e-brochure-en.pdf
).

The Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland aims to encourage more people, who may have less in the way of formal qualifications, to consider applying for places in higher education on the basis of accredited prior experiential learning (APEL). The Northern Ireland University and College Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) Guidelines ([115]Belfast Metropolitan College [s.d].
Higher education accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) process [accessed 15.11.2018].
) were developed to facilitate entry to higher education – particularly Foundation degrees – for those who lack the required formal academic qualifications for higher education entry by accepting vocational qualifications and experiential learning partly or in full. The guidelines were endorsed by the universities and college sector and draw upon good practice within the sector and across the UK.

For more information about arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning please visit Cedefop’s European database ([116]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/european-database-on-validation-of-non-formal-and-informal-learning).

Across the UK, austerity measures have seen many cuts in state funding in recent years. Whilst the pre-16 schools budget has remained largely protected, reductions have occurred in the 16 to 19 and 19+ further education and skills budgets. However, various initiatives to raise numbers and the status of VET are in place in the UK ([117]The UK Government and the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set individual budgets regarding education and skills funding.).

Training leave (England)

The Right to Request Time to Train initiative is a legal right in England to allow workers in businesses with more than 250 employees to request time to take up work-related training that will benefit the business. Training can be both formal and non-formal and take place in-house, at an external training organisation or be delivered through e-learning. Whether the business will pay for the training or pay the employee’s salary during the training is left up to the discretion of the employer.

Trade Union Learning Funds (all four countries)

The Trade Union Learning Fund in England is administered by Unionlearn and provides funding to develop the capacity of trade unions and Union Learning Representatives to work with employees, employers and learning providers, to encourage workplace learning. The Scottish Union Learning Fund, the Wales Union Learning Fund and the Union Learning Fund for Northern Ireland fulfil similar roles.

The Youth Engagement and Employment Action Plan (Wales)

The action plan goal is to help young people move back into education, training and employment. Measures taken to achieve this include the Jobs Growth Wales initiative that supports training and work experience. An evaluation of the action plan based on 2015 data found indications of a reduction in the rates of young people who are NEET, but that it was too early to determine the overall success of the plan ([118]Welsh Government (2016b).
Youth engagement and progression framework: formative evaluation follow-up study [accessed 15.11.2018].
).

Financial support measures for specific target groups

Individual Learning Accounts (ILA) were replaced with Individual Training Accounts (ITA) ([119]https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/what-we-do/employability-skills/sds-individual-training-accounts/) in October 2017. ITAs are payments for the unemployed and not currently in education or those in low paid work in Scotland who wish to learn a new skill or develop their skills further within recognised training programmes. ITAs focus on vocational courses and qualifications in a curriculum area aligned with the Scottish Government’s Labour Market Strategy.

An Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is available to Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish students between the ages of 16 and 18 depending on the students’ and their families’ financial situation. Bursary Funds are available via schools and colleges for 16-18 year olds who struggle to afford the cost of participating in their studies in England. Bursary Funds are specifically targeted towards vulnerable young people, such as those in care, on income support or those with disabilities, but also to other students struggling to afford transport, food or equipment costs. FE providers also receive learner support funding to support eligible adult learners with a specific financial hardship which is preventing them from taking part and/or continuing in learning.

Free lunches for disadvantaged students were extended to 16-18 year old learners at further education colleges (that offer predominantly vocational courses) in England from the autumn of 2014. These free meals were previously only available for disadvantaged students in secondary schools with sixth form provision.

The Entitlement Framework (Northern Ireland)

The Entitlement Framework (EF) came into force in Northern Ireland in 2015, building on the Vocational Enhancement Programme which encouraged collaboration between post-14 school provision and vocational FE college provision. The EF guarantees in law that all learners in Northern Ireland have access to a broad and balanced curriculum with a minimum of 21 courses at lower and upper secondary level, a third of which must be applied and a third, general. Qualifications under the EF contain a range of courses that can be individually tailored to enhance students’ employment chances and meet Government priority skills areas. Post-primary schools work together in local Area Learning Communities alongside further education colleges to plan and provide the full range of general and applied course choices for the young people in an area.

Use of EU tools to support mobility actions

The UK has the main building blocks in place to support the European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET). ECVET aims to give people greater control over their individual learning experiences and promote mobility between different countries and different learning environments. ECVET activities are included in the UK Erasmus+ National Agency (the British Council and Ecorys (UK)) yearly work programme. UK ECVET Experts, appointed by Ecorys UK, raise awareness of ECVET to key stakeholders and promote and encourage organisations involved in mobility to use ECVET in geographical mobility linking ECVET to Erasmus+.

The Apprenticeship Delivery Board (England)

The board consists of representatives from Barclays Banks, Fujitsu UK, the TV company Channel 4 and the City of London amongst others, that will meet and advise the government on how best to expand apprenticeships ([120]UK Government (2018).
Apprenticeship delivery board [accessed 15.10.2018].
). The board furthermore works with the National Apprenticeship Service and the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network ([121]Department for Education [s.d.].
Apprenticeship Ambassador Network [accessed 15.11.2018].
) to stimulate interest in and take up of apprenticeships in England.

The Flexible Workforce Development Fund (Scotland)

The fund is delivered by the Scottish Funding Council and is available to Scottish businesses that contributed towards the UK Government’s apprenticeship levy. Funding can support up-skilling and re-training of individual employees in partnership with Scottish colleges. Employers in Scotland are eligible for a payment of up to £4 000 when employing an unemployed young person as an apprentice through Scotland’s Employer Recruitment Incentive. This initiative is targeting young people facing barriers to employment, such as care leavers, carers, ex-offenders and disabled people.

Financial support for apprenticeships

Access is a Welsh Government programme that provides financial support of up to £3 000 to employers to take on unemployed adults (age 18+) as apprentices. The financial support may be used as a contribution towards wages and up to £1 000 in addition may be used for job-related skills training.

An Employer Incentive Payment of between £250 and £1 500 is available to employers whose apprentices successfully completes a full apprenticeship framework in Northern Ireland.

Careers advisors

Careers advice is offered by a range of professionals, including teachers and careers advisers employed in the education, social work and youth work sectors as well as job centre personnel. Their training varies from in-service training to formal and professional careers guidance qualifications. The Careers Profession Task Force’s report Towards a strong careers profession ([122]Careers Profession Task Force (2012).
Towards a strong careers profession [accessed 15.11.2018].
) made detailed recommendations on raising the professional nature of the workforce. One area of concern identified was that careers advisers were too often under-qualified. Following on from this, the Institute of Employability Professionals has introduced qualifications in employability services along with Education Development International. A unified professional body for the careers profession, the Careers Development Institute, maintains a register of Career Development Professionals and a framework for professional development of careers advisors in the UK.

Qualifications in Career Development, such as those developed by the former sector skills council Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK), are available at RQF levels 4, 5 and 6, but the Careers Profession Alliance’s current voluntary registration requires a level 6 qualification for full registration. Qualifications at postgraduate level are also being developed.

Scottish Careers Advisors are required to hold a postgraduate qualification in career guidance and development in addition to an SDS training plan. Advisers in the Northern Ireland Careers Service similarly should possess a relevant postgraduate level qualification as well as a work-based qualification.

Careers advice services

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) provides a Careers Information, Advice and Guidance (CIAG) service across Scotland. SDS works in partnership with education providers and job centres. Targets specified in the More Choices, More Chances strategy include young people at risk of becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment and Training). SDS has also set up the My World of Work website containing CIAG resources. The Commission on Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce recommends incorporating careers advice before subject specialisation in secondary schools, to involve employers more closely with schools, educate teachers to provide comprehensive advice, and include career management skills in the curriculum.

In December 2017 the Careers Strategy for England was published. It sets out a long term plan to build a world class careers system that will help young people and adults choose the career that’s right for them. The strategy has been developed in partnership with the Gatsby Charitable Foundation which has developed a set of benchmarks, based on rigorous national and international research, which define excellence in careers guidance ([123]Gatsby Charitable Foundation (2013).
Good career guidance [accessed 15.11.2018].
). The strategy is co-ordinated through an expanded role for the Careers & Enterprise Company, working across all the Gatsby Benchmarks to help schools and colleges deliver the ambitions in the strategy.

The National Careers Service (NCS) provides advice on learning, training and employment for young people and adults in England. The service is delivered by local area based contractors who provide access to face-to-face and telephone advice to adults 19 years (or 18 if unemployed or in custody) and over. The NCS also comprise the National Careers Service Helpline (NCH), which offers web chat, text and telephone support to adults and young people, and National Careers Service website gives customers access to information and advice. The National Apprenticeship Service in England runs an Apprenticeship and a Traineeship Vacancy Service, which includes an online search function and mobile app.

Careers Wales offers an all age careers guidance service. The Welsh strategy for further development of careers services is outlined in Future ambitions: Developing careers services in Wales ([124]Welsh Government (2010).
Future ambitions: developing careers services in Wales [accessed 15.11.2018].
). Careers Wales also maintains an Apprenticeship Matching Service available for employers and individual applicants.

The Northern Ireland Careers Service provides an all age, impartial careers education and guidance service to promote employment, education and training opportunities. Careers advisers operate throughout Northern Ireland from Job Centres, Jobs and Benefits Offices and stand-alone careers offices. The Careers Service also offers careers guidance via other channels such as telephone, email and webchat. Careers advisers use evidence outlined in the Department for the Economy’s Skills Barometer to highlight the skills and qualifications most valued by employers and the sectors expected to experience employment growth, thus helping to balance skills supply and demand. Advisers also work with careers teachers in schools and further education colleges to provide impartial advice and guidance to pupils from 14-19. In Northern Ireland, careers education is a statutory area of learning in the common curriculum for all grant-aided post-primary schools. In addition, further education colleges and higher education institutions offer careers guidance to their students. The strategy for careers education and guidance in Northern Ireland, Preparing for Success 2015-2020 which was published in March 2016 sets out a coherent and forward thinking strategic vision for the careers system in Northern Ireland ([125]DfE (2018)
Preparing for success 2015-20 [accessed 15.11.2018].
).

Careers Information, Advice and Guidance (CIAG) is also offered in schools, colleges, higher education institutions and third sector bodies across the UK. Careers advice is available from trade unions as well and Unionlearn has developed their Strategy for Supporting Learners through their Union Learning Representatives, specifically targeting those who are disadvantaged in the workplace. Schools and colleges in England have a duty to provide access to independent careers guidance for pupils in school years 8 to 13 (ages 12-18) and for 19 to 25 year-olds with an Education, Health and Care Plan. Government funding for careers provision forms part of overall school and college budgets and it is left up to the discretion of the education provider how much is spent. Local authorities no longer have an obligation to provide careers guidance, but still have a duty to encourage, enable and assist young people to take part in education and training. Careers education and guidance is also provided by schools and colleges in Wales for students aged 14-19. The Careers and the World of Work Framework also forms part of the curriculum for 11-16 year-olds in maintained schools in Wales.

Jobcentre+ advisers work within schools in England to deliver impartial career advice intended to support schools in engaging young people (aged 12 to 18) identified as being at risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) or who face potential disadvantage in the labour market. The initiative, known as the Pathfinder programme, will provide students with information on traineeships and apprenticeships, accessing work experience, the local labour market and soft skills that employers expect.

Ofsted’s Learner View website allows FE college students in England to rate their college. The results are available for users to search and view to gather an indication of the performance of a college.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has added information about vocational courses and general careers advice to their website under the name UCAS Progress.

Please see also:

Vocational education and training system chart

Tertiary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 5, 6

Higher apprenticeships

ISCED 551, 554, 665

Higher apprenticeships leading to EQF level 5 and 6, ISCED 551, 554, 665
EQF level
5, 6
ISCED-P 2011 level

551, 554, 665

Usual entry grade

13

Usual completion grade

18 (16 in Scotland)

Usual entry age

18

Usual completion age

24 (22 in Scotland)

Length of a programme (years)

1 – 6 (1-4 in Scotland) ([186]Apprenticeships at this level usually last one to six years (one to four years in Scotland), with the duration varying depending on the programme, employment contract and the needs of the apprentice. In Northern Ireland, Higher level apprenticeships must be a minimum of two years duration.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Education is compulsory up to 16 (18 in England).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Y

Programmes are accessible to learners over 18.

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

Apprenticeship programmes in the UK require apprentices to be trained both:

  • on-the-job; and
  • off-the-job.

Off-the-job learning may be organised:

  • as one or two days per week at an education and training provider; or
  • through longer, less frequent blocks of learning;
  • evening classes are also offered.

Learning options

Higher Apprenticeships in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are offered in the shape of apprenticeship frameworks ([188]Which include a work contract, a technical/occupational qualification within the RQF/CQFW and other general subjects relevant to the occupational profile.).

In England, new apprenticeship standards developed by groups of employers from 2017/18 are currently run in parallel with the frameworks and comprise on-the-job and off-the-job training and learning, linked to specific occupations.

Scottish Modern apprenticeships include:

  • a work contract;
  • SVQs (as mandatory components) or alternative competence based qualifications; and
  • Work Place Core Skills that comprise ICT, problem solving, numeracy, communication and working with others;
  • Sectors may decide to include other qualifications, such as HNCs/HNDs or other vocational qualifications either as a mandatory or optional enhancement.

Scottish Technical and Professional apprenticeships do not include Work Place Core Skills; rather they include a range of SVQ units designated as career skills. Technical and Professional apprenticeships may include work-based qualifications other than SVQs (or alternative competence based qualifications) such as SQA HNDs or professional qualifications as the mandatory qualification.

Main providers

Colleges, independent training providers, universities

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

<=80%

The programme is delivered as apprenticeship (minimum 20% - one day a week for a full-time apprentice- is ‘off the job’ training).

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • on-the-job apprenticeship training;
Main target groups

Higher apprenticeships are for adult (18+) learners, many of whom may already be employed prior to starting the apprenticeship programme.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Entry to these non-degree higher education qualifications are usually based on possession of an EQF level 4 qualification from school or college in either vocational or academic subject areas. Entry is allowed at the discretion of the college guided by the awarding body.

Specific entrance requirements to apprenticeships vary depending on the occupational area and the level of the apprenticeship framework/standard.

Degree apprenticeships (in Scotland: Higher and Graduate apprenticeships) create a different pathway to obtaining university degrees. Whilst academic ability, including grades and numerical and reasoning skills are considered by the university or college, candidates are also interviewed for a job with a company (unless they are already employed with the company). Both employers and universities must be satisfied the applicant meets their respective requirements. There may therefore be a joint recruitment process.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment of framework Higher apprenticeships (see Section 18. LEARNING FORM): In England, new apprenticeship standards currently run in parallel with the frameworks and comprise on-the-job and off-the-job training and learning and are linked to specific occupations. Apprentices are continually assessed by an independent assessor from industry or a separate training provider to the one the student attended at the end of the training. Apprentices also undergo end-point assessment via a government-approved end point assessment organisation.

Assessment of Scottish Modern apprenticeships (see Section 18. LEARNING FORM): In Scotland, end-point assessment is not mandatory for Scottish Modern Apprenticeships. As Scottish Modern Apprenticeships are offered across a broad range of sectors, the format of the training and assessment varies considerably across the apprenticeships available.

Assessment of Technical and Professional apprenticeships (see Section 18. LEARNING FORM): As with the Scottish Modern Apprenticeships, for the Technical and Professional apprenticeships end-point assessment is not mandatory for Scottish Modern Apprenticeships. The format of the training and assessment varies considerably across the apprenticeships available.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Apprenticeships at this level are called:

  • higher apprenticeships,
  • higher level apprenticeships,
  • degree apprenticeships,
  • graduate apprenticeships,
  • professional apprenticeship,
  • technical apprenticeships and modern apprenticeships.

A certificate may be awarded along with a vocational qualification, such as:

  • Foundation degree;
  • BTEC Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, along with NVQs and SVQs.

Degree and professional apprenticeships result in the award of a Bachelor degree (EQF 6).

Examples of qualifications

Economist, project manager, quantity surveyor ([189]UCAS: Find a Job (Apprenticeships: Degree/Higher):
https://careerfinder.ucas.com/jobs/degree/#browsing [accessed 11.6.19].
).

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

There are good articulation options for progression from higher VET programmes at RQF levels 4 and 5/SCQF levels 7 and 8 (EQF level 5), such as HNC and HNDs, to the second or third year of a Bachelor degree in a related field in the UK.

However, admission and transfer arrangements are made at the discretion of the admitting institution. See VET programme box ‘College-based higher VET for information about progression opportunities in Scotland.

In Northern Ireland all Higher level apprenticeship opportunities must offer a linear progression pathway from EQF Level 4 to 5 to 6 to 7, either to further vocational learning, or to part-time provision.

Possession of a Bachelor degree allows entry to postgraduate programmes at universities and other qualifications at EQF level 7.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

information not available

General education subjects

Y

Apprenticeships in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are offered in the shape of apprenticeship frameworks ([190]A work contract, a formal technical/occupational qualification.) and include

  • general subjects relevant to the occupational profile
Key competences

Scottish Modern apprenticeship include (see also learning options in section 18)

  • Work Place Core Skills comprise ICT, problem solving, numeracy, communication and working with others.
Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 5

College-based

higher VET

ISCED 551, 554

College-based higher VET leading to EQF level 5, ISCED 551, 554
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

551, 554

Usual entry grade

13

Usual completion grade

15

Usual entry age

18

Usual completion age

20

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to) ([191]Although short courses and individual units of study can be completed, most full-time VET programmes at this level take between one and two years to complete. BTEC/SQA higher national programmes are vocational short-cycle higher education programmes under the framework for qualifications in the European higher education area (FQ-EHEA) and are either certificates (approximately one year) or diplomas (two years). Programmes can take longer when studied part-time.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Education is compulsory up to 16 (18 in England).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

The programme is also available in adult education/continuing training.

Is it offered free of charge?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Y

Learners entering these programmes are over 18.

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

VET learning options include:

  • full-time school-based learning;
  • part-time in adult/continuing education;
  • classroom-based programme in conjunction with an apprenticeship.

VET learning options per qualification type:

  • BTEC/SQA ([193]Scottish Qualifications Authority.) Higher Nationals are often studied part-time;
  • SVQs/NVQs are often taken by employed people or in conjunction with an apprenticeship, but are also available in college settings.
Main providers

Colleges

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Information not available

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • workshops;
  • in-company training;
  • on-the-job apprenticeship training ([194]All the options listed may all be included in programmes of this type, but the inclusion and amount depends on the programme.).
Main target groups

Vocational study at this level encompasses stand-alone qualifications for applicants aged 18+.

These study programmes may also be completed by employees looking for career progression.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Entry to these non-degree higher education qualifications are usually based on possession of an EQF level 4 qualification from school or college in either vocational or academic subject areas.

Entry is allowed at the discretion of the college guided by the awarding body.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Information not available

Diplomas/certificates provided

A wide variety of qualifications exist at this level ([195]See also Main vocational qualifications offered in the UK under Section 6. VET within education and training system)

In England, Northern Ireland and Wales:

  • BTEC Higher Certificates and Diplomas;
  • NVQs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In Scotland:

  • National Progression Awards;
  • National Certificates;
  • Professional Development Awards;
  • SVQs in Scotland.
Examples of qualifications

Quantity surveyor, education administrator, paramedic.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

There are good articulation options for progression from higher VET programmes at RQF levels 4 and 5/SCQF levels 7 and 8 (EQF level 5), such as Higher National Certificates (HNC) and Higher National Diplomas (HND), to the second or third year of a Bachelor degree in a related field in the UK.

However, admission and transfer arrangements are made at the discretion of the admitting institution, though in Scotland the Government and Scottish Funding Council (SFC) have provided strategic funding to help build more substantive and sustained articulation arrangements through the use of regional ‘articulation hubs’. This funding and the hubs are no longer in place, but universities and tertiary colleges have built into their Outcome Agreements with the SFC ([196]http://www.sfc.ac.uk/funding/outcome-agreements/outcome-agreements.aspx) the requirement to sustain and ideally increase such articulation activity. This is also supported by recommendations from the Commission on Widening Access set up by the Scottish Government, with a Commissioner on Fair Access in place to help drive such activity.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Qualifications frameworks in England and the devolved administrations ([197]Credit and qualifications framework in Wales (CQFW), Scottish credit and qualifications framework (SCQF) and the previous qualifications and credit framework in Northern Ireland (QCF).) describe levels, qualifications and units in terms of learning outcomes as well as credits and notional learning hours.

Qualifications included in the RQF (Regulated qualifications framework in England and N. Ireland in place since 2015) have, from 31 December 2017, been described in terms of total qualification time ([198]Ofqual (2015).
Total qualification time criteria [accessed 22.2.2017].
) as credit allocation to units and qualifications is not compulsory within the RQF.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are competence-based, practically oriented qualifications that are based on National Occupational Standards and often assessed in the work place. While NVQs sit within the RQF and CQFW, SVQs sit within the SCQF.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 7

Higher apprenticeships

ISCED 767

Higher apprenticeships leading to EQF level 7, ISCED 767. Higher apprenticeships at Doctoral level have not yet been developed.
EQF level
7
ISCED-P 2011 level

767

Usual entry grade

Information not available

Usual completion grade

Information not available

Usual entry age

Information not available

Usual completion age

Information not available

Length of a programme (years)

1 (up to) ([199]Programmes at this level usually take between six months to a year to complete.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Education is compulsory up to 16 (18 in England).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Y

Learners in these programmes are over 18.

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

Apprenticeship programmes in the UK require apprentices to be trained both

  • on-the-job; and
  • off-the-job.

Off-the-job learning may be organised

  • as one or two days per week at an education and training provider; or
  • through longer, less frequent blocks of learning;
  • evening classes are also offered.

Learning options

Higher Apprenticeships in England, and Wales are offered in the shape of apprenticeship frameworks ([201]Which include a work contract, a technical/occupational qualification within the RQF/CQFW and other general subjects relevant to the occupational profile.).

Higher level apprenticeships frameworks in Northern Ireland consist of an academic element, which contains a strong work-based element, combined with on-the-job training, and may include technical work-based qualifications as appropriate.

In England, new apprenticeship standards developed by groups of employers from 2017/18 are currently run in parallel with the frameworks and comprise on-the-job and off-the-job training and learning, linked to specific occupations.

Scottish apprenticeships include a work contract. Technical and Professional apprenticeships include career skills and may include work-based or alternative competence based qualifications or professional qualifications as the mandatory qualification.

Main providers

Colleges and higher education institutions

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Work-based learning and in-company training are included in programmes of this type, but the amount depends on the programme.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • on-the-job apprenticeship training;
Main target groups

Higher apprenticeships are for adult learners, who may already be employed prior to starting the apprenticeship programme.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Degree apprenticeships were introduced to create a different pathway to obtaining university degrees. Whilst academic ability, including grades and numerical and reasoning skills are considered by the university or college, candidates are also interviewed for a job with a company (unless they are already employed with the company). Both employers and universities must be satisfied the applicant meets their respective requirements. There may therefore be a joint recruitment process.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment of Higher apprenticeships (see Section 18. LEARNING FORM): Higher Apprenticeships have end-point assessment, where apprenticeships are assessment on both their academic learning and occupational competences.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Apprenticeships at this level are called:

  • higher apprenticeships;
  • higher level apprenticeships;
  • graduate apprenticeships;
  • degree apprenticeships; and
  • professional apprenticeships.

An apprenticeship certificate may be awarded along with a Master’s degree.

Examples of qualifications

Information not available

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Higher apprenticeships at Doctoral level have not yet been developed.

Possession of a Master’s degree awarded from a university with degree awarding powers in the UK allows progression to Doctoral study in the UK at institutional discretion.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

Y

Technical and professional apprenticeships include career skills.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 7

Higher VET

ISCED 767

Higher VET leading to EQF 7, ISCED 767
EQF level
7
ISCED-P 2011 level

767

Usual entry grade

Information not available

Usual completion grade

Information not available

Usual entry age

Information not available

Usual completion age

Information not available

Length of a programme (years)

1 (up to) ([202]Programmes at this level usually take between six months to a year to complete.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Education is compulsory up to 16 (18 in England).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

The programme is also available in adult education/continuing training.

Is it available for adults?

Y

Learners in these programmes are over 18.

  
ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • Programmes are often studied part-time by employed people, but are also available in college settings that include work experience.
  • Courses are often also offered through distance learning.
Main providers

Colleges and higher education institutions

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Work-based learning and in-company training are included in programmes of this type, but the amount depends on the programme.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • workshops;
  • in-company training.

Many students will be in employment whilst studying.

Main target groups

These study programmes are, in the main, completed by employees looking for career progression and to improve professional practice.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Entry to these non-degree higher education qualifications are usually based on possession of a university degree or other non-degree higher qualifications. Work experience in a related subject is often also taken into consideration.

Entry is allowed at the discretion of the college guided by the awarding body.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Information not available

Diplomas/certificates provided

A wide variety of qualifications exist at this level, including BTEC Professional qualifications, such as Extended Level 7 Diplomas along with NVQs (National vocational qualifications) and SVQs (Scottish vocational qualifications).

Examples of qualifications

Information not available

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

These study programmes are, in the main, completed by employees looking for career progression and to improve professional practice.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

General education subjects

General subjects are not usually included as the programmes are narrowly specialised to meet the skills demands of a specific profession.

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Qualifications frameworks in England and the devolved administrations ([204]Credit and qualifications framework in Wales (CQFW), Scottish credit and qualifications framework (SCQF) and the previous qualifications and credit framework in Northern Ireland (QCF).) describe levels, qualifications and units in terms of learning outcomes as well as credits and notional learning hours.

Qualifications included in the RQF (Regulated qualifications framework in England and N. Ireland in place since 2015) have, from 31 December 2017, been described in terms of total qualification time ([205]Ofqual (2015).
Total qualification time criteria [accessed 22.2.2017].
) as credit allocation to units and qualifications is not compulsory within the RQF.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are competence-based, practically oriented qualifications that are based on National Occupational Standards and often assessed in the work place. While NVQs sit within the RQF and CQFW, SVQs sit within the SCQF.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

1 605 000 students in England in the 16-18 age group participated in education and training at various levels in 2017, which accounts for 86% of all young people in this age group.

 

Participation of 16-18 year olds in education and training in England in 2017 (%)

Source: Department for Education (2018). Participation in education, training and employment: 2017 [accessed 15.11.2018].

50 500 students in Scotland in the 16-19 age group participated in education at various levels in 2018, which accounts for 71% of all young people in this age group. Apprenticeship and non-formal and informal training are not included in this number.

Participation of 16-19 year olds in education and training in Scotland in 2018 (%)

Source: Skills Development Scotland (2018). Annual Participation Measure for 16 – 19 year olds in Scotland 2018 [accessed 15.11.2018].

 

Post-secondary

Programme Types
Not available

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 2/3

Apprenticeship,

ISCED 351,352

Apprenticeship programmes leading to EQF level 2 and 3, ISCED 351/352
EQF level
2/3
ISCED-P 2011 level

351, 352

Usual entry grade

10 (also available to adults)

Usual completion grade

11

Usual entry age

14

Usual completion age

16

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to) ([128]Apprenticeships at this level usually last one year, but the duration can be longer depending on the programme, employment contract and the needs of the apprentice. There is a requirement for apprenticeships to last at least 12 months in England.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

Education is compulsory up to 16 (18 in England).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

([130]Also available in adult education/continuing training.)

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

([131]Apprentices are employees. For learners up to 18, the programme is 100% government funded. From age 19, 50% is funded, but the remainder is paid by the company, therefore it is free of charge to the learner/apprentice.)

Is it available for adults?

Y

Apprentices may complete this type of study at age 16, but many apprentices are adult learners who may already be employed prior to starting the apprenticeship programme.

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

Apprenticeship programmes in the UK require apprentices to be trained both

  • on-the-job; and
  • off-the-job.

Off-the-job learning may be organised

  • as one or two days per week at an education and training provider; or
  • through longer, less frequent blocks of learning;
  • evening classes are also offered.

Learning options

Apprenticeships at this level in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are offered in the shape of apprenticeship frameworks ([132]Which include a work contract, a formal technical/occupational qualification and Functional Skills/Essential Skills/Key Skills/GCSEs in English, mathematics and other general subjects relevant to the occupational profile.).

In England ([133]New apprenticeship standards are being developed by employer-led consortia (Trailblazer groups); see Section: VET governance/apprenticeships in England.), new apprenticeship standards are currently run in parallel with the frameworks and comprise on-the-job and off-the-job training and learning, linked to specific occupations, and apprentices are assessed by an independent assessor from industry or a separate training provider to the one the student attended at the end of the training.

Scottish Modern apprenticeships include a work contract and are required to include as mandatory components SVQs ([134]Scottish vocational qualification.) or alternative competence based qualifications and Work Place Core Skills that comprise ICT, problem solving, numeracy, communication and working with others.

Main providers

Colleges, independent training providers.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

<=80%

The programme is delivered as apprenticeship (minimum 20% - one day a week for a full time apprentice- is ‘off the job’ training)

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • on-the-job apprenticeship training
Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults. Apprenticeship programmes at this level have different target groups depending on the programme:

Traineeships in England are designed to provide young, unemployed people who possess little work experience and low qualifications with skills and work experience in preparation for apprenticeships and employment. The core content comprises literacy and numeracy, work preparation training and a work placement. This programme is tailored to individual candidates’ needs and should be completed in less than six months.

Traineeships are being introduced in Northern Ireland at EQF level 3 and will allow progression to RQF level 3 (EQF 4) apprenticeships. A baccalaureate-style curriculum is being created, which will include work-based learning and allow students to continue into an apprenticeship or further education or be skilled enough to find sustained employment.

Scottish learning providers offer additional skills and employability training opportunities, through the Employability Fund that prepare young people for Modern Apprenticeships or employment. Training is targeted towards seven key sectors and programmes include employability skills, basic occupational skills, employer experience and lead to a recognised vocational qualification or certification ([135]Qualifications vary depending on the needs of the person and the local area, more information at:
https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/what-we-do/employability-skills/employability-fund/
).

Traineeships are available for 16-18 year olds in Wales and provide needs-based training to help learners progress to further learning, apprenticeships and employment through provision at three levels.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Apprentices may complete this type of study at age 16, but many apprentices are adult learners who may already be employed prior to starting the apprenticeship programme.

Entrance requirements to apprenticeships vary depending on the occupational area and the level of the apprenticeship framework/standard. Competition for some apprenticeship places is fierce and good secondary qualifications at EQF level 3 in English and mathematics are sometimes necessary.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Qualifications offered within Scottish and Welsh apprenticeship frameworks and in the apprenticeship frameworks that include QCF qualifications in England and Northern Ireland ([136]Level descriptors have been revised, but the same eight framework levels remain from the previous qualifications and credit framework (QCF), and the existing qualifications continue to be offered until they are withdrawn by the awarding organisation.), are unit-based which enables credit transfer.

The new apprenticeship standards in England are; however, not unit-based and are assessed through a final examination, which makes the process of credit transfer more dependent on the discretion of the learning provider.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Apprenticeships at this level are called:

  • intermediate apprenticeships (RQF);
  • foundation apprenticeships (CQFW); and
  • modern apprenticeships (SCQF).

An apprenticeship certificate ([137]Attesting that the qualification was delivered as part of an apprenticeship programme) is awarded along with a vocational qualification, such as BTEC First Awards, Certificates and Diplomas, NVQs and SVQs ([138]National vocational qualifications and Scottish vocational qualifications.).

Examples of qualifications

Bricklayer, motor vehicle technician and legal secretary

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Apprenticeship programmes and VET qualifications at this level usually provide entry to the labour market and whilst apprenticeships are linked to a profession ([139]Such as bricklayer, motor vehicle technician and legal secretary.), not all qualifications are linked to an occupational standard.

Some apprenticeships at this level provide the first step towards a more narrowly defined apprenticeship or training programme at a more advanced level.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Y

Apprenticeships in England ([140]New apprenticeship standards are being developed by employer-led consortia (Trailblazer groups); see Section: VET governance/apprenticeships in England.), Wales and Northern Ireland are offered in the shape of apprenticeship frameworks which include a work contract, a formal technical/occupational qualification and

  • Functional Skills/Essential Skills/Key Skills/GCSEs in English, mathematics; and
  • other general subjects relevant to the occupational profile.

Traineeships in England:

  • the core content comprises literacy and numeracy ([141]The programme is tailored to individual candidates’ needs and should be completed in less than six months.).
Key competences

Scottish learning providers offer additional skills and employability training opportunities, through the Employability Fund that prepare young people for Modern Apprenticeships or employment. Training is targeted towards seven key sectors ([142]Programmes lead to a recognised vocational qualification or certification. Qualifications vary depending on the needs of the person and the local area, more information at:
https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/what-we-do/employability-skills/employability-fund/
) and programmes include

  • employability skills ([143]As well as basic occupational skills, and employer experience.).

Scottish Modern apprenticeships include ([144]In addition to a work contract and SVQs Scottish vocational qualifications as mandatory components, or alternative competence based qualifications and employability skills.):

  • work place core skills that comprise ICT, problem solving, numeracy, communication and working with others.
Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 3

School-based VET,

ISCED 351, 352

School-based VET programmes leading to EQF level 3, ISCED 351, 352
EQF level
3
ISCED-P 2011 level

351, 352

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

14

Usual completion age

16

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to) ([145]Although short courses and individual units of study can be completed, most full-time VET programmes at this level take between one and two years to complete. In Scotland National Certificates and National Progression Awards are National Qualifications Group Awards in which students accumulate credits towards distinctive group awards. Programmes can take longer when studied part-time.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

Education is compulsory up to 16 (18 in England).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

([147]Also available in adult education/continuing training.)

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

For learners up to 18, VET is funded by government agencies.

Is it available for adults?

Y

The programme is also available in adult education/continuing training.

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

VET learning options include:

  • full-time school-based learning;
  • part-time in adult/continuing education;
  • school-based programme in conjunction with an apprenticeship.

VET learning options per qualification type:

  • BTEC Firsts (RQF level 2 qualifications) ([148]BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) qualifications are offered in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. For a detailed description of the BTEC Firsts, see: Pearson.
    About BTEC Firsts [accessed 15.2.2018].
    ) are often studied part-time and in conjunction with other qualifications;
  • National vocational qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish vocational qualifications (SVQs) are often taken by employed people or in conjunction with an apprenticeships; also available in college settings;

GCSEs ([149]General certificate of secondary education.) in vocational subjects can normally be studied alongside general academic subjects.

Main providers

Colleges, secondary schools

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Information not available

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • school workshops;
  • in-company training;
  • on-the-job apprenticeship training ([150]All the options listed may all be included in programmes of this type, but the inclusion and amount depends on the programme.).
Main target groups

VET programmes may be taken as:

  • alternatives to compulsory general academic study at secondary schools; or
  • as stand-alone qualifications completed after moving sideways from secondary school to starting VET at a college;
  • adults may also start VET at this level.

In Scotland:

  • National Certificates are primarily aimed at people in full-time education and National Progression Awards are usually shorter, more flexible programmes for employees or people returning to work, though are also taken as part of a wider curriculum of qualifications within the school or college setting.
Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

No specific entry requirements apply.

Students may complete this type of VET at age 15/16. Age 16 marks the end of the compulsory schooling age, although the age to which individuals are required to take part in education or training, either part-time or full-time, was raised in England to 18 in 2015 in a bid to improve the skill levels of the work force.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Information not available

Diplomas/certificates provided

A wide variety of qualifications exist at this level (see also Section VET governance):

In England, Northern Ireland and Wales:

  • BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) Awards, Certificates and Diplomas ([151]See also Pearson:
    What is a BTEC? [accessed 15.2.2019].
    );
  • the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) in vocational subjects.

In Scotland:

  • NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) ([152]National qualifications are offered in both vocational and academic subjects.);
  • SVQs (Scottish Vocational Qualifications);
  • National Certificates (vocational qualifications);
  • NPAs (National Progression Awards) (vocational qualifications).
Examples of qualifications

Heating and ventilation engineer, motor vehicle technician, care worker ([153]Qualifications not all linked to an occupational standard.)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Qualifications at this level may provide entry to the labour market in professions such as heating and ventilation engineer, motor vehicle technician or care worker, but are not all linked to an occupational standard and are mostly intended to prepare students for further vocational specialisation at a higher level.

In Scotland, National Progression Awards are National Qualifications Group Awards that allow entry to more advanced study and employment.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Y

GCSEs in vocational subjects can normally be studied alongside general academic subjects.

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Qualifications frameworks in England and the devolved administrations ([154]Credit and qualifications framework in Wales (CQFW), Scottish credit and qualifications framework (SCQF) and the previous qualifications and credit framework in Northern Ireland (QCF).) describe levels, qualifications and units in terms of learning outcomes as well as credits and notional learning hours.

Qualifications included in the RQF (Regulated qualifications framework in England and N. Ireland in place since 2015) have, from 31 December 2017, been described in terms of total qualification time ([155]Ofqual (2015).
Total qualification time criteria [accessed 22.2.2017].
) as credit allocation to units and qualifications is not compulsory within the RQF.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are competence-based, practically oriented qualifications that are based on National Occupational Standards and often assessed in the work place. While NVQs sit within the RQF and CQFW, SVQs sit within the SCQF.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 4

Apprenticeship

ISCED 354

Apprenticeship programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354.
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

12 (also available to adults)

Usual completion grade

13

Usual entry age

17

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to) ([156]Apprenticeships at this level usually last one year, but the duration can be longer depending on the programme, employment contract and the needs of the apprentice. There is a requirement for apprenticeships to last at least 12 months in England.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

(in England)

N

(in N. Ireland, Wales and Scotland)

Education is compulsory up to 16 (18 in England)

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

([158]Apprentices are employees. For learners up to 18, the programme is 100% government funded. From age 19, 50% is funded, but the remainder is paid by the company, therefore it is free of charge to the learner/apprentice.)

Is it available for adults?

Y

Apprentices may complete this type of study at age 18, but many apprentices are adult learners who may already be employed prior to starting the apprenticeship programme.

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

Apprenticeship programmes in the UK require apprentices to be trained both

  • on-the-job; and
  • off-the-job.

Off-the-job learning may be organised:

  • as one or two days per week at an education and training provider; or
  • through longer, less frequent blocks of learning;
  • evening classes are also offered.

Learning options

Apprenticeships in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are offered in the shape of apprenticeship frameworks ([159]Which include a work contract, a formal technical/occupational qualification and Functional Skills/Essential Skills/Key Skills/GCSEs in English, mathematics and other general subjects relevant to the occupational profile.)

In England ([160]New apprenticeship standards are being developed by employer-led consortia (Trailblazer groups); see Section: VET governance/apprenticeships in England.), new apprenticeship standards are currently run in parallel with the frameworks and comprise on-the-job and off-the-job training and learning, linked to specific occupations, and apprentices are assessed by an independent assessor from industry or a separate training provider to the one the student attended at the end of the training.

Scottish Modern apprenticeships include a work contract and are required to include as mandatory components SVQs- Scottish Vocational Qualification or alternative competence based qualifications and Work Place Core Skills that comprise ICT, problem solving, numeracy, communication and working with others.

Scottish young people on Foundation apprenticeships

  • are not employed;
  • spend time in school and on work placements (approximately one day per week);
  • Successful students may transfer to a modern apprenticeship on completion.
Main providers

Colleges, independent training providers

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

<=80%

The programme is delivered as apprenticeship (minimum 20% - one day a week for a full time apprentice- is ‘off the job’ training) Information not available.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • on-the-job apprenticeship training
Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

Apprentices may complete this type of study at age 18, but many apprentices are adult learners who may already be employed prior to starting the apprenticeship programme.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Most pupils take examinations for the GCSE ([161]General certificate of secondary education.) at age 15/16 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The grades achieved here play an important role in determining the future study opportunities within VET.

In Scotland, National 4 and 5 qualifications (EQF 2/3), normally also taken at age 15/16, are the most common entrance qualifications to VET.

Entrance requirements to apprenticeships vary depending on the occupational area and the level of the apprenticeship framework/standard. Competition for some apprenticeship places is fierce and good secondary qualifications at EQF level 3 in English and mathematics are sometimes necessary.

Aligned with the Scottish Government’s policy agenda of Developing the Young Workforce, Foundation apprenticeships have been created to offer school pupils (at EQF level 4) the chance to undertake some components of a Modern apprenticeship in Scotland whilst still in school studying other subjects like National 5s and Highers. These apprenticeships are linked to key sectors of the Scottish economy, so young people are getting industry experience which will help them kick-start a successful career in their chosen field.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Qualifications offered within Scottish and Welsh apprenticeship frameworks and in the apprenticeship frameworks that include QCF qualifications in England and Northern Ireland ([162]Level descriptors have been revised, but the same eight framework levels remain from the previous qualifications and credit framework (QCF), and the existing qualifications continue to be offered until they are withdrawn by the awarding organisation.), are unit-based which enables credit transfer.

The new apprenticeship standards in England are; however, not unit-based and are assessed through a final examination, which makes the process of credit transfer more dependent on the discretion of the learning provider.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Apprenticeships at this level are called:

  • Level 3 apprenticeships;
  • advanced apprenticeships; and
  • in Scotland: foundation apprenticeships and modern apprenticeships.

An apprenticeship certificate ([163]Attesting that the qualification was delivered as part of an apprenticeship programme.) is awarded along with a vocational qualification, such as BTEC National Awards, Certificates and Diplomas along with NVQs and SVQs ([164]National vocational qualifications and Scottish vocational qualifications.).

Examples of qualifications

Electrician, veterinary nurse and dental technician.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Apprenticeship programmes and VET qualifications at this level are designed to provide entry to the labour market and are linked to a profession.

Progression opportunities to higher apprenticeship or training programmes at a more advanced level also exist.

Entry to first level university degree study is also possible depending on the qualifications achieved.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Y

Apprenticeships in England ([165]New apprenticeship standards are being developed by employer-led consortia (Trailblazer groups); see Section: VET governance/apprenticeships in England), Wales and Northern Ireland are offered in the shape of apprenticeship frameworks which include a work contract, a formal technical/occupational qualification and

  • Functional Skills/Essential Skills/Key Skills/GCSEs in English, mathematics; and
  • other general subjects relevant to the occupational profile.
Key competences

Scottish learning providers offer additional skills and employability training opportunities, through the Employability Fund that prepare young people for Modern Apprenticeships or employment. Training is targeted towards seven key sectors ([166]Programmes lead to a recognised vocational qualification or certification. Qualifications vary depending on the needs of the person and the local area, more information at:
https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/what-we-do/employability-skills/employability-fund/
) and programmes include

  • employability skills ([167]As well as basic occupational skills, and employer experience.).

Scottish Modern apprenticeships include ([168]In addition to a work contract and SVQs Scottish vocational qualifications as mandatory components, or alternative competence based qualifications and employability skills.)

  • work place core skills that comprise ICT, problem solving, numeracy, communication and working with others.
Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 4

College-based VET

ISCED 351, 354

College-based VET programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 351, 354
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

351, 354

Usual entry grade

12

Usual completion grade

13

Usual entry age

17

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to) ([169]Although short courses and individual units of study can be completed, most full-time VET programmes at this level take between one and two years to complete. Programmes can take longer when studied part-time.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

(in England)

N

(in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland)

Education is compulsory up to 16 (18 in England).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

For learners up to 18, VET is funded by government

agencies.

Is it available for adults?

Y

The programme is also available in adult education/continuing training.

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

VET learning options include:

  • full-time school-based learning;
  • part-time in adult/continuing education;
  • school-based programme in conjunction with an apprenticeship.

VET learning options per qualification type:

  • BTEC Nationals are often studied part-time and in conjunction with other qualifications;
  • SVQs/NVQs ([171]Scottish vocational qualifications / national vocational qualifications.) are often taken by employed people or in conjunction with an apprenticeship, but are also available in college settings.

VET learning options

In England, 16-19 year olds are expected to follow a 16-19 study programme consisting of a main vocational qualification (or general academic qualification) and including work-related learning as well as English and mathematics, unless the required level has already been achieved in these two subjects.

Qualifications taught in England at RQF level 3 may be categorised as either technical or applied general qualifications. Qualifications receiving sufficient endorsements from employers and trade and professional associations are categorised as Tech levels (Technical level qualifications as a mark of quality and relevance to the labour market. Applied general qualifications provide a broader study of a vocational area, and need the public backing of three universities to achieve the quality mark. Students completing a study programme started in 2014 or later that includes one of the Tech levels, a level 3 core mathematics qualification and an extended project will achieve the Technical Baccalaureate ([172]See also Department for Education (2014).
The Technical Baccalaureate Performance Table Measure
).

The Welsh Baccalaureate contains academic and vocational qualifications alongside a wider programme of learning that includes an individual project and three challenges that enable young people to develop critical skills including problem solving and creativity. This programme comprises literacy, numeracy, digital literacy, critical thinking and problem-solving, planning and organisation, creativity and innovation and personal effectiveness, as well as general academic and/or vocational qualifications in addition to the skills challenges that require learners to demonstrate research skills, entrepreneurship and participate in community activities.

Main providers

Colleges, secondary schools

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Information not available

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • school workshops;
  • in-company training;
  • on-the-job apprenticeship training ([173]All the options listed may all be included in programmes of this type, but the inclusion and amount depends on the programme. BTEC and NVQ/SVQ programmes combine theoretical and practical vocational education and can form part of an apprenticeship programme.).
Main target groups

VET programmes may be taken as:

  • alternatives to compulsory general academic study at secondary schools; or
  • as stand-alone qualifications completed after moving sideways from secondary school to starting VET at a college;
  • adults may also start VET at this level.

Target groups and education strategies in place:

The ‘Opportunities for All’ pledge offers a guaranteed place in education or training for 16-19 year olds in Scotland.

In Northern Ireland, a guarantee of training towards level 1-3 qualifications (EQF levels 2-4) is offered through the Training for Success programme for all unemployed 16-17 year old school leavers with extended eligibility for those with a disability and from an in-care background.

The Northern Ireland Strategy for Youth Training includes a policy commitment for the future system that all 16–24 year olds who require training at level 2 (EQF 3) will have the opportunity to participate.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Most pupils take examinations for the GCSE ([174]General certificate of secondary education.) at age 15/16 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The grades achieved here play an important role in determining the future study opportunities within VET.

In Scotland, National 4 and 5 qualifications (EQF levels 2/3), normally also taken at age 15/16, are the most common entrance qualifications to VET.

Students may complete this type of VET at age 18/19. Age 16 marks the end of the compulsory schooling age, although the age to which individuals are required to take part in education or training, either part-time or full-time, was raised in England to 18 in 2015.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Information not available

Diplomas/certificates provided

A wide variety of qualifications exist at this level (see also section VET governance):

In England, Northern Ireland and Wales:

  • BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) National Awards, Certificates and Diplomas;
  • NVQs (National vocational qualifications);
  • applied subjects at upper secondary level are also available in the General Certificate of Education Advanced level (GCE A level) and Advanced Subsidiary programmes and the Welsh Baccalaureate.

In Scotland:

  • National Progression Awards;
  • National Certificates;
  • Professional Development Awards;
  • SVQs (Scottish vocational qualifications);
  • National Qualifications, such as Higher and Advanced Higher are offered primarily in academic, but also some vocational subjects.
Examples of qualifications

Electrician, veterinary nurse, dental technician.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Candidates holding RQF level 3 ([175]RQF levels are still to be referenced to EQF levels.
- ‘An update on developments in England and Northern Ireland was presented in the EQF advisory group in February 2019, and an updated referencing report to reference the RQF and FHEQ to the EQF is planned to be presented in June 2019’. Source: Cedefop (2019). European inventory on NQF (2018) UK- England and N. Ireland, p.16.
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_england_and_northern_ireland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf
- ‘An updated referencing report has been prepared by the SCQF Partnership and presented to the EQF advisory group in December 2018.’ Source:
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_scotland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf p. 14.
- ‘Wales is currently in the process of updating the referencing report due to the changes in the level descriptors, the creation of Qualification Wales and the changes to quality assurance in higher education. This report will be presented to the EQF advisory group in June 2019.’ Source:
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_wales_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf p. 15.
) or SCQF level 6 vocational qualifications (EQF level 4) may be allowed access to selected first cycle university programmes at institutional discretion.

The Curriculum for Excellence ([176]See also:
https://www.gov.scot/policies/schools/school-curriculum/
) in Scotland creates opportunities for students to combine a wider range of qualification types, which means that a larger variety of secondary qualifications are used to apply for tertiary education.

Vocational RQF qualifications at level 3 that are classified as Applied General qualifications are designed to provide a clear route from vocational education to higher education in England.

The majority of young university entrants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland hold general academic A level (RQF/CQFW level 3) ([177]CQFW level 3 are referenced to EQF level 4, RQF levels are still to be referenced to EQF levels.) qualifications ([178]RQF levels are still to be referenced to EQF levels.
- ‘An update on developments in England and Northern Ireland was presented in the EQF advisory group in February 2019, and an updated referencing report to reference the RQF and FHEQ to the EQF is planned to be presented in June 2019’. Source: Cedefop (2019). European inventory on NQF (2018) UK- England and N. Ireland, p.16.
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_england_and_northern_ireland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf
- ‘An updated referencing report has been prepared by the SCQF Partnership and presented to the EQF advisory group in December 2018.’ Source:
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_scotland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf p. 14.
- ‘Wales is currently in the process of updating the referencing report due to the changes in the level descriptors, the creation of Qualification Wales and the changes to quality assurance in higher education. This report will be presented to the EQF advisory group in June 2019.’ Source:
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_wales_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf p. 15.
), but recent years have seen a steady rise in applicants being accepted with only vocational qualifications and a mixture of academic and vocational qualifications ([179]UCAS (2015).
End of cycle report 2015 [accessed 10.1.2019].
).

In Scotland, the majority of young university entrants will hold Scottish Higher qualifications (SCQF level 6 / EQF level 4). However, the final report of the Commission on Widening Access in 2016 recommended that the admissions processes of post-16 institutions recognise alternative pathways to higher education and do not unnecessarily disadvantage those who choose them, and that by 2018 a Framework for Fair Access should be published ([180]Scottish Government (2016b).
The final report of the Commission on Widening Access [accessed 15.11.2018].
). This was published in May 2019 ([181]Scottish Government (2019).
Fair access framework. [accessed 4.6.2019].
).

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Y

([182]BTEC and NVQs do not include general subjects.) ([183]See more on the study programmes curriculum under Section: Assessment of learning outcomes, above.)

In England, 16-19 study programmes include English and mathematics, unless the required level has already been achieved in these two subjects.

In England, RQF level 3 Tech level (quality mark) qualifications include level 3 core mathematics.

The Welsh Baccalaureate includes general academic qualifications.

Key competences

The Welsh Baccalaureate comprises:

  • literacy,
  • numeracy,
  • digital literacy,
  • critical thinking and problem-solving,
  • planning and organisation,
  • creativity and innovation,
  • personal effectiveness, and
  • entrepreneurship.
Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Qualifications frameworks in England and the devolved administrations ([184]Credit and qualifications framework in Wales (CQFW), Scottish credit and qualifications framework (SCQF) and the previous qualifications and credit framework in Northern Ireland (QCF).) describe levels, qualifications and units in terms of learning outcomes as well as credits and notional learning hours.

Qualifications included in the RQF (Regulated qualifications framework in England and N. Ireland in place since 2015) have, from 31 December 2017, been described in terms of total qualification time ([185]Ofqual (2015).
Total qualification time criteria [accessed 22.2.2017].
) as credit allocation to units and qualifications is not compulsory within the RQF.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are competence-based, practically oriented qualifications that are based on National Occupational Standards and often assessed in the work place. While NVQs sit within the RQF and CQFW, SVQs sit within the SCQF.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Programme Types
Not available

General themes

Main features of the VET system include:

  • in the last ten years participation in VET increased by more than 70% ([1]TodoFP:
    http://www.todofp.es/sobre-fp/informacion-general/sistema-educativo-fp/fp-actual.html
    );
  • in the same period, early leaving from education and training has considerably decreased but is still below the national target;
  • in VET programmes managed by the education authorities, males are the majority of learners: 71.1% in basic VET, 56.9% in intermediate VET and 52.4% in higher VET programmes ([2]More information on their repartition among professional sectors in: Sancha, I.; Gutiérrez, S. (2019). Vocational education and training in Europe: Spain, Annex_T_5/2. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018.
    http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2019/Vocational_Education_Training_Europe_Spain_2018_Cedefop_ReferNet.pdf
    );
  • 50% of VET learners are found in three professional branches: health, administration and management; information and communications technology; and sociocultural and community services;
  • the number of apprenticeships/dual VET learners ([3]Dual VET, in the national context refers to all types of VET which combine work and learning with the aim to obtain vocational qualifications, which may or not take the form of apprenticeship contracts.) is slowly increasing but is still a minority option compared to school-based programmes.

Distinctive features ([4]Adapted from Cedefop (2015). Spotlight on VET in Spain. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/publications/8104
)

The Spanish constitution provides the right to education and retraining, which public authorities have to promote. Initial vocational education and training (VET) is the responsibility of education authorities; continuous training is the responsibility of 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: they share the same consultation bodies but the governance and objectives of their VET qualifications and programmes differ.

Mutual recognition of some parts of the training (modules), acquired in training programmes offered by the education or employment authorities, is possible as both take as reference the occupational standards of the national catalogue ([5]The National catalogue of occupational standards (Catálogo Nacional de Cualificaciones Profesionales - CNCP) comprises the most important occupations of the Spanish sector.).

VET programmes are modularised and include compulsory workplace learning at the end of, or during, studies. Learners need to pass all modules to obtain the relevant qualification. However, modularisation allows partial certification and re-engagement from a lifelong learning perspective.

The introduction of basic VET programmes (ISCED 353) and direct access to intermediate VET (ISCED 354) programmes in upper secondary have opened up progression routes for youngsters at risk of dropping out of compulsory education and, in some cases, for adults with low or no qualifications. Adults may have their skills recognised or acquire a formal qualification through training. Key competences tests have been developed for advanced VET programmes and professional certificate access. VET programmes using online or virtual learning environments and platforms are being developed to ease access to VET.

It is possible to acquire VET qualifications through dual VET. The dual principle (apprenticeship contracts or other alternance schemes) has been implemented nationally to increase VET attractiveness and support young people in transition to the labour market, though there are territorial differences in its implementation.

There are common regulations for validating skills acquired through non-formal and informal learning and work experience. These procedures empower citizens to engage in further learning and acquire full qualifications. Demand for recognition may be driven by company needs, social partner requests or minimum qualification requirements from sectoral regulatory bodies. Regional authorities can initiate public calls for validation of non-formal and informal learning, depending on local or sectoral labour market needs.

In response to the significant increase in youth unemployment in recent years, current VET policy focuses on:

  • reducing early leaving from education and training;
  • improving citizens’ qualification levels and employability;
  • implementing the dual principle (apprenticeship-type training);
  • implementing e-learning and appropriate assessment criteria and quality assurance;
  • evaluating the VET system to improve its quality and efficiency;
  • improving VET attractiveness, engaging companies in VET and maintaining its labour market relevance;
  • aligning VET qualifications with labour market needs and skills forecasts and with sectoral needs;
  • developing a comprehensive national qualifications framework and improving implementation of other European tools and principles to promote labour and training mobility and support lifelong learning.

The 2013 education reform aimed to improve VET standards and make VET more attractive to young people. It sought to meet their interests and encourage them to progress in their qualification by introducing flexible learning paths in secondary education and VET programmes.

VET is also the main pillar of the national strategy for entrepreneurship and youth employment (2013-16) and the Spanish strategy for employment activation (2014-16). Several VET-related short-term measures are being implemented at national and regional levels. The effectiveness, efficiency and quality of VET under the remit of the employment authorities are assessed annually. However, assessment results need to inform decision-making on VET offers.

The Reform of vocational training for employment within the labour sphere in 2015 aimed to increase continuing VET quality and improve management of public funds. This is to be guaranteed through accreditation of VET providers and by offering training leading to formal qualifications. Monitoring training outcomes, including transition to employment, will also support training quality; a common training database is being developed for this. Social partners and regional authorities participate in continuing VET quality assurance. ([6]Data adapted from Cedefop (2016). Spotlight on VET in Spain. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/publications/8104
)

Population in 2018: 46 658 447 ([7]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].)

Population has slightly decreased in recent years (-0.1%) ([8]NB: data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].). The fall was small partly thanks to positive net migration since 2016.

As in many other EU countries, the population is ageing.

The old-age dependency ratio is expected to increase from 28 in 2015 to 54 in 2060 ([9]Old-age-dependency ratio is defined as the ratio between the number of persons aged 65 and more over the number of working-age persons (15-64). The value is expressed per 100 persons of working age (15-64).).

 

Population forecast by age group and old-age-dependency ratio

Source: Eurostat, proj_15ndbims [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Demographic changes have an impact on VET.

Medium-term forecasts indicate that an important proportion of job openings will mainly come from the need to replace workers retiring or changing occupations, which will require qualified people through VET ([10]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/news-and-press/news/spain-skills-anticipation-and-future-sectoral-training-needs-outlook-and-challenges).

According to the constitution, Spanish is the official language of the State. Other languages, such as Basque, Catalan, Galician, or Valencian are also official in the respective Autonomous Communities. Regional authorities should ensure education in the official languages. Some VET providers also offer VET programmes in a foreign language.

Most companies are micro companies with fewer than 10 employees (90%)

 

Companies by number of employees in 2018

Source: INE. Companies by Autonomous Community, main activity (CNAE 2009 groups) and wage earner stratum. http://www.ine.es/jaxiT3/Tabla.htm?t=298&L=1 [extracted 14.6.19].

 

The economy grew by 3.1% in 2017 ([11]Eurostat, Real GDP growth rate – volume. Percentage change on previous year (tec00115). Last update 13.6.2018 [extracted 14.6.2018].), surpassing the European average and forecasts.

The Spanish economy shows a growing evolution towards a service economy, though in 2017 construction, the primary sector, and industry (primarily manufacturing) contributed more to GDP growth.

 

GDPmp according to components 2017 (%)

Source: INE (2018). Spain in figures 2018.

 

All economic sectors experienced a rise in employment in 2017, with three out of four employed workers in the service sector. In 2017, the share of employees increased by 2.6% compared to 2016. Employment grew in most branches of economic activity, especially in the primary sector (5.8%)

Employees by economic activity in 2017

Employed

%

Variation

Total

100

2.6

Agriculture

4.4

5.8

Industry

14.1

5

Construction

6

5.1

Services

75.6

1.9

Source: INE (2018). Spain in figures 2018.

The number of companies with employees grew by 1.75% compared with 2016, representing 44.45% of businesses in 2017.

A limited number of occupations/professions is regulated.

For some jobs, it is necessary to hold a certificate of professional competence (CAP, certificado de aptitud professional), for example, electrical and gas technicians. These certificates can be obtained by accrediting a full vocational qualification (VET diploma from the education system), a professional certificate (CdP, from the employment system) or partial qualification (units of competence, UC). In the absence any of these, it is also possible in some cases to receive specific training and take a test. Training providers in such cases must be recognised or certified by the authority in charge. Regional authorities are responsible for issuing certificates of professional competence (CAP).

The total unemployment rate ([12]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.) in 2018 was 13.9% (6% in EU-28); it has increased by 4.2 percentage points since 2008 ([13]Eurostat table une_rt_a [extracted 20.5.2019].).

 

Unemployment rate (aged 15-24 and 25-64) by education attainment level in 2008-18

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary. education; ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_urgaed [extracted on 16.5.2019]

 

Unemployment rates correlate with education attainment. Although unemployment has been decreasing steadily since 2013, in 2018 at ISCED levels 3 and 4 (where most VET learners are found) it was still considerably higher than ten years before. For those aged 15 to 24 it is more than twice as high as in the total population with the same level qualifications ([14]31.2% and 13.8% respectively.).

The employment rate of 20 to 34 year-old VET graduates increased from 67.2% in 2014 to 75.8% in 2018.

 

Employment rate of VET graduates (20 to 34 years old, ISCED levels 3 and 4)

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

In 2014-18, the increase in employment of 20-34 year-old VET graduates was higher (+8.6 pp) compared to the increase in employment of all 20-34 year-old graduates (+7.8 pp) in the same period ([15]NB: Break in series. Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

The share of the adult population aged 25 to 64 with high- level qualifications (ISCED 5-8) (39.9%) is higher in Spain that in the EU-28 (32.2%). In contrast, the share of those with medium-level qualifications (ISCED 3-4) is the lowest (22.9%) in the EU-28 while the share of those up to 64 with no or low qualifications was 39.9%, one of the highest in the EU.

 

Population (aged 25 to 64) by highest education level attained in 2018

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; no response in Czechia, Iceland, Latvia and Poland.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary. Education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_pgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower secondary

upper secondary

post-secondary

1.3%

35.3%

100.0%

Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs01, educ_uoe_enrs04 and educ_uoe_enrs07 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Share of initial VET learners from total learners at upper secondary level (ISCED level 3), 2017

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011.
Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs04 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

There are considerably more males in education authority VET programmes at all three levels: 71.1% in basic VET ISCED 353, and 56.9% and 52.4%, respectively in intermediate and higher VET. There are significant differences between professional branches.

Female students generally prefer pathways in personal image, sociocultural and community services and health.

The maritime and fishing industry sector attracts only male students, which are also in the majority in transport and vehicle maintenance, electricity and electronics, metal working and information and communications technology.

The share of early leavers from education and training has decreased from 30.9% in 2009 to 17.9% in 2018. It is still above the national target for 2020 of not more than 15%, and the EU-28 average of 10.6%.

 

Early leavers from education and training in 2009-18

NB: Share of the population aged 18 to 24 with at most lower secondary education and not in further education or training.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_14 [extracted 16.5.2019] and European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/info/2018-european-semester-national-reform-programmes-and-stability-convergence-programmes_en [accessed 14.11.2018].

 

Unemployment correlates with educational attainment. Since 2013, learner dropout from schools, among the 18-24 age group without at least a medium level qualification (upper secondary), has been a major concern for education and labour authorities. Basic VET programmes, introduced in 2014, aim to offer an attractive option for learners to remain in or return to education and training.

In 2018, the share of early leavers reached 17.9%, with a fall of 13 points in the last 10 years, though it did not reach the national target of 15% in over seven regions. It is lower among women and higher in the foreign population (35.8% compared to 15.9% among Spaniards).

 

Early leavers from education and training in the EU-28 and Spanish regions in 2017

Source: ReferNet Spain, 2018.

 

Lifelong learning offers training opportunities for adults, including early leavers from education.

 

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-18

NB: Share of adult population aged 25 to 64 participating in education and training; break in series.
Source: Eurostat, trng_lfse_01 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

According to the latest national survey on the participation of the adult population in learning activities ([16]INE (2018). Encuesta sobre la participación de la población adulta en actividades de aprendizaje 2016 [Survey on the participation of the adult population in learning activities]. INE press release; 30.11.2017.
http://www.ine.es/prensa/eada_2016.pdf
), over 47% of the population between 18 and 64 years of age carried out some type of training activity (formal or non-formal) in 2016.

The share of people in lifelong learning aged 25 to 64 in 2018 is 10.5%, slightly below the EU-28 share (11.1%).

 

Share of students by age and VET level in 2015/16 ([17]Theoretical ages are those established by law and regulation for the entry and ending of a cycle of education. Theoretical ages may differ significantly from the typical ages.)

Source: ReferNet, 2018.

 

In formal education, two-year VET programmes are offered at all three levels to school-age learners; programmes are also accessible to adults:

  • lower secondary basic VET (ISCED 353) programmes target learners over 15; mostly at risk of dropping out; most learners (55.1%) are within the theoretical age ([18]Theoretical ages are those established by law and regulation for the entry and ending of a cycle of education. Theoretical ages may differ significantly from the typical ages.), 44.1% are older (up to 24), while the share of people over 25 enrolled in basic VET is insignificant (0.8%);
  • upper secondary intermediate VET (ISCED 354) programmes are for learners aged 17-18. Almost one third (31.5%) of learners are within the theoretical age, the majority are older (44.1% are up to 24 while 20.2% are over 25);
  • higher VET (ISCED 554) programmes for learners 18-19. Their age distribution with respect to the theoretical age is 19.3% within the theoretical age, 51.6% are at most 24 and 29.1% are over 25.

These data reflect a trend to re-engage in education and training to upskill for employment.

The Spanish education and training system includes:

  • early childhood (ISCED 0)
  • primary education (ISCED 1), six years (6-12);
  • compulsory lower secondary education (ISCED 2), four years (12-16);
  • post-compulsory upper secondary programmes (ISCED 3) ([19]There are two main orientations, a general academic route and intermediate level VET. Other programmes in arts or sports are also included at this level but with a low rate of students.)
  • higher VET programmes (ISCED 5);
  • higher education academic programmes (ISCED 6,7,8).

Compulsory education includes six years in primary (6-12) and four years in lower secondary (years 12-16). The age of 16 is the end of compulsory education, irrespective of the level of education achieved, but students of lower secondary education can stay on till 18 in some cases, in order to achieve a qualification.

Formal education general and vocational programmes are regulated by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (hereafter: education ministry). VET programmes are offered at three levels:

  • lower secondary basic VET (ISCED 353) programmes target learners over 15;
  • upper secondary intermediate VET (ISCED 354) programmes for learners aged 17-18;
  • higher VET (ISCED 554) programmes for learners 18-19.

To prevent early leaving from education and training, since 2014 basic VET programmes have been offered to learners at age 15 to gain skills and have the opportunity to complete lower secondary education (called ESO in the national context).

Initial VET programmes in the education system are mostly school-based at basic level; at intermediate and higher VET, more flexible learning forms are also possible (distance learning)

Outside the education system, for learners over 16, the Ministry of Labour, Migrations and Social Security (hereafter: employment authority) offers training programmes to acquire (credits of) competences (partial or full vocational qualifications) recognised by the State; these can be accumulated towards a professional certificate (CdPs) issued by the employment authorities or a VET diploma issued by the education ministry. Flexible learning forms (through e-learning platforms) allow learners to combine learning with personal and professional life.

Formal IVET (under the education remit)

Following the 2013 education reform, basic VET programmes have been available since 2014 in the education system for learners at age 15, in parallel to general secondary programmes. The education team recommend these programmes to learners for whom they offer best option to complete their training and/or avoid early leaving, as well as those at risk of dropping out early. Learners follow a Two-year programme to acquire a basic vocational qualification and have the possibility, under some conditions, to obtain the end of lower secondary certificate (ESO diploma) which ends compulsory education. Direct access to intermediate VET is possible with or without the ESO diploma.

Formal VET programmes run on two other levels: upper secondary intermediate VET (ISCED 354) and tertiary higher VET (ISCED 554). They deliver VET qualifications (VET diplomas) that have academic and professional validity.

Education authority VET programmes are modularised and include compulsory workplace learning at the end of, or during, studies. Learners need to pass all modules to obtain the relevant qualification. However, modularisation allows partial certification and re-engagement from a lifelong learning perspective.

Artistic, sports and foreign language education have their own organisation and are considered ‘specialised education’. Specific training programmes in arts and design and in sports are offered at ISCED levels 354 and 554 in schools, specialised according to the field of studies and level of education concerned. Foreign language education is organised according to the European Framework for learning, teaching and assessment of languages (CERF) ([20]https://www.coe.int/en/web/portfolio/the-common-european-framework-of-reference-for-languages-learning-teaching-assessment-cefr-).

Formal CVET (under the employment remit) Formal vocational qualifications (professional certificates, CdPs) are also offered by the employment authorities to learners over 16; professional certificates are recognised by the State. These programmes can be delivered face-to-face or as blended learning. In the latter, the State public employment service uses experts’ opinions to set the duration of instruction that will be provided in person according to the nature of the content or the need to use certain equipment or machinery. Learning which cannot take place via simulation must be completed in traditional learning settings, as must all final assessments.

Common characteristics of IVET and CVET qualifications

Both types of formal qualification, VET diplomas and professional certificates, are expressed in learning outcomes (resultados de aprendizaje o realizaciones profesionales) and are modular in nature. They are based on occupational standards listed in the national catalogue of occupational standards (CNCP) ([21]Catálogo Nacional de Cualificaciones Profesionales (CNCP).).

Learning forms (education authority VET):

  • school-based (full or part-time);
  • dual VET (apprenticeship contracts or learning agreements) ([22]See Section 7. Apprenticeship.);
  • face to face;
  • distance learning.

The share of WBL varies from 50% to 65% depending on the level. Practical training takes place in school workshops, laboratories, simulations; a compulsory practical placement in a company (of average 400 hours, depending on the level) is included in all VET programmes/levels.

When the programme is delivered in dual VET ([23]Dual refers to all types of VET which combine work and learning with the aim to obtain vocational qualifications, which may or not take the form of an apprenticeship contract (contrato para la formación y el aprendizaje).) ([24]Education authority dual VET:
http://todofp.es/sobre-fp/informacion-general/formacion-profesional-dual.html
), it may take the form of an apprenticeship contract (contrato para la formación y el aprendizaje) or a learning agreement. The programme duration may be extended from an original two years to three; in-company practical training covers 33% - 85% of the learning hours fixed in the qualification.

In case of dual VET without a contract, a learning agreement is to be signed between the company, the school and the learner. Participants have the status of student (no age limit applies) and may benefit from a scholarship, depending on the region. The agreement must comply with the prescribed working and training conditions set in the qualification, define the duration of the learning programme (two or three years) and the involvement of the company (minimum of 33% of the training hours fixed in the qualification, with a maximum share of 85%).

Learning forms (employment authority VET):

  • face-to-face learning;
  • distance learning through virtual learning environments (e-learning platforms) or blended learning (since 2015)
  • dual VET (apprenticeship contracts) ([25]See Section 7. Apprenticeship).

In employment authority vocational training programmes, classroom-based learning in a training centre (workshops, laboratories, simulations, etc.) is combined with a compulsory practical placement in a company, of variable length depending on the programme content.

When the programme is delivered through a dual VET/apprenticeship contract (contrato para la formación y el aprendizaje) the classroom-based learning covers at least 25% of working hours in the first year and 15% in the second and third year.

Adult learning

Adult training provision is large and diverse, including literacy processes and basic education, training targeting integration into the labour market, and leisure activities. It comprises different types of provision and programmes offered by the education, employment and local authorities.

The education authorities offer specific programmes of basic education for adults ([26]Primary and secondary education.); basic VET (ISCED 353) and intermediate VET (ISCED 354) programmes are also accessible to adults.

All post-compulsory education programmes are open to adults, including higher VET ISCED 554 programmes. These may or may not include flexible attendance arrangements to combine learning with personal and professional life.

The employment authorities organise a wide range of training actions for the unemployed with the aim of improving their employability and facilitating their integration into the labour market. This provision is integrated in the system of vocational training for employment, which includes other actions aimed primarily at employed workers. Unemployed people may also participate in some of these actions.

Dual VET

The dual principle, introduced by the Royal decree of 1529/2012 ([27]Royal Decree 1529/2012 of 8 November 2012 settling the apprenticeship contract (contrato para la formación y el aprendizaje) and the basis for dual training.), has been implemented nationally to increase VET attractiveness and support young people in transition to the labour market with territorial differences in its implementation. It refers to all types of VET which combine work and learning with the aim of obtaining vocational qualifications, which may take the form of an apprenticeship contract (contrato para la formación y el aprendizaje) in education or employment authority VET programmes), or without a contractual labour relationship (only in education VET programmes).

Since 2016, apprenticeships must be linked ([28]Since 2016.) to a VET programme leading to an official qualification, issued by the education authorities (VET diplomas) or the employment authorities (professional certificates, Certificados de Profesionalidad, CdPs). Training not leading to qualifications/certificates has since been discontinued, unless it is complementary to the qualification programme undertaken by the apprentice.

Dual VET ([29]http://todofp.es/sobre-fp/informacion-general/formacion-profesional-dual.html) is delivered through apprenticeship contracts or other alternance schemes. Different dual vocational training development models coexist, depending on the greater or lesser participation of the company in the training activities, from training exclusively in the training centre to exclusively in the company.

The apprenticeship contract

This type of contract (contrato para la formación y el aprendizaje) can be signed by 16 to 25 year-olds (or up to 30 until youth unemployment decreases) with low-level qualifications ([30]People with no university, higher (ISCED 554) or intermediate (ISCED 354) VET qualification or equivalent.), for one to three years. There is no age limit for people with disabilities or who experience social exclusion.

The salary is set by collective agreement in proportion to the actual working time and cannot be lower than the minimum wage. The effective working time (work-based learning), compatible with that dedicated to training activities, cannot be more than 75% of the maximum working time during the first year, or 85% during the second and third years. The remaining share to complete the VET programme (respectively 25% and 15%) is dedicated to theoretical learning in classroom-setting.

The use or not of apprenticeship contracts depends, apart from the learners’ age, on factors such as the regional regulation, which affects how dual projects (see below) are to be set in their territorial scope, or the company willingness.

Unemployed people with no formal qualifications hired through a training and apprenticeship contract benefit from a 100% reduction in social security contributions, total social protection and unemployment benefit

Companies turning apprenticeship contracts into permanent ones (at least three years) benefit from incentives (EUR 1 500 or EUR 1 800 for women). In the case of workers enrolled in the National youth guarantee system, this incentive, in the same percentages, will consist of a bonus.

Dual projects in formal VET (learning agreements)

Learners participating in dual VET projects within the education system ([31]http://todofp.es/sobre-fp/informacion-general/formacion-profesional-dual/fp-dual-en-sistema-educativo.html) may hold an apprenticeship contract, but most frequently they sign learning agreements ([32]See Section
6. VET within education and training system.
).

In the case of dual projects, participating VET providers must be authorised to offer dual VET, must have signed an agreement with companies within each specific industry, and their dual VET projects are to be carried out in a productive environment which complies with all suitable requirements for its implementation.

Some of the main features of learning agreements are that:

  • the company will participate in a minimum of 33% of the training hours fixed in the qualification. The maximum share is 85%;
  • the duration of the learning programme can be extended from the usual two years to three;
  • learners may undertake the practical in-company placement only after having completed the first part of the programme in a training centre. Each region has different regulations on when the placement can start;
  • student assessment is the responsibility of teachers at the school or VET institution, considering the opinion of in-company tutors and trainers and work performance.

The improvement and increase in dual projects in intermediate and higher VET programmes has meant growth in the number of students, training centres and companies involved in dual VET since 2012/13. However, dual projects are still a minority compared to classroom VET programmes. In the 2016/17 school year, those enrolled in education authority dual VET only represented 3% of total VET students.

The alliance for dual training (Alianza para la FP Dual) ([33]http://www.alianzafpdual.es/) is a private initiative and an active State-wide network of institutions, research centres and companies, in place since 2015; it has been supporting implementation of dual VET in some regions, especially in education authority VET programmes.

Learn more about apprenticeships in the national context from the European database on apprenticeship schemes by Cedefop: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/apprenticeship-schemes/scheme-fiches

Legislation

The VET system is governed by Act 5/2002 on qualifications and vocational education and training (LOCFP) ([34]Head of State (2002). Ley Orgánica 5/2002, de 19 de junio, de las Cualificaciones y de la Formación Profesional [Organic Act 5/2002 of 19 June, on qualifications and vocational education and training]. Boletín Oficial del Estado, No 147, 20.6.2002, pp. 22437-22442.
https://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2002/06/20/pdfs/A22437-22442.pdf Ley Orgánica de las Cualificaciones y la Formación Profesional – LOCFP.
). This covers the training programmes included in initial and continuing VET, to enable skilling, upskilling and reskilling.

Education in Spain, including VET, is regulated by the 2006 Education Act (LOE) ([35]Head of State (2006). Ley Orgánica 2/2006, de 3 de mayo, de Educación [Organic Act 2/2006 of 3 May on Education]. Boletín Oficial del Estado, No 106, 4.5.2006, pp. 17158-17207.
https://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2006/05/04/pdfs/A17158-1207.pdf
) and the 2013 Act for the improvement of education quality (LOMCE) ([36]Head of State (2013). Ley Orgánica 8/2013, de 9 de diciembre, para la mejora de la calidad educativa [Organic Act 8/2013, of 9 December, for the improvement of educational quality]. Boletín Oficial del Estado, No 295, 10.12.2013, pp. 97858-97921.
https://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2013/12/10/pdfs/BOE-A-2013-12886.pdf
). Some measures for full implementation of the LOMCE law are pending.

Act 30/2015 ([37]Head of State (2015). Ley 30/2015, de 9 de septiembre, por la que se regula el sistema de formación profesional para el empleo en el ámbito laboral [Act 30/2015, of September 9, which regulates the vocational training for employment system in the labour scope]. Boletín Oficial del Estado, No 217, 10.9.2015, pp. 79779-79823.
https://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2015/09/10/pdfs/BOE-A-2015-9734.pdf
) regulates vocational training for employment; implementation of the new framework created is still under development.

Governance

The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training is responsible for national IVET policies, quality of IVET programmes and curricula.

The Ministry of Labour, Migrations and Social Security sets the policies for vocational training under its remit. The aim is to (up)skill and retrain the unemployed and employees, and to support employability matching skills with the needs of the local economy.

Implementation of VET policies is managed by the regions, which may shape (up to 35-45% of) IVET curricula based on local/territorial needs.

Implementation – advisory bodies

Main bodies involved in education:

  • at national level, the General Council for Vocational Training ([38]Consejo General de la Formación Profesional (CGFP).) is the Government advisory body on VET policy; it comprises representatives of education and employment authorities (at national and regional levels) as well as social partners (enterprises and trade unions);
  • the National Education Council ([39]Consejo Escolar del Estado.) is the education ministry advisory body publishing annual reports with recommendations for policy setting;
  • the sectoral education conference, made up of the minister of education and the relevant councillors of each region, may be held several times per year to coordinate education at national and regional levels.

Main bodies involved in vocational training for employment:

  • the General council for the national employment system (Consejo General del Sistema Nacional de Empleo) is the main consultative and participatory body for public authorities and social partners. In particular for VET issues, it carries out its functions through the training for employment State commission (Comisión estatal de formación para el empleo);
  • the sectoral conference on labour affairs (Conferencia Sectorial de Empleo y Asuntos Laborales) is the general instrument for coordination and cooperation between the central Government and the regions in employment policy. One of its functions is to distribute available funds between the regions;
  • the State foundation for training in employment (Fundación Estatal para la Formación en el Empleo – Fundae) ([40]Fundae:
    https://www.fundae.es
    ) is a public body comprising the State general administration, the regions and the most representative business and trade union organisations. It provides technical support to the State public employment service (SEPE), and to the labour ministry in the strategic development of the system of vocational training for employment in the work sphere.
  • joint sectoral structures ([41]Fundae - Comisiones paritarias sectoriales:
    https://www.fundae.es/Observatorio/Pages/Queson.aspx
    ) made up of the representative business and union organisations in each relevant sector ([42]They were redefined by Act 30/2015 in replacement of the joint sectoral commissions in place since 1993.). Their main task is to anticipate training needs and propose sectoral training based on their knowledge of the real productive environment; however, until Act 30/2015 is fully developed and provisions specifying their duties and ways of operating are defined, the joint sectoral commissions are still functioning.

Active labour market policies are agreed in the framework of the sectoral conference on labour affairs. The framework, coordination and implementation of these policies are based on three instruments: the Spanish strategy for employment activation, the annual plans for employment policy ([43]Plan anual de política de empleo (PAPE).) and the information system for public employment services. Regional public employment services ([44]PES.) design and manage their own policies based on this common framework, with a commitment to transparency, evaluation and results orientation.

Different types of institutions provide vocational training ([45]Integrated centres and private institutions can provide training programmes leading to both types of VET qualification (VET diplomas and professional certificates, issued, respectively by the education and employment VET authorities). VET providers per type of qualification are listed in each VET programme section.):

  • publicly-funded vocational training integrated institutions, which have autonomy regarding their organisation and management;
  • publicly-funded institutions offering vocational training;
  • national reference institutions, specialised in the different productive sectors, which are responsible for innovation and experimentation in vocational training. They may be owned and managed by different authorities;
  • public institutions of the national employment system ([46]The SEPE (State Public Employment Service) and the Public Employment Services of the Autonomous Regions conform to the National Employment System – a group of structures, measures and actions needed to promote employment policies. The most representative business organisations and trade unions are also involved.);
  • private authorised institutions of the national employment system offering vocational training for employment;
  • business organisations and trade unions, as well as other bodies benefiting from various funding schemes;
  • companies developing training actions.

Non-formal training CVET providers

Companies carrying out training activities (not leading to a State-recognised qualification) for their staff can hire external training providers or provide the training themselves. Funding for such activities comes mainly from business and worker contributions, collected and distributed countrywide. 70% of all companies that organised training for their employees in 2017 are micro SMEs with less than 10 employees ([47]More info at: Fundae (2019). Training for employment: key findings 2018.
https://www.fundae.es/Observatorio/Documents/Estad%C3%ADstica/Key%20findings%202018.pdf
).

There are subsidised training schemes (mainly through open calls for proposals) for different types of training activity for the (un)employed at no cost to learners (sectoral, cross-sectoral programmes for the (un)employed, public employment services training schemes for the unemployed).

Formal VET is mostly State-financed.

In education authority VET, most VET providers are public or publicly-funded; only one in four learners attends a private VET centre. Training centres which are 100% private do not receive public funds. Training always leads to a formal VET qualification (VET diplomas).

Qualifications in training for employment are delivered by private or public centres (integrated centres, national reference centres) accredited for each qualification. In some cases, providers can apply for public funds to cover expenses, with a cost limit per hour/per participant for each course leading to a formal VET qualification (professional certificates, CdPs).

 

Distribution (%) of public expenditure on education by activity 2017 (**)

NB: Provisional data. (*): Specialised ed., adult ed. and other types. (**): For the calculation of this distribution, adjustment and undistributed by activity items have been excluded.
Source: MEyFP (2019). Nota: Estadística del Gasto Público en Educación. Resultados provisionales Año 2017 [Note: Statistics of public expenditure on education: 2017 interim results] http://www.educacionyfp.gob.es/dms/mecd/servicios-al-ciudadano-mecd/estadisticas/educacion/recursos-economicos/gasto-publico/2017/2017NotaRes.pdf

 

Employment authority VET is funded mainly by contributions by companies and workers to social security ([48]The vocational training levy is calculated by multiplying by 0,70% company contributions for common contingencies and worker contributions to Social Security; 0,60% is provided by the company and the remaining 0,10%, by the worker.).

Funding for State-wide training schemes for the employed is managed by the State foundation for training in employment ([49]Fundae.) together with the State public employment service ([50]Servicio Público de Empleo Estatal (SEPE).). At regional level, training schemes are managed by the regional labour authorities. The national institute of public administration (INAP) manages training for civil servants.

Following the 2015 reform ([51]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/news-and-press/news/spain-government-approves-reform-vocational-training), only authorised training providers are allowed to receive funds for training leading to State-recognised vocational qualifications. Therefore, employers’ organisations, trade unions and other organisations may deliver training under the condition that they are accredited or registered as ‘other training providers’.

 

Governance and target groups – Employment VET

Source: SEPE (2018). Informe Anual 2017 [Annual report 2017]. https://www.sepe.es/SiteSepe/contenidos/que_es_el_sepe/publicaciones/pdf/pdf_sobre_el_sepe/informe_anual_2017.pdf

 

Funds allocated for vocational training for employment come mainly from the State budget, through the training levy that all private companies must pay as part of the social security contribution. This is calculated by multiplying by 0.70% company contributions for common contingencies and worker contributions to social security; 0.60% is provided by the company and the remaining 0.10%, by the worker. Other contributions come from SEPE and the regions. Training actions may be jointly financed through the European Social Fund or other European funding.

These funds are allocated to different funding schemes, providing training free of charge for the unemployed and employees:

  • training organised by companies for their employees (formación programada por la empresa);
  • subsidised training schemes through open calls for proposals, such as sectoral and cross-sectoral training programmes for the (self-)employed, including those working in the social economy (cooperatives) (planes de formación intersectoriales, sectoriales, autónomos, y economía social);
  • subsidised training schemes for the unemployed, including ‘training plans’ (planes de formación) aimed at meeting needs identified by the public employment services and specific training programmes. These are funded through open calls for proposals;
  • other training initiatives, such as individual training leave (permisos individuales de formación, PIF), alternance training (formación en alternancia), civil servant training, training in prisons, among others. The way in which these initiatives are funded varies.

 

Allocation of funds according to training initiatives for employees in 2018

NB: (*) Ceuta and Melilla’s budget have been included in in the regional calls for proposals although managed by the State Foundation for Training in Employment (Fundae).
Source: Fundae (2019). Key findings 2018. Updated March 2019.
https://www.fundae.es/Observatorio/Pages/Balance-de-resultados.aspx

 

The 2006 Education Act and the 2013 Act for the improvement of educational quality ([52]LOMCE) regulate State-wide requirements for teaching staff, initial and continuing professional development (CPD), and the conditions for recognition, support and value of VET teachers. The same requirements apply for all secondary non-university education.

The main categories of VET teachers and trainers are:

In education authority VET programmes

  • secondary school teachers;
  • technical vocational teachers;
  • when necessary, experts in different professional sectors and in-company trainers (trainers/tutors involved in practical training modules at workplaces) can participate in training delivery.

In employment authority vocational programmes:

  • trainers/instructors, teaching theoretical technical content;
  • technical teachers, providing vocational technical and practical content in situations closer to the reality of work;
  • in-company trainers/tutors.

Formal requirements for VET teachers in formal education:

VET teachers must:

  • hold a university degree (ISCED 6);
  • hold a master degree (university master degree in teacher training);
  • undergo an internship at an education centre;
  • in public education, teachers have the status of civil servants, and need to pass a complex selection process to acquire such condition.

In-company trainers are experienced professionals who guide, monitor and assess apprentices; there are no formal teaching requirements for in-company trainers.

Formal requirements in the employment sphere

Requirements for trainers/instructors depend on the type of training to be provided. In the case of training linked to the national catalogue of occupational standards (CNCP), each professional certificate regulation sets the academic and teaching qualifications and experience that trainers must meet for each training module.

Trainers must generally hold a higher qualification than the one they are delivering, at least one year of experience, and some qualification on teaching methodology for adults.

In the case of training specialities not linked to the CNCP, requirements for trainers are set in terms of qualifications, professional experience and teaching competence.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is a right and a professional duty.

Education acts (LOE and LOMCE) ([53]Ley Orgánica de Educación 2006 (LOE) [2006 Organic Law on Education]. Ley Orgánica 8/2013 para la Mejora de la Calidad Educativa (LOMCE) [Organic Law No 8/2013 on improving education quality].) set a series of guidelines for CPD. The education authorities are responsible for planning, organising and recognising continuing professional development within their scope, providing teachers with a wide range of activities. The education ministry, through the National Institute for Education Technologies and Teacher Training (INTEF), offers permanent State-wide training programmes via agreements with other institutions. Autonomous regions, at regional level, also offer continuing professional training for teachers.

Teachers’ continuing professional development is associated with career and wage progression. A grading system takes into account training and work experience for regional and national mobility; and financial benefits (supplement for lifelong learning every six years worked cumulatively). Regional education authorities may run annual training plans (training plans are not compulsory in all regions) to organise continuing professional development activities in their territory.

The National Institute of Education Technologies and Teacher Training ([54]INTEF) is developing interactive and multimedia digital education resources (including professional training) in collaboration with the regions, to support social networking, integration of ICT in non-university education, and teachers’ digital skills. The digital competence passport allows teachers to measure and monitor ICT skills development.

In both the education and the employment strands, the national reference centres ([55]Centros de Referencia Nacional (CRN):
https://www.sepe.es/HomeSepe/Personas/formacion/centros-de-referencia-nacional/centros-referencia-nacional.html
) play a key role in teacher and trainer continuing professional development activities. They offer face-to-face training courses that aim to improve methodological and technical skills and support innovation in priority areas. The main beneficiaries are VET teachers, in-company trainers and other experts/professionals from the sectors involved in employment authority training programmes.

To improve the quality of the training offer, the national reference centres (CRNs) develop guidelines and reference guides for teaching and training staff on how best to teach and assess learning outcomes taught in professional certificate programmes.

More information is available in the Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspective on teachers and trainers ([56]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/teachers-and-trainers).

The 2015 reform of vocational training for employment ([57]Act 30/2015 regulating vocational training for employment.), put the employment ministry, through the observatory of the public State employment service (SEPE), in charge of research and detection of training needs. The observatory works in coordination and cooperation with the autonomous communities, (via the sectoral conference on employment and labour issues), and the social partners (via the general council for the national employment system).

Skills anticipation in Spain takes place at different levels and in different bodies, involving substantial stakeholder/social partner engagement. Labour market and skills analysis is primarily based on data from

  • labour force survey (LFS) statistics;
  • administrative data on employment;
  • registered unemployment data collected by employment authorities;
  • ad hoc surveys carried out by public or other institutions; these may take a sectoral or more general approach;
  • the alert network of the professional observatory of the National Qualifications Institute.

These sources are used to monitor the labour market and quantify past trends to provide insight on how employment is changing.

Education and employment authorities, at national and regional levels, have their own services for monitoring labour market trends and qualifications evolution. Regular graduate tracking measures are established at regional level, without a structural approach at national level.

A collaboration agreement on reciprocal data exchange on VET graduates was signed in 2017 between the ministries of education and social security to allow tracking and analysis of their employability. A new survey on learner transition from education and training to the labour market ([58]Encuesta de Transición Educativo-Formativa e Inserción Laboral (ETEFIL).) is being prepared. It focuses on the referral course 2013-14 targeting dropouts from lower secondary (ESO); lower and upper secondary (ESO and baccalaureate, respectively), intermediate VET and higher VET graduates ([59]Results from previous ETEFIL round can be found at
https://www.mecd.gob.es/servicios-al-ciudadano-mecd/estadisticas/educacion/mercado-laboral/transicion/encuesta-2005.html
).

Other State-wide institutions monitor skill needs and trends:

  • the National Institute of Qualifications ([60]Instituto Nacional de Cualificaciones (INCUAL).) has its own observatory ([61]http://incual.mecd.es/observatorio-objetivos-y-funciones). It monitors needs for new occupational standards in all 26 professional branches and updates the national catalogue, in cooperation with sectoral and territorial observatories;
  • the State public employment service ([62]SEPE) has an Observatory of Occupations ([63]https://www.sepe.es/HomeSepe/que-es-el-sepe/observatorio.html). It publishes reports on existing and future training needs, job offers’ profiles and labour market evolution and trends. It also publishes sectoral studies, using quantitative and qualitative techniques and constantly updated social and occupational indicators;
  • the national reference centres (CRNs) as centres of innovation and experimentation in productive sectors, address changes in the demand for qualification. They liaise with business and union organisations and universities, and establish benchmarks for common use within the network.

The 2015 reform of vocational training for employment ([64]Act 30/2015 regulating vocational training for employment.) foresees the development of multi-annual skills anticipation every three years for planning the vocational training system initiatives, in line with the Spanish strategy for employment activation. It will involve the most representative business and trade union organisations, the regions, sectoral joint structures and other organisations (for self-employed workers and entities of the social economy). Other ministerial departments, observatories and experts may also collaborate ([65]For further information, please check Skills Panorama (2017). Skills anticipation in Spain. Analytical highlights series.
https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/analytical_highlights/skills-anticipation-spain
).

See also Cedefop’s skills forecast ([66]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/skills-forecast) and European skills index ([67]https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/indicators/european-skills-index)

See also national forecast and identification of training needs reports produced by the State public employment service (SEPE) ([68]http://www.sepe.es/HomeSepe/que-es-el-sepe/observatorio/necesidades-formativas.html).

Stakeholders are involved in designing and updating VET qualifications in line with labour market needs. They develop occupational standards in all sectors of the economy; these make up the national register (CNCP) ([69]Catálogo Nacional de Cualificaciones Profesionales (CNCP).) and are used as reference for designing and updating VET programmes and qualifications ([70]Cedefop (2019). Spotlight on VET – 2018 compilation: vocational education and training systems in Europe. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/publications/4168
).

Occupational standards

The backbone of VET is the national catalogue of occupational standards (CNCP) ([71]Catálogo Nacional de Cualificaciones Profesionales.), which comprises the most important occupations organised in 26 sector branches. It currently has 668 occupational standards on three levels, according to the degree of complexity, autonomy and responsibility necessary to carry out a work activity ([72]http://incual.mecd.es/bdc).

Occupational standards ([73]Cualificación Profesional, in the national context.), consist of a set of competence units (UCs) reflecting the expected performance of a job holder in the respective occupation. A competence unit is defined as ‘the minimum set of professional skills that can be partially recognised and certified’. Each competence unit is associated to a learning module, which describes the necessary learning (knowledge, skills and competences) required to achieve that unit. The learning specifications are expressed as capacities (learning outcomes) and their related assessment criteria, as well as the contents leading to the achievement of those capacities. The capacities to be completed in a real working environment are also identified.

 

Structure of occupational standards

Source: INCUAL.

 

Occupational standards are used by the education and employment authorities to design VET qualifications: VET diplomas and professional certificates (CdP).

  • VET diplomas are composed of a set of these occupational standards ([74]This set consists of several occupational standards, encompassing all or some of their UCs.);
  • a single occupational standard is used for each professional certificate ([75]In some exceptional cases, an occupational standard has given rise to two CdP programmes.).

As stated in Act 5/2002, the Government establishes the equivalences and recognition between VET diplomas (issued by education authorities) and professional certificates (issued by employment authorities) through competence units.

The national institute of qualifications ([76]Instituto Nacional de las Cualificaciones (INCUAL).) is responsible for defining, drawing up and updating the national catalogue of occupational standards (CNCP) and the corresponding competence units and learning modules, in active cooperation with VET stakeholders ([77]Organisations in the General council for vocational training.). Regions have an active role in the development of some professional branches according to their productive context; this is the case for Galicia in the maritime and fishing industry (MAP) or for País Vasco in metalworking (FME).

Experts from the 26 professional branches, covering both the productive and training sectors, work together to define the occupational units of competence and the standards of the reference profiles in the production system. A competence unit is then described in terms of the professional tasks that skilled workers do.

Updating and reviewing all vocational qualifications is continuous and starts with standards older than 5 years or when the changes in the production sectors make it advisable to update before five years. This process involves all parties, including experts from companies and VET institutions, as well as an external validation of the revised occupational standards, based on current labour market needs analysis in terms of skills supply and demand in all sectors and professional branches. INCUAL collects information through various channels using qualitative and quantitative approaches and VET qualifications are updated accordingly. New occupational standards are created based on identified emerging professional profiles.

National reference centres (CRN) are in charge of planning and carrying out activities for innovation, experimentation and training, which serve as a point of reference for the whole national system of qualifications and vocational training for the development of VET.

Recently, INCUAL has improved its observatory and created an early warning system network, with different stakeholders, to identify prospective trends and changes in professional profile requirements and to draw up and, if necessary, modify the occupational standards.

VET diplomas (education authority VET)

These are based on the occupational standards included in the CNCP. They are offered at basic, intermediate and higher levels, have an academic and professional value and signify both an education level and the professional qualification obtained. They are accessible to learners enrolled to basic, intermediate and higher VET programmes.

A working group of educational and technological experts, drawn from the related productive sector and different regions, work together to design and draw up each diploma programme. Educational experts are usually teachers or trainers in the same professional field. Several consultation rounds take place before a VET qualification is approved by the Government and all interested groups and institutions can express their considerations ([78]See the webpage on new diplomas (drafts) on the official website of the Ministry of Education.
TodoFP.es: nuevos títulos (LOE); borradores:
http://www.todofp.es/todofp/que-como-y-donde-estudiar/que-estudiar/nuevos-titulos/borradores.html
). All main advisory bodies are involved in the process:

  • the sectoral education conference;
  • the general council for vocational training (CGFP),
  • the national education council;
  • when other authorities have responsibilities in the occupation or professional fields to which the curriculum of the diploma programmes refers, their favourable report is a prerequisite for approval and publication in the official gazette (BOE).

VET diploma programmes, defined according to learning outcomes, are approved by royal decrees for 55-65% of national curricula, ensuring the validity and the consistency of the qualifications nationally. Between 45 and 35% of the curricula contents are settled at regional level, according to the socioeconomic characteristics of the immediate environment. These royal decrees also establish the facilities, equipment requirements for VET providers, assessment criteria and teacher requirements for each VET diploma programme.

VET diploma programmes consist of different modules: some are linked to occupational standards (the occupations covered by the diploma) while others ease access to employment such as business and entrepreneurship (Empresa e iniciativa emprendedora) or professional training and guidance modules (Formación y orientacion laboral, FOL). Personal and social skills are also covered transversely in all modules making up the curriculum of VET in the education system.

Starting in 2015, VET diploma programmes are being updated and adapted to the requirements of the productive sectors ([79]In 2018, five new diplomas were approved: Access and conservation in sports facilities (basic VET); Assembly of structures and installation of aeronautical systems; Recreation boat maintenance technician; Maintenance of wooden structures and furniture of pleasure boats and Food marketing (the last four at intermediate VET level).), including and reinforcing the eight key competences in a cross curricular way. Currently, there are 170 different Diplomas ([80]For further info on VET diplomas, see the Ministry of Education’s website on guidance and VET:
TodoFP.es - Qué, Cómo y Dónde estudiar:
http://www.todofp.es/que-como-y-donde-estudiar.html
):

  • 34 in basic VET (Título profesional básico) (ISCED 353)
  • 62 in intermediate VET (Título de Técnico) (ISCED 354)
  • 92 in higher VET (Título de Técnico Superior) (ISCED 554)

Professional Certificates (employment authority VET) ([81]Certificados de Profesionalidad (CdPs).)

Professional Certificates (CdPs) are State-recognised vocational qualifications issued by the employment authorities. They are based on occupational standards and are developed and updated by the State public employment service (SEPE), with the cooperation of the national reference centres. SEPE also produces teaching and assessment guides ([82]https://www.sepe.es/HomeSepe/Personas/formacion/certificados-profesionalidad/guias-aprendizaje.html).

A common curriculum is set for each, regardless of the region and irrespective of the type of training programme (full-time, e-learning), based on the standards set in the national catalogue of occupational standards (CNCP). Whenever an occupational standard or competence unit changes or is updated, the relevant CdP is also reviewed and changed accordingly.

Professional certificate programmes are organised in three levels, level 1 being the most basic and level 3 the most complex. They have a modular structure with learning outcomes, assessment criteria and contents and guidelines for providers which are fully employment-oriented. Each professional certificate also includes a compulsory on-the-job training module (módulo de formación práctica en centros de trabajo) whose learning outcomes must be assessed in the workplace. The total duration of the professional certificate programmes ([83]In July 2014 the national repertoire of professional certificates (Repertorio Nacional de Certificados de Profesionalidad - RNCP) was finalised with 583 different programmes referred to the different CNCP´s qualifications in the national catalogue of occupational standards (Catálogo Nacional de Cualificaciones Profesionales - CNCP).) varies, according to the structure of competences and learning outcomes to be acquired without reference to a specific academic year. The duration of the on-the-job training module depends on the profile and occupations included in the curriculum of each diploma, ranging from 5% to 52% of the total workload of the training programme.

 

Features of the 583 CdP learning programmes listed in the national catalogue of occupational standards (CNCP)

Source: ReferNet, based on results from SEPE’s search tool of training specialities [accessed 24.10.2018].

 

To adapt training programmes to the target audience, employed or unemployed workers, the workload of the training modules (Módulos formativos) associated with competence units (UCs) lasting 90 hours or more is split into shorter training units (unidad formativa, UF), with a minimum of 30 hours, based on an analysis of the competences with which they are associated.

Before their publication in the official gazette, all professional certificates undergo consultation with education and employment bodies: the general council for vocational training (CGFP), the training for employment State commission and the sectoral conference on labour affairs.

Professional certificates have a double effect: they set out training programmes and award a vocational qualification. As the competence unit is the minimum unit to be certified, it is possible to gain partial credits for a professional certificate.

Professional certificate programmes can be delivered face-to-face or as blended learning. In the latter, the State public employment service uses experts’ opinions to set the duration of instruction to be provided in person according to the nature of the content or the need to use certain equipment or machinery. Learning which cannot take place via simulation must be completed in traditional learning settings, as must all final assessments.

Holding a professional certificate indicates the ability to work in a particular field, in line with the classification of occupations, and guarantees the necessary vocational training, although it does not regulate professional activities (this is done by the relevant body in that profession).

Education and labour authorities establish, by mutual agreement and previous consent of the General Council for Vocational Education and Training, the basic quality indicators and requirements for education and training based on the national catalogue of occupational standards (CNCP).

The education system subscribes to a process of quality assurance ([84]http://incual.mecd.es/calidad-y-evaluacion-del-sistema) covering all aspects of education activities. Two differentiated means are used in support:

  • inspection of the education system (including VET) organised between the State and regional education authorities;
  • evaluation of the education system, including assessment of school performance and teaching staff performance.

Quality assurance in education authority VET is threefold:

  • state-level;
  • regional level, by the autonomous communities;
  • local level, by education institutions.

Since 2000, the evaluation institute of the education (INEE) ([85]Instituto Nacional de Evaluación Educativa (INEE):
http://www.mecd.gob.es/inee
), in collaboration with the regions, uses statistical indicators to run annual assessments; the results drawn are used for policy decision making. The process is in line with the European quality assurance reference framework (EQAVET).

At the end of each year schools evaluate results obtained to see if they are satisfactory and if the training offered is aligned with local socio-economic needs.

An integrated information system is in place in vocational training for employment. It collects complete and up-to-date information on the training activities funded by public calls throughout the State and is used for assessing the effectiveness of vocational training for employment.

The 2015 reform (Act 30/2015) provides quality assurance mechanisms, coordinated by the State public employment service (SEPE). These are:

  • evaluation of training actions and schemes, run by the State public employment service (SEPE) together with regional bodies and social partners through:
    • ex-ante evaluation aiming to identify training needs and objectives;
    • ex-post evaluation, through use of indicators to monitor efficiency, results and areas for improvement;

Funds are allocated to sectoral joint committees to develop annual plans and recommendations;

  • evaluation of public calls to fund training actions:
    • periodic ex-post evaluation of training initiatives by independent external bodies;
    • evaluation of subsidised training impact for beneficiaries (usually, the unemployed and employees);
  • quality evaluation of training activities for employment, which includes a satisfaction survey of beneficiaries ([86]https://www.fundae.es/Observatorio/Pages/Instrumentos.aspx). Training providers support assessment processes for the training they provide.

A 2018 study ([87]https://www.fundae.es/Observatorio/Pages/informes-de-Evaluaci%C3%B3n.aspx
https://blog.fundae.es/?s=formadores
) analyses the elements that impact on the quality of trainers and tutors in training actions not linked to State-recognised qualifications (professional certificates, CdPs) financed by the 2013-14 public call.

Accredited VET centres delivering CdP programmes have to submit a training project including the didactic planning and assessment of each training module making up the certificate. Training providers are monitored by the public employment services to verify conformity with the requirement of the order establishing a professional certificate programme; whether face-to-face, e-learning or part of dual training. This may include visits to training providers to gather physical evidence and testimonies about their implementation.

The process for validation of prior learning (VPL) is regulated by the Royal decree 1224/2009 ([88]Ministry of the Presidency (2009). Real Decreto 1224/2009, de 17 de julio, de reconocimiento de las competencias profesionales adquiridas por experiencia laboral [Royal Decree 1224/2009, of July 17, on recognition of professional skills acquired through work experience]. Boletín Oficial del Estado, No 205, 25.8.2009, pp. 72704-72727.
https://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2009/08/25/pdfs/BOE-A-2009-13781.pdf
). The aim is to support skills creation to (re)enter the labour market, especially for early leavers and adults with no or low qualifications. The framework covers the whole spectrum of professional skills included in the national catalogue of occupational standards (CNCP).

There are also opportunities for adults to sit entrance examinations to gain access to studies which lead to an official qualification, such as those for intermediate and higher vocational training programmes.

The National Institute of Qualifications ([89]Instituto Nacional de Cualificaciones (INCUAL):
http://incual.mecd.es/acreditacion
) ensures the maintenance and update of the national catalogue of occupational standards (CNCP), which are used by the education or employment authorities to establish vocational qualifications (VET diplomas and professional certificates-CdPs). The National Institute of Qualifications uses a set of quality criteria to guarantee the reliability, objectivity and technical rigor of the validation process. Validation of prior learning allows workers to have their skills recognised either to find a job, move between workplaces or advance in their careers.

Regional authorities (autonomous communities) implement the validation process through public calls published (jointly or not) by education and labour authorities at regional level. Regions also provide information on the number of places (beneficiaries) available and are responsible for guidance services and quality assurance of the validation process ([90]Validation inventory 2016, available at
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/2016_validate_es.pdf
). These procedures empower citizens to engage in further learning and acquire full qualifications. Demand for recognition may be driven by company needs, social partner requests or minimum qualification requirements from sectoral regulatory bodies, depending on local or sectoral labour market needs.

The calls lay down which competence units ([91]A UC is defined as ‘the minimum set of professional skills that can be partially recognised and certified’. The VET system is modular, occupational standards may include several competences units (education authority VET diplomas may include one or more occupational standards, while professional certificates are usually composed of one occupational standards).) are to be validated, vocational qualifications and sector branches involved; they may also limit the maximum number of people to be assessed in each competence unit. Competence units to be validated are individually assessed and certified and may be accumulated towards a full qualification in IVET and CVET.

 

Share of validation beneficiaries in 2017

Source: Data provided by INCUAL, 2018.

 

To acknowledge work experience, applicants must be able to prove at least three years of experience relevant to the skills being assessed, with a minimum of 2 000 working hours in the ten years previous to the call. In the case of non-formal training ([92]Non-formal learning in VET is essentially any training programme which does not directly lead to official qualifications.), applicants must prove they have received at least three hundred hours of training not leading to official recognition in the ten years before the call.

The process is divided into the following three phases:

  • mandatory advisory phase (either in person or online) to help candidates assess their own skills, fill out their personal and training record and present the evidence backing up their application. The guidance counsellor uses this documentation to report whether the applicant may enter the next phase. If the report is negative, the counsellor advises the candidate to undertake supplementary training and proposes available training courses;
  • assessment: this aims to prove whether the applicants can demonstrate their skills in real or simulated work situations;
  • certification: candidates receive certification for each of the competence units they have successfully passed. The set of certified UCs may correspond to a complete or partial CdP certificate, or a partial lVET Diploma.

Between 2010 and 2017, these public calls offered a total of 277 079 assessment places across 24 sector branches ([93]No public calls have been published for the sector branches of Textile, clothing industry and leather and of Glass and ceramics. The number of assessment places called varies from one year to another according to the different industry requirements in each region. Most of these places were in the Sociocultural and community services professional branch since workers in social care services need to be qualified to assist people with social care needs, at home or in social institutions. The number of places in the Security and environment branch is also growing - especially in the field of management and handling of harmful organisms and pest control, related to the European biocide regulation - and in Health for sanitary transport and first aid care to multiple victims. Physical and sports activities branch stood out in 2017, mainly to accredit lifeguards in aquatic facilities or natural spaces.).

A national procedure for the validation of skills acquired in volunteering activities ([94]http://www.injuve.es/empleo/noticia/aprobado-el-nuevo-sistema-de-reconocimiento-de-la-educacion-no-formal) with young people is also currently being developed. It will be a free and telematic (online) service.

There are other possibilities for recognition of prior learning by means of different exams targeting adults that wish to obtain the basic education (ESO) or general upper secondary (Bachillerato) certificates or IVET qualifications (at all three levels, basic, intermediate and higher VET diplomas) without having to complete the corresponding studies. These exams are periodically organised by the education authorities.

For more information about arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning please visit Cedefop’s European database ([95]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/european-database-on-validation-of-non-formal-and-informal-learning).

Scholarships and grants for IVET learners

There are three types of financial incentive to begin or pursue a programme of studies which are valid throughout the country:

  • financial support based on the applicant’s socio-economic circumstances;
  • grants based on the applicant’s socio-economic circumstances and academic achievement;
  • awards aimed at students with high academic achievement.

Eligibility requirements, as well as household income and capital thresholds, are updated annually.

IVET learners can apply for scholarships and grants, distributed through annual calls published by the education ministry and the regions. During the economic downturn, amendments were made to the scholarship regime and study grants for students in non-university post compulsory education, imposing the shared responsibility of recipients to obtain satisfactory results. The distribution of public expenditure among the various educational activities, scholarships and study grants reached 4.2% in 2016. In 2018, the budget allocated to scholarships and grants is the highest in recent years. The trend is to increase the number of grant holders but reduce the average amount received per beneficiary.

International internships

VET mobility projects aim to increase the employability of young graduates in VET, as well as language proficiency, soft skills and professional competences. Under the Erasmus + 2015 programme, extended until 2017, there were 310 VET mobility projects, mainly apprentice mobility (EUR 20 million investment) and staff mobility (EUR one million). 86% of participants were learners, 14% were teachers and other staff.

Information and guidance tools

The education authority promotes VET through its dedicated web portal ([96]www.Todofp.es), visited by four million users per year. The portal was updated in 2017. It includes VET programmes, Europass supplements ([97]http://www.todofp.es/orientacion-profesional/itinerarios-formativos-profesionales/movilidad/que-es-el-suplemento-europass/titulos-loe.html. Europass supplements for CdPs at
https://www.sepe.es/HomeSepe/Personas/formacion/certificados-profesionalidad/suplementoseuropass.html
), labour market information, and information on VET competitions such as SpainSkills, EuropeSkills and WorldSkills. It also has a dedicated section (Acredita) on validation of informal and non-formal learning ([98]http://www.todofp.es/orientacion-profesional/itinerarios-formativos-profesionales/movilidad/que-es-el-suplemento-europass/titulos-loe.html
http://www.todofp.es/sobre-fp/competiciones-de-fp.html
http://www.todofp.es/acreditacion-de-competencias.html
).

Regional education authorities also have web sections directly linked to/from the portal and implement measures to boost VET enrolment in their territories.

News tools in place include an app for mobile phones to find documents in the portal’s library; an online guidance tool, Choose your own pathway ([99]Decide tu itinerario:
http://www.todofp.es/decide/
) and an on-site customer service point with a variety of communication channels (email, instant messaging, social media networks like Twitter and Facebook, and telephone enquiries).

Incentives for the employed

The 2012 labour reform and the 2015 employment authority VET reform (Act 30/2015) laid down different incentives for workers such as the training account, linked to workers' social security number, and the ‘training voucher’ for workers to choose their training and provider; neither of these incentives has yet been implemented.

Workers have the right to 20 hours of annual training related to the company's activity; these hours can be accumulated over a period of five years. Nevertheless, this right, in place since 2012, has not yet been fully developed through other legal provisions.

Individual training leave for the employed (PIF) ([100]Permiso Individuales de Formación.)

Employees can take part in training programmes run by their companies or participate in other training schemes. They can apply for individual training leave (PIF) from their companies, to improve their skills at no cost to the company. Employees have the right to 200 working hours for educational purposes, with the company agreement. The company is reimbursed for the salary of that worker by the State Foundation for Training in Employment (Fundae) and the worker receives his/her salary during the training leave. Individual training leave is intended to provide workers wishing to improve their personal and professional skills with the opportunity to attend officially recognised or formal training courses. Workers can also take this type of leave to undergo the procedure for recognition of prior learning acquired through work experience or non-formal education.

In 2017, only a minority of individual training leave (4.5%) was used to carry out training to obtain a professional certificate (CdP). Individual training leave was mostly used to attend formal education (76.8%) or other training courses (18.7%) leading to other qualifications ([101]Mainly professional driving licences and other types of certificate of professional competence (such as the Certificado de aptitud professional - CAP, necessary to perform certain jobs: electrical and gas technicians).). More than 40% of individual training leave beneficiaries are between 36 and 45 years old; women beneficiaries account for 42.0% (a two percentage point increase since 2016).

 

Allocation of funds according to training initiatives for employees – 2018

(*) Ceuta and Melilla’s budget have been included in in the regional calls for proposals although managed by the State Foundation for Training in Employment (Fundae).
Source: Fundae (2019). 2018 Key findings. https://www.fundae.es/Observatorio/Pages/Balance-de-resultados.aspx

 

Incentives for the unemployed

Unemployed workers may also take part in some of the different training schemes within the training for employment system. Participants can request, if necessary, reimbursement for travel, accommodation and meal expenses during the training period. In some cases, they can also apply for financial aid for other issues, particularly if they have family responsibilities.

Incentives for dual VET learners and apprentices

The introduction of a dual system in education authority VET offers young people at risk an insight into the labour market. Based on first preliminary data - available from training centres or regional authorities – the employment rate of dual VET learners is usually higher than in traditional school based VET.

Training and apprenticeship contracts are offered in IVET and CVET. They target mostly unemployed people who lack formal qualifications and have seen positive results since the 2012 labour reform. Hired apprentices benefit from a 100% reduction in social security contributions, total social protection, unemployment benefit and training (training for at least 25% of working hours in the first year and 15% in the second and third year). The training may lead to a full qualification (professional certificate) or partial certification of a set of competence units towards a professional certificate or a VET diploma.

Supporting VET provider capacity

Education authority VET programmes are offered by both State-funded centres and private centres. One in four learners attends a private centre. To ensure equity and equality of opportunities, private education centres may receive funds to offer teaching free of charge (these are called publicly-funded private centres). Increased funding ([102]On average, EUR 64 000 per group.) supports creation of more free VET places in these centres.

Increased funding was also allocated to the regions for implementing VET policies in their territories ([103]Dual VET (EUR 1.2 million), basic VET (EUR 208.9 million) and other VET programmes (EUR 1.3 million); additional funding in 2017 for basic VET (EUR 149 million) and other training programmes (EUR 1.3 million).).

Since the 2013 education reform (LOMCE Act) education centres have greater autonomy in using the funds allocated from the State budget to improve their training offer. They may run actions to test how to tailor their training offer to local needs/skills (pilot projects, new work plans or forms of organisation, and increase hours devoted to certain subjects) ([104]Results are assessed by the centres themselves, the inspection services, the regional education authorities and by the National Institute of educational evaluation (INEE) and must be publicly available.).

Vocational training providers under the employment authority can apply, on a competitive basis, for funding (with financial incentives or subsidies depending on the type of initiative) to carry out training actions in the regional or State calls for proposal published annually. Since Act 30/2015, only recognised training providers ([105]Before this reform, social partners were the only ones entitled to apply for these calls, whereas following Act 30/2015 a system of competitive competition between training centres has been put in place, excluding social partners as such. More information at
http://prensa.empleo.gob.es/WebPrensa/downloadFile.do?tipo=documento&id=2.464&idContenido=1.732
) can apply for such financial aid. Training is funded based on cost per participant/hour, which differs by delivery mode (e-learning or face—to-face).

National reference centres, running innovative and experimental training activities, schedule training courses which, due to the lack of equipment and facility requirements, are not offered by the usual network of vocational training centres.

Financial incentives

Within the training for employment system, companies receive discounts on their social security contributions for providing training to their employees. The yearly training credit (the amount for which they can receive a discount) available to each company is calculated by applying a fixed percentage to the training quota amount in the previous year. Companies with fewer than six employees receive a minimum credit (420€). This percentage is ranging from 100% for businesses with six to nine employees to 50% for big companies (250 or more). Businesses with more than 10 employees are obliged to finance part of the training cost, which again varies depending on the size of the company: 10% for companies with 10-49 employees, up to 40% for large companies.

Training and apprenticeship contract regulations set different incentives for companies to hire trainees, in the form of reduced employer social security contributions, or additional bonuses to fund the costs of in-company tutors, as well as other incentives when apprentices become permanent staff.

Education and vocational guidance are highlighted for improvement in the national VET system. In recent years, different reforms ([106]Head of State (2011). Ley 2/2011, de 4 de marzo, de Economía Sostenible [Act 2/2011 of 4 March, on Sustainable Economy]. Boletín Oficial del Estado, 5.3.2011, pp. 25033- 25235.
http://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2011/03/05/pdfs/BOE-A-2011-4117.pdf
) - complementing dispositions from Act 5/2002 on qualifications and vocational training - aimed to improve counselling and career guidance services, mainly through:

  • the development of an integrated information and guidance system;
  • the setting of a State-wide network to ensure access to information and career guidance for all citizens, including specialised services for businesses and the self-employed;
  • development of an integrated computing platform on professional guidance linked, where appropriate, to the relevant European networks;
  • coordination and monitoring of guidance services in line with national policies on education, employment and social inclusion.

Since then, various developments have taken place.

The education reform (Act 8/2013, LOMCE), generally maintains education and vocational guidance on the same terms as in the 2006 education Act (LOE). However, it includes new aspects related to compulsory secondary education:

  • an ’orientation and guidance’ report is delivered to the student’s parents at the end of general or vocational lower secondary programmes,
  • a report on the degree of achievement of learning outcomes and acquisition of relevant skills, as well as a proposal for a career path;
  • special focus on guidance in the new basic VET programmes.

Education legislation assigns the immediate responsibility for guidance to teachers, as part of students’ general education and training. State education centres offer professional guidance services for students and parents.

To support and widen guidance and counselling services in schools, regional education authorities are launching strategies and varied resources tailored to the specific needs arising from their own labour market ([107]Example from Murcia Region: http://www.llegarasalto.com/formacionpasional/).

The education ministry has been developing and broadening a series of actions, such as a new State-wide organisation of information and career guidance services; creation and maintenance of digital platforms for information and vocational guidance, and other projects linked to the dissemination of vocational training and guidance ([108]MECD. TodoFP.es: acreditación de competencias (the webpage on skills validation on the Ministry of Education’s website on VET):
http://www.todofp.es/acreditacion-de-competencias.html MECD. Formación profesional a través de Internet (vocational training through Internet):
http://www.mecd.gob.es/fponline.html
).

The Service for Internationalisation of Education (SEPIE), as the Spanish Erasmus+ national agency for education and training, also supports information services to promote learning opportunities abroad.

In the employment sphere the common employment services portfolio ([109]MEYSS, 2015. Real Decreto 7/2015, de 16 de enero, por el que se aprueba la Cartera Común de Servicios del Sistema Nacional de Empleo [Royal Decree 7/2015 of 16 January, by which the Common Employment Services Portfolio of the National Employment System is approved]. Boletín Oficial del Estado, No 31, 5.2.2015, pp. 9422-9435.
http://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2015/02/05/pdfs/BOE-A-2015-1056.pdf
) offers career guidance services to advise unemployed and employed workers on training and employment opportunities, as well as on the recognition and validation of their skills ([110]Labour authorities also have a web portal on validation of the skills acquired through work experience (
RECEX). SEPE Reconocimiento de las competencias profesionales adquiridas
https://sede.sepe.gob.es/portalSedeEstaticos/flows/gestorContenidos?page=recexIndex
). A further step in its implementation has been the publication of protocols and quality criteria for the provision of guidance services which all public employment services in Spain must comply with ([111]Reference guides for the development of such protocols were published in 2018: MEYSS (2018). Seguimiento de indicadores de empleo de la Estrategia Europa 2020. Junio 2018 [Monitoring of employment indicators of the Europe 2020 strategy. June 2018]. Observatorio; 6.2018.
http://www.mitramiss.gob.es/es/sec_trabajo/analisis-mercado-trabajo/pnr/observatorio/numeros/2018/junio/observatorio.pdf
). These protocols aim to define and set up individual professional paths to improve workers’ employability. They also aim to develop entrepreneurship and to support business and self-employment initiatives, by identifying workers’ skills, training and experience, interests, family situation and possible professional opportunities, as well as other relevant variables. This information will be used to prepare the workers’ profiles and their classification based on their employability.

All IVET programmes contain at least one or several vocational modules related to guidance, labour relations and the development of entrepreneurial culture, although these issues are also treated in a cross-curricular manner.

All VET students and trainees have to undertake an on-the-job training module that is carried out in a real productive setting. This module enables them to gain work experience and put their skills into practice, as well as learn about the organisation of productive processes or services and labour relations, guided by education and workplace tutors.

Please see:

Vocational education and training system chart

Tertiary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

Higher VET

programmes

WBL up to 65%,

2 years

ISCED 554

Higher VET programmes (FP de grado superior - título de Técnico Superior), ISCED 554
EQF level
The Spanish education system is not referenced to EQF levels.
ISCED-P 2011 level

554

Usual entry grade

13

Usual completion grade

15

Usual entry age

18

Usual completion age

20

Length of a programme (years)

2

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Not applicable (learners are over 18)

ECVET or other credits

VET programmes are based on learning outcomes with a strong focus on work-based learning. Higher level VET programmes under Act 2/2006 (LOE) have 120 ECTS credits.

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school based learning (face to face), including work-based learning at workshops, labs, simulations, etc /full-time or on a part time modular basis;
  • distance learning ([142]And, in exceptional cases, workers over 16 unable to attend a regular school regime or elite athletes.);
  • dual VET (with or without training and apprenticeship contract);
  • work placement module (formación en centros de trabajo – FCT) – compulsory training module of 400 hours.

Higher VET programmes run in a 2-year programme of 2 000 hours of theoretical and practical training, of which a minimum of 400 hours are completed in workplaces ([143]All VET studies include a compulsory work placement module (formación en centros de trabajo - FCT) that takes place in a company (students with previous work experience may be exempt).).

In 2016/17, 12% of all learners enrolled in higher VET followed distance learning courses, over 3% were in the dual modality and more than half of all learners at this stage were 22 or older.

Main providers

Main education authority VET providers include:

  • public, publicly-funded private and private institutions approved by the competent educational authority;
  • integrated training centres which are public and provide both initial vocational training within the education system, and vocational training for employment;
  • national reference centres, which are public institutions specialised in the different professional branches, in charge of carrying out innovation and experimentation initiatives in the area of vocational training.

Public, publicly-funded private and private centres are the main providers of education authority VET programmes; only one in four learners attends private centres.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Up to 65%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training at school (workshops, labs, simulations, etc.);
  • work placement module (formación en centros de trabajo – FCT) – compulsory training module of 400 hours at a workplace (students with previous work experience may be exempt);
  • dual VET (apprenticeships):

(i) training and apprenticeship contracts ([144]https://www.sepe.es/HomeSepe/que-es-el-sepe/comunicacion/publicaciones/publicaciones-oficiales/listado-pub-empleo/formacion-profesional-dual-contrato-para-la-formacion-y-el-aprendizaje.html);

(ii) dual VET projects offered within the education system and implemented by the regions ( (based on learning agreements between the VET provider, the learner and the company).

Main target groups
  • learners over 18

There is a large share of students older than the theoretical school age: in the school year 2016/17: over 50% were 22 or older ([145]MEyFP (2019). Las cifras de la educación en España. Curso 2016-2017 (Edición 2019) [Key figures of education in Spain: academic year 2016/17 (2019 edition)].).

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Higher VET are accessible to:

  • holders of the Bachillerato ([146]The end of upper secondary education diploma, allowing access to tertiary level academic or vocational studies.) diploma;
  • graduates from Intermediate VET (ISCED 354) programmes;
  • learners over 18, through validation of prior learning (formal/informal/non-formal).
Assessment of learning outcomes

Higher level VET programmes run in a 2-year programme of 2 000 hours, (equivalent to two full-time academic years, up to three when taken as a dual programme), of theoretical and practical training, of which a minimum of 400 hours are completed in workplaces. These programmes are made up of different vocational modules, which are expressed in terms of contents, evaluation criteria and learning outcomes, considering professional, personal, social and lifelong learning skills. They comprise:

  • vocational modules specific to each programme which must include the competence units and the social and personal skills aimed to be achieved;
  • a work placement module. Those who get recognition of their professional competence acquired through work experience or non-formal training may be totally or partially exempt from the work placement module;
  • one or more modules on vocational training and guidance and business and entrepreneurial initiative.
  • a project.

Assessment has a continuous, formative nature and is carried out by modules. Progression to the following year depends on the result of the assessment. Marks are expressed in numbers from one to 10, being five or over considered as a pass.

The work placement vocational module is expressed in terms of Passed/Failed. Those who get recognition of their professional competence acquired through work experience or non-formal training may be totally or partially exempt from the work placement module.

As a result of the assessment process, the relevant decisions on students’ progression are taken collegially by the teaching team at the end of each year.

Completion of a VET programme requires a pass grade in all the modules, and students may take the same programme up to a maximum of 4 years.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Higher VET programmes lead to a VET diploma (título de Técnico Superior) at ISCED level 554 allowing access to academic studies at tertiary level (programmes offered at ISCED levels 665 and 766) bachelor programmes through an admission procedure.

Examples of qualifications

Travel agencies and event organisation / sector: hospitality and tourism industry (Agencias de Viajes y Gestion de Eventos / Familia Profesional: hostelería y turismo) ([147]The list of VET diplomas offered in IVET is available (in Spanish) from the Ministry of Education official website on guidance and VET, MECD.
TodoFP.es: Qué, Cómo y Dónde estudiar.
http://www.todofp.es/que-como-y-donde-estudiar.html. Europass supplements for higher VET Diplomas are available at
http://www.todofp.es/orientacion-profesional/itinerarios-formativos-profesionales/movilidad/que-es-el-suplemento-europass/titulos-loe/grado-superior-en-ingl-s.html
)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Holders of an higher VET diploma may

  • enter the labour market;
  • access academic programmes offered at ISCED level 665 (Bachelor programmes 3-4 years).
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

VET diplomas, established by decrees, are composed of a set of occupational standards ([148]668 standards in 26 sector branches are listed in the national catalogue of occupational standards (Catálogo Nacional de Cualificaciones Profesionales - CNCP).
https://incual.mecd.es/documents/35348/0/folleto_incual_2015_ingles.pdf/3763b486-bc7e-4c3c-8382-a3842e4a6e19
); each of which includes a set of competence units (UCs). UC is the minimum set of professional skills that can be partially recognised and certified.

Competence units acquired either in the VET system or through validation of non-formal learning are individually assessed and certified and may be accumulated towards a full qualification in IVET and CVET.

General education subjects

N

Higher VET programmes are made up of vocational modules which vary in length, with theoretical and practical contents corresponding to the different professional fields, and also include lifelong learning skills.

  • vocational modules, specific to each professional field, linked to national catalogue of professional standards (CNCP);
  • a work placement vocational module, to be completed in a workplace;
  • vocational modules related to career guidance, business and entrepreneurial initiative;
  • a project module.
Key competences

Y

Key competences to be taken as a reference:

  • information processing and digital competence;
  • competence in linguistic communication;
  • competence in knowledge and interaction with the physical world;
  • social and civic competence.
Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

VET diploma programmes (established by Royal decrees) are based on learning outcomes with a strong focus on work-based learning, following ECVET guidelines.

National curricula account for 55-65%, the remaining 45-35% of the programme curricula are settled at regional level aligned to local socioeconomic characteristics.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

49%

In 2017-18, the share of learners enrolled in higher VET programmes was 49% (393 531 learners) against 9% in basic VET and 42% in intermediate VET programmes.

 

Evolution of IVET students in the education system, 2008-18

(*) Advance data; the data do not include certain initial VET programmes (PCPI) that have been replaced in this period, as they did not lead to a VET degree, but include those for the new Basic VET.
Source: prepared by ReferNet Spain with data from Statistics from the education ministry.

 

Higher arts and design programmes,

2 years

Higher sports programmes,

1 year

ISCED 554

Higher sports or higher arts and design programmes (Grado Superior de Enseñanzas Deportivas o Grado Superior de Artes Plásticas y Diseño) ISCED 554 diploma
EQF level
The Spanish education system is not referenced to EQF levels.
ISCED-P 2011 level

554

Usual entry grade

13 (for arts and design programmes)

12 (for sports programmes)

Usual completion grade

15 (for arts and design programmes)

13 (for sports programmes)

Usual entry age

18 (for arts and design programmes)

18 (for sports programmes)

Usual completion age

20 (for arts and design programmes)

18 (for sports programmes)

Length of a programme (years)

2 (arts and design programmes)

1 (sports programmes)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Compulsory education in Spain includes

  • six years in primary school (learners aged 6 to 12)
  • four years in lower secondary education (ESO in Spanish) (learners aged 12 to 16)
Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Information not available

Is it offered free of charge?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Not applicable (learners are already over 18)

ECVET or other credits

VET programmes are based on learning outcomes with a strong focus on work-based learning, following ECVET guidelines. ([138]https://ec.europa.eu/education/resources-and-tools/the-european-credit-system-for-vocational-education-and-training-ecvet_en)

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

Information not available

These programmes are offered in schools that are specialised according to the type and level of education in artistic or sports fields and can only be taken face to face.

Main providers

Main education authority VET providers include public, publicly-funded private and private institutions approved by the competent educational authority.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Information not available

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

These programmes are offered in schools that are specialised according to the type and level of education in artistic or sports fields

Main target groups
  • learners over 18 (for arts and design programmes);
  • learners over 18 (for sports programmes).
Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Arts and design ISCED 554 programmes

  • to gain access to the higher level VET in arts and design, it is necessary to hold the upper secondary qualification (baccalaureate) or equivalent, and pass a specific test to prove knowledge and skills necessary to take advantage of these programmes;
  • exemption from the test is possible in certain cases, such as: Higher level VET diploma of Plastic Arts and Design of a professional branch related to the programme to undertake or equivalent; Baccalaureate in Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Architecture or Technical Engineering in Industrial Design, Higher Title of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Property;
  • in absence of previous requirements, be 19 years old and passing an entry test or be 18 and hold an intermediate level VET diploma in arts and design;
  • the entry test has two parts: general part dealing with the knowledge and basic skills of the common subjects of the baccalaureate; and a specific part to assess the artistic knowledge and the necessary skills to take advantage of these programmes.

Sports programmes:

  • upper secondary education qualification (baccalaureate) or equivalent for academic purposes;
  • sports technician diploma in the corresponding modality or sports;
  • the baccalaureate diploma can be substituted by passing a test in which maturity is demonstrated in relation to the objectives of the baccalaureate. To take this test, learners have to be 19 years old or 18 years with a diploma in Intermediate level VET in physical and sports activities sector branch;
  • this test can be substituted by the common part of the test of access to higher level VET programmes;
  • in addition to the general requirements, each modality may require other conditions, such as accreditation of certain sporting merits or passing of a specific test of the modality or sport specialty.
Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment is continuous and takes into account the progress and the academic maturity of the students, in relation to the general objectives and the professional competencies of the programme.

The evaluation is carried out by modules, taking as reference their objectives expressed in terms of skills and competences and their respective assessment criteria.

The results of the final evaluation of each module are expressed in terms of grades according to a numerical scale from zero to ten. Qualifications equal to or greater than five are considered positive and the rest will be negative.

The results of the evaluation of the practical training are expressed in terms of "apt / not apt".

Diplomas/certificates provided

Higher technician diploma plastic arts and design (título de Técnico Superior de Artes Plásticas y Diseño);

Higher technician diploma in the modality or sports specialty (Título de técnico deportivo superior en la modalidad o especialidad deportiva).

Examples of qualifications
Progression opportunities for learners after graduation
  • access to higher education;
  • babour market.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Arts and design or sports programmes, established by decrees, are composed of a set of occupational standards ([141]668 standards in 26 sector branches are listed in the national catalogue of occupational standards (Catálogo Nacional de Cualificaciones Profesionales - CNCP).
https://incual.mecd.es/documents/35348/0/folleto_incual_2015_ingles.pdf/3763b486-bc7e-4c3c-8382-a3842e4a6e19
); each of which includes a set of competence units (UCs). UC is the minimum set of professional skills that can be partially recognised and certified.

Competence units acquired either in the VET system or through validation of non-formal learning are individually assessed and certified and may be accumulated towards a full qualification in IVET and CVET.

General education subjects

N

Key competences

N

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

VET diploma programmes (established by Royal decrees) are based on learning outcomes with a strong focus on work-based learning, following ECVET guidelines.

National curricula account for 55-65%, the remaining 45-35% of the programme curricula are settled at regional level aligned to local socioeconomic characteristics.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

<2%

In the school year 2016/17, 14 531 students followed higher arts & design or higher sports programmes, out of 818 506 students at education authority VET.

94.6% of them were in arts & design and the other 5.4% at sports programmes at this level.

Post-secondary

Programme Types
Not available

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

Basic VET programmes

WBL up to 50%,

2 years

ISCED 353­

Basic VET programmes (FP Básica, Título profesional básico) ISCED 353
EQF level
The Spanish education system is not referenced to EQF levels.
ISCED-P 2011 level

353

Usual entry grade

10 ([114]Possible route only after guidance advice at age 15 (or older).)

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

15 ([115]Possible route only after guidance advice at age 16 (or, exceptionally at age 15).)

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

2

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Compulsory education in Spain includes

  • six years in primary school (learners aged 6 to 12)
  • four years in lower secondary education (ESO in Spanish) (learners aged 12 to 16)

Basic VET programmes are an alternative option offered to learners ([116]To enter Basic VET learners must meet certain age and academic requirements. Requirements for Basic VET are: (a) to be between 15 and 17 years old by the end of the year they start these studies; (b) to have finished the first cycle of secondary compulsory education (that is, three years) or exceptionally, have finished the second course of secondary compulsory education; and (c) to be recommended by teaching staff and have parents (or self if he/she is emancipated) consent. Education authorities, apart from compulsory education, can also offer basic VET to people who are over 17 and do not have a VET or a secondary qualification.) who have not completed lower secondary to stay in education and training.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Education authorities, apart from compulsory education, can also offer basic VET to people who are over 17 and do not have a VET or a secondary qualification.

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Y

Education authorities, apart from compulsory education, can also offer basic VET to people who are over 17 and do not have a VET or a secondary qualification.

ECVET or other credits

VET programmes are based on learning outcomes with a strong focus on work-based learning, following ECVET guidelines.

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • School based learning (face to face), including work-based learning at workshops, labs, simulations/full-time (young people);or on a part- time modular basis (adults)) ([117]And, in exceptional cases, workers over 16 unable to attend a regular school regime or elite athletes.);
  • work placement module (formación en centros de trabajo, FCT) compulsory training module of 240 hours;
  • dual VET (with or without an apprenticeship contract). Around 15.3% of basic VET learners were over 18 years old in the school year 2016/17, and fewer than 1% were enrolled in these programmes in the dual modality.

Enrolments in education authority VET, 2016-17

2016-17

Total VET

Dual VET

Basic Cycle

69 528

414

Intermediate Cycle

343 920

7 422

Advanced Cycle

377 937

12 521

Total

791 385

20 357

Source: Ministry of Education (2018)., https://www.educacionyfp.gob.es/dam/jcr:113353c4-7f3d-4005-88ac-e944ceb94200/nota-16-17.pdf

Main providers

Main education authority VET providers include:

  • public, publicly-funded private and private institutions approved by the competent education authority;
  • in some cases, integrated training centres which are public and provide both initial vocational training within the education system, and vocational training for employment.

Public, publicly-funded private and private centres are the main providers of education authority VET programmes; only one in four learners attends private centres.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Up to 50%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training at school (workshops, labs, simulations);
  • work placement module (formación en centros de trabajo, FCT), of 240 hours at a workplace;
  • dual VET (apprenticeships);
Main target groups
  • Learners over 15
  • Adults (under specific conditions)

Basic VET programmes were first developed to prevent early leaving from education and training. They allow people to complete compulsory education and gain a basic VET qualification (VET diploma, in the national context or Título profesional básico).

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Requirements for basic VET are:

  • to be between 15 and 17 years old by the end of the year they start these studies;
  • to have finished the first cycle of secondary compulsory education (three years) or exceptionally, have finished the second course of secondary compulsory education;
  • to be recommended by teaching staff and have parents (or by self if he/she is emancipated) consent.

Education authorities, apart from compulsory education, can also offer basic VET to people who are over 17 and do not have a VET or a secondary qualification.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Basic VET programmes run in a two-year programme of 2 000 hours, (equivalent to two full-time academic years, up to three when taken as a dual programme), of theoretical and practical training, of which a minimum of 240 hours are completed in workplaces ([119]All VET studies include a compulsory work placement module (formación en centros de trabajo - FCT) that takes place in a company (students with previous work experience may be exempt).).

These programmes are made up of different vocational modules, which are expressed in terms of contents, evaluation criteria and learning outcomes, considering professional, personal, social and lifelong learning skills.

They comprise modules linked to competence units of the national catalogue of professional standards; and modules linked to the acquisition of lifelong learning skills such as communication and society and applied sciences modules, which include Spanish language, foreign language, social sciences, mathematics and science both applied to the personal and learning context in a professional field; there is also a specific module in a work place environment.

Assessment has a continuous, formative nature and is carried out in modules. Progression to the following year depends on the result of the assessment. Marks are expressed in numbers from one to 10, where five or over is a pass.

The work placement module is expressed in terms of passed/failed. Those who get recognition of their professional competence acquired through work experience or non-formal training may be totally or partially exempt from the work placement module.

As a result of the assessment process, the relevant decisions on student progression are taken collegially by the teaching team at the end of each year.

Completion of a VET programme requires a pass grade in all the modules, and students may take the same programme up to a maximum of four years.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Basic VET programmes lead to a basic VET diploma (Título profesional básico) that has academic and professional validity.

Students who finish basic VET will obtain the lower secondary education diploma (título ESO) directly if the teaching staff considers they have achieved the objectives and necessary skills of ESO level.

Examples of qualifications

Basic level applicator of phytosanitary pesticides ([120]The list of VET diplomas offered in IVET is available (in Spanish) from the Ministry of Education’s website on guidance and VET, MECD:
TodoFP.es: Qué, Cómo y Dónde estudia:
http://www.todofp.es/que-como-y-donde-estudiar.htm
) /sector: Agriculture (aplicador/a de nivel básico de plaguicidas de uso fitosanitario/ Familia Profesional: Agraria)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Holders of a basic VET diploma may

  • enter the labour market, or
  • enrol directly to intermediate VET programmes (ISCED 354) or
  • obtain the ESO ([121]Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO) is the end of lower secondary compulsory education diploma, necessary to access higher level studies.) diploma, if the teaching staff considers they have achieved the objectives and necessary skills of ESO level, opening up access to upper secondary general education programmes
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

VET diplomas, established by decrees, are composed of a set of occupational standards ([122]668 standards in 26 sector branches are listed in the national catalogue of occupational standards (Catálogo Nacional de Cualificaciones Profesionales - CNCP).
https://incual.mecd.es/documents/35348/0/folleto_incual_2015_ingles.pdf/3763b486-bc7e-4c3c-8382-a3842e4a6e19
), each of which includes a set of competence units (UCs). UC is the minimum set of professional skills that can be partially recognised and certified.

Competence units acquired either in the VET system or through validation of non-formal learning are individually assessed and certified and may be accumulated towards a full qualification in IVET and CVET.

General education subjects

Y

Basic VET programmes are made up of vocational modules (which vary in length, with theoretical and practical contents corresponding to the different professional fields) and lifelong learning skills:

  • learning modules linked to competence units of the national catalogue of occupational standards (CNCP);
  • a work placement vocational module, to be completed in a workplace;
  • modules for the acquisition of lifelong learning skills (Spanish, other official and/or foreign language, social sciences, mathematics and sciences);
  • all basic VET programmes include cross-curricular skills like team work, occupational risk prevention, entrepreneurship, business activity and work orientation of students.
Key competences

Y

Since 2015, VET diploma programmes are being updated and adapted to the requirements of the productive sectors, including and reinforcing the eight key competences in a cross curricular way.

Basic VET programmes are made up of vocational modules which vary in length, with theoretical and practical contents corresponding to the different professional fields, and also include lifelong learning skills.

All Basic VET programmes ([123]Made up of vocational modules which vary in length, with theoretical and practical contents corresponding to the different professional fields, lifelong learning skills are also included.) include cross-curricular skills:

  • teamwork, health and safety at work; entrepreneurship, business and career counselling;
  • respect for the environment and promotion of physical activity and a healthy diet;
  • skills related to reading comprehension, oral and written expression, ICT and civic and constitutional education.
Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

VET diploma programmes (established by Royal decrees) are based on learning outcomes with a strong focus on work-based learning, following ECVET guidelines. National curricula account for 55-65%, the remaining 45-35% of the programme curricula are settled at regional level aligned to local socioeconomic characteristics.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

<9% ([124]2017/18)

In 2017-18, the share of learners enrolled in basic VET programmes was 9% (72186 learners), against 42% enrolled in intermediate VET (339112 learners) and 49% (393531 learners) in higher VET programmes. Enrolment in basic VET increase by 3.8% compared to the previous year ([125]In the school year 2016/17, 69 528 students followed Basic VET programmes out of 818 506, compared with 42% at intermediate level and 46% at higher level VET.).

Basic VET programmes were first implemented in 2014. In 2015-16, half (55.1%) of those enrolled in basic VET were young people aged 15-17 (theoretical age for this type of programme) or young adults up to 25 (44.1%)

Share of students according to age by VET level programme, 2015-16

NB: Theoretical ages refer to the ages as established by law and regulation for the entry and ending of a cycle of education. Theoretical ages may differ significantly from the typical ages.
Source: Prepared by authors with data from education ministry. MECD (2018). Las cifras de la educación en España. Estadísticas e indicadores. Edición 2018 [The figures of education in Spain. Statistics and indicators. Statistics 2018]. Madrid: MECD. https://www.mecd.gob.es/servicios-al-ciudadano-mecd/estadisticas/educacion/indicadores-publicaciones-sintesis/cifras-educacion-espana/2015-16.html) .

Intermediate VET

programmes

WBL up to 65%,

2 years

ISCED 354

Intermediate VET programmes (FP de grado medio - Título de Técnico), ISCED 354
EQF level
The Spanish education system is not referenced to EQF levels.
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

11

Usual completion grade

13

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

2

3 (when combined with a training and apprenticeship contract)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

VET programmes are based on learning outcomes with a strong focus on work-based learning, following ECVET guidelines ([128]https://ec.europa.eu/education/resources-and-tools/the-european-credit-system-for-vocational-education-and-training-ecvet_en).

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school based learning (face to face), including work-based learning at workshops, labs, simulations, etc./full-time (young people);or on a part time modular basis (adults);
  • distance learning (adults) ([129]And, in exceptional cases, workers over 16 unable to attend a regular school regime or elite athletes.);
  • dual VET (with or without a training and apprenticeship contract);
  • work placement module (formación en centros de trabajo – FCT) – compulsory training module of 400 hours.

Intermediate VET programmes run in a 2-year programme of 2 000 hours of theoretical and practical training, of which a minimum of 400 hours are completed in workplaces ([130]All VET studies include a compulsory work placement module (formación en centros de trabajo - FCT) that takes place in a company (students with previous work experience may be exempt).).

In 2016/17, 3% of learners enrolled in intermediate VET followed distance learning courses, over 2% were enrolled in the dual modality and over 45% of all learners at this stage were 20 or older ([131]MECD (2018). Nota: Estadística del alumnado de formación profesional – Estadística de las enseñanzas no universitarias. Curso 2016-2017 [Note: Statistics on non-university education. Academic year 201/17].
http://www.educacionyfp.gob.es/dam/jcr:113353c4-7f3d-4005-88ac-e944ceb94200/nota-16-17.pdf; data base:
https://www.educacionyfp.gob.es/servicios-al-ciudadano/estadisticas/no-universitaria/alumnado/formacion-profesional/2016-2017.html
).

Main providers

Main education authority VET providers include:

  • public, publicly-funded private and private institutions approved by the competent educational authority;
  • integrated training centres which are public and provide both initial vocational training within the education system, and vocational training for employment;
  • occasionally, national reference centres, which are public institutions specialised in the different professional branches, in charge of carrying out innovation and experimentation initiatives in the area of vocational training.

Public, publicly-funded private and private centres are the main providers of education authority VET programmes; only one in four learners attends private centres.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Up to 65%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training at school (workshops, labs, simulations, etc.);
  • work placement module (formación en centros de trabajo – FCT) – compulsory training module of 400 hours at a workplace (students with previous work experience may be exempt);
  • dual VET (apprenticeships);

(i) training and apprenticeship contracts ([132]https://www.sepe.es/HomeSepe/que-es-el-sepe/comunicacion/publicaciones/publicaciones-oficiales/listado-pub-empleo/formacion-profesional-dual-contrato-para-la-formacion-y-el-aprendizaje.html);

(ii) dual VET projects offered within the education system and implemented by the regions ( (based on learning agreements between the VET provider, the learner and the company).

Main target groups
  • learners over 16;
  • adults.

There is a large share of students older than the theoretical school age: in the school year 2016/17: 45.6% were 20 years old or older ([133]MEyFP (2019). Las cifras de la educación en España. Curso 2016-2017 (Edición 2019) [Key figures of education in Spain: academic year 2016/17 (2019 edition)].).

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Intermediate VET are accessible to:

  • holders of the ESO ([134]Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO) is the end of lower secondary compulsory education diploma, necessary to access higher level studies.) diploma;
  • graduates from Basic VET (ISCED 353) programmes;
  • young people over 17 and adults, through validation of prior learning (formal/informal/non-formal).
Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment takes as reference the objectives, expressed in learning outcomes, and the evaluation criteria of each of the vocational modules, as well as the general objectives established (by legislation) for each VET programme.

Completion of a training programme requires a pass grade in all the vocational modules.

 marks are expressed in numbers from one to 10, whole numbers only a five or over is considered a pass;

 the work placement vocational module, however, is expressed in terms of Passed/Failed.

IVET programmes last 2 000 hours, the equivalent to two full-time academic years, up to three when taken as a dual programme. Assessment has a continuous, formative nature and is carried out by professional modules.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Intermediate VET programmes lead to a VET diploma with academic and professional validity (Título de Técnico) at ISCED level 354 allowing access to higher VET (ISCED 554) studies at tertiary level.

Examples of qualifications

Aquaculture ([135]The list of VET diplomas offered in IVET is available (in Spanish) from the Ministry of Education official website on guidance and VET, MECD. TodoFP.es: Qué, Cómo y Dónde estudiar.
http://www.todofp.es/que-como-y-donde-estudiar.html Europass supplements for Intermediate VET Diplomas are available at
http://www.todofp.es/orientacion-profesional/itinerarios-formativos-profesionales/movilidad/que-es-el-suplemento-europass/titulos-loe/grado-medio-en-ingl-s.html
) / sector: Maritime and fishing industry (Cultivos Acuícolas / Familia Profesional: Marítimo pesquera)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Holders of an intermediate VET diploma may

  • enter the labour market;
  • enrol directly to higher VET programmes (ISCED 554);
  • return to upper secondary general education programmes ([136]Leading to Bachillerato, the end of upper secondary education diploma, necessary to access tertiary level academic studies.) if they wish, but this is rather an unusual option.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

VET diplomas, established by decrees, are composed of a set of occupational standards ([137]668 standards in 26 sector branches are listed in the national catalogue of occupational standards (Catálogo Nacional de Cualificaciones Profesionales - CNCP).
https://incual.mecd.es/documents/35348/0/folleto_incual_2015_ingles.pdf/3763b486-bc7e-4c3c-8382-a3842e4a6e19
); each of which includes a set of competence units (UCs). UC is the minimum set of professional skills that can be partially recognised and certified.

Competence units acquired either in the VET system or through validation of non-formal learning are individually assessed and certified and may be accumulated towards a full qualification in IVET and CVET.

General education subjects

Intermediate VET programmes are made up of vocational modules (which vary in length, with theoretical and practical contents corresponding to the different professional fields) and lifelong learning skills:

  • vocational modules, specific to each professional field, linked to the national catalogue of professional standards (CNCP);
  • a work placement vocational module, to be completed in a workplace;
  • one or more vocational modules related to employment guidance and labour relations and the development of the entrepreneurial spirit;
  • voluntary subjects, such as communication in Spanish, co-official and/or foreign language; applied mathematics;
  • where appropriate, any subject related to professional field easing access to higher VET programmes.
Key competences

Y

Key competences to be taken as a reference:

  • information processing and digital competence;
  • competence in linguistic communication;
  • mathematical competence;
  • competence in knowledge and interaction with the physical world;
  • social and civic competence;
Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

VET diploma programmes (established by Royal decrees) are based on learning outcomes with a strong focus on work-based learning, following ECVET guidelines. National curricula account for 55-65%, the remaining 45-35% of the programme curricula are settled at regional level aligned to local socioeconomic characteristics.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

42%

In 2017-18, the share of learners enrolled in intermediate VET programmes was 42% (339 112 learners) against 9% in basic VET and 49% in higher VET programmes.

The majority of intermediate VET students were enrolled in full-time courses, with 8% of them participating in distance learning.

 

Evolution of IVET students in the education system, 2008-18

(*) Advance data; the data do not include certain initial VET programmes (PCPI) that have been replaced in this period, as they did not lead to a VET degree, but include those for the new Basic VET.
Source: prepared by ReferNet Spain with data from Statistics from the education ministry, 2018.

 

Arts and design programmes,

2 years

Sports programmes,

1 year

ISCED 354

Arts and design or sports programmes (Grado Medio de Artes Plásticas y Diseño o Grado Medio de Enseñanzas Deportivas), ISCED 354
EQF level
The Spanish education system is not referenced to EQF levels.
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

11

Usual completion grade

13 (for arts and design programmes)

12 (for sports programmes)

Usual entry age

17

Usual completion age

19 (for arts and design programmes)

18 (for sports programmes)

Length of a programme (years)

2 (arts and design programmes)

1 (sports programmes).

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Compulsory education in Spain includes

  • six years in primary school (learners aged 6 to 12);
  • four years in lower secondary education (ESO in Spanish) (learners aged 12 to 16).
Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Information not available

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

VET programmes are based on learning outcomes with a strong focus on work-based learning, following ECVET guidelines. ([126]https://ec.europa.eu/education/resources-and-tools/the-european-credit-system-for-vocational-education-and-training-ecvet_en)

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

These programmes are offered in schools that are specialised according to the type and level of education in artistic or sports fields and can only be taken face to face.

Main providers

Main education authority VET providers include public, publicly-funded private and private institutions approved by the competent educational authority.

Both type of programmes are offered by specialized providers:

  • schools of plastic arts and design: public or private centres authorized by the competent educational administration;
  • Sport programmes: they do not have a specific denomination: public or private centres authorized by the competent educational administration, whether they are integrated in the IVET centres or in sports federations' centres.
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Information not available

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

These programmes are offered in schools that are specialised according to the type and level of education in artistic or sports fields and can only be taken face to face.

Main target groups
  • Learners over 16
Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Arts and design programmes

  • holding a lower secondary education (ESO) or equivalent qualification and passing a specific test to prove knowledge and skills necessary to take advantage of these programmes;
  • exemption from the test is possible in certain cases: i.e. holding a baccalaureate in Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Architecture or Technical Engineering in Industrial Design, intermediate or higher level VET diploma in Plastic Arts and design of a professional family related to the teachings to pursue, at least one year of related work experience;
  • learners not fulfilling entry requirements may sit an entry exam which consists of two parts: a general part dealing with the basic skills of Compulsory Secondary Education; and a specific part, to assess the artistic knowledge and the necessary skills to take advantage of these programmes.

Sports programmes:

They are organized in two cycles called initial or first level and final or second level.

  • entry requirements for the initial cycle of sports education: it is necessary to hold the diploma of lower secondary education or equivalent; for the final cycle of sports education, it is necessary to have passed the initial cycle in the corresponding sports specialty;
  • in addition, it may be required to pass a specific exam, or to accredit a sporting merit. High-level or high-performance athletes are exempt;
  • learners with at least 17 years and lacking the lower secondary qualification my sit an exam in relation to lower secondary education curriculum.

Entry through validation of prior learning is possible in the arts and design/sports programmes

Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment is continuous and takes into account the progress and the academic maturity of the students, in relation to the general objectives and the professional competencies of the programme.

The evaluation is carried out by modules, taking as reference their objectives expressed in terms of skills and competences and their respective assessment criteria.

The results of the final evaluation of each module are expressed in terms of grades according to a numerical scale from zero to ten. Qualifications equal to or greater than five are considered positive and the rest negative.

The results of the evaluation of the practical training, are expressed in terms of "apt / not apt".

Diplomas/certificates provided

Arts and design or sports programmes lead to:

  • Technician diploma in arts and design (Título de Técnico de Artes Plásticas y Diseño);
  • Technician diploma in the corresponding sport (Título de Técnico deportivo que corresponda).
Examples of qualifications

Plastic arts and design in ceramic decoration (Artes Plásticas y Diseño en Decoración cerámica).

Judo and self defense (Judo y defensa personal)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Holders of an ISCED level 354 diploma in sports or in arts and design programmes have different progression opportunities:

  • students who finish plastic arts and design or sports programmes have direct access to the general education two-year programme leading to Baccalaureate (Bachillerato);
  • students holding the diploma of plastic arts and design technician, and at least 18 years old, are able to enter, by passing a test, the higher plastic arts and design programmes;
  • students holding the diploma of sports technician can access the higher sports programmes, being at least 18 years old, and after passing a specific test of the modality or sport specialty;
  • enter the labour market.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Arts and design or Sports programmes, established by decrees, are composed of a set of occupational standards ([127]668 standards in 26 sector branches are listed in the national catalogue of occupational standards (Catálogo Nacional de Cualificaciones Profesionales - CNCP).
https://incual.mecd.es/documents/35348/0/folleto_incual_2015_ingles.pdf/3763b486-bc7e-4c3c-8382-a3842e4a6e19
); each of which includes a set of competence units (UCs). UC is the minimum set of professional skills that can be partially recognised and certified.

Competence units acquired either in the VET system or through validation of non-formal learning are individually assessed and certified and may be accumulated towards a full qualification in IVET and CVET.

General education subjects

N

Key competences

N

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

VET diploma programmes (established by Royal decrees) are based on learning outcomes with a strong focus on work-based learning, following ECVET guidelines.

National curricula account for 55-65%, the remaining 45-35% of the programme curricula are settled at regional level aligned to local socioeconomic characteristics.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

<2%

In the 2016/17 school year, 12 590 students were enrolled in Art and design or Sport programmes at this level, out of 818 506 students at all education authority VET programmes.

  • 27% of them were in arts and design programmes;
  • 73% followed sports programmes.

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

Professional certificate

programmes – level 1

200-540 hours

WBL % vary

ISCED 254

Professional certificate programmes – level 1 (certificado de profesionalidad (CdP) – nivel 1)
EQF level
The Spanish VET system is not referenced to EQF levels.
ISCED-P 2011 level

254

Usual entry grade

Not applicable

Usual completion grade

Not applicable

Usual entry age

Not applicable

Usual completion age

Not applicable

Length of a programme (years)

1 (up to)

Duration of professional certificates programmes level 1 range from 200 to 540 hours, according to the structure of competences and learning outcomes to be acquired without reference to a specific academic year.

Professional certificates programmes are organized by modules (from 30 to 240 hours), which can be individually assessed and certified (accumulated) to obtain the corresponding certification.

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Professional certificate programmes are accessible to learners over 16.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

The Spanish VET system is governed by the education and employment ministries. Professional certificates are under the authority of the employment ministry. They are regulated by Royal Decree 34/2008. MEYSS (2008).

Is it initial VET?

N

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Professional certificates programmes are free of charge for certain groups, within active labour market policies.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school based learning (face to face), including work-based learning at workshops, labs, simulations, etc.;
  • through virtual learning environments (e-learning platforms, complemented with face to face learning). The regulation specifies which CdP programmes can be delivered online, how many hours have to be face to face, and the requirements for the accreditation of e-learning platforms and tutors, as well as the evaluation and assessment procedures to ensure that e-learning training programmes meet the quality criteria set for traditional school-based VET programmes;
  • apprenticeships: the purpose of the apprenticeship contract (contrato para la formación y el aprendizaje) is the professional qualification of the workers, in a regime of alternating paid work activity in a company, with training activity.
Main providers
  • public training centres (including integrated training centres and national reference centres–CRN);
  • private training centres;
  • foundations and intermediate structures created by social partners and NGOs.

All types of providers offering programmes leading to professional certificates (CdPs) ([150]Certificados de Profesionalidad.) must by accredited by the state public employment service (SEPE) or by the regional labour authorities. CdP training centres are listed in an online search engine tool run by SEPE ([151]https://sede.sepe.gob.es/especialidadesformativas/RXBuscadorEFRED/InicioBusquedaTipoCentro.do).

CdP programme providers must comply with specific requirements on the recruitment, qualifications and professional experience of trainers; on facilities and technological equipment; and on entry criteria for trainees. These requirements are set by the labour authorities.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Varies

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training in the training centre;
  • compulsory on-the-job training module (módulo de formación práctica en centros de trabajo);
  • training and apprenticeship contracts.

The learning outcomes of the on-the-job module must be assessed at the workplace.

The duration of the on-the-job training module depends on the profile and occupations included in the curriculum of each diploma, ranging from 5% to 52% of the total workload of the training programme.

Main target groups
  • young people over 16;
  • adults.

Most training programmes included in the different subsidised initiatives for unemployed workers are directly linked to obtaining a full or partial professional certificate (certificado de profesionalidad - CdP). The aim is to support skills development and employability.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Learners must be at least 16 year olds.

No other 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 ([152]Cedefop (2019). Spotlight on VET – 2018 compilation: vocational education and training systems in Europe. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/publications/4168
).

Assessment of learning outcomes
  • to obtain a professional certificate, learners must successfully complete all the training modules (competence units-USs) of that certificate;
  • in addition to this training pathway, all or several of the competence units included in each certificate can be assessed and certified (accumulated) by taking part in one of the national or regional calls for validation and accreditation of non-formal learning;
  • the learning outcomes to be assessed in each module are related to knowledge as well as practical skills and abilities set in the assessment criteria of each module;
  • the accredited centres delivering CdP programmes have to submit a training project including the didactic planning and assessment of each training module making up the certificate.

Professional certificates are developed and updated by the state public employment service (SEPE), with the cooperation of the national reference centres; they are issued by the employment authorities (published in the official gazette).

Professional certificates have a double effect: they set out training programmes and award a vocational qualification.

The regulation specifies which CdP programmes can be delivered online, how many hours have to be face to face, and the requirements for the accreditation of e-learning platforms and tutors, as well as the evaluation and assessment procedures to ensure that e learning training programmes meet the quality criteria set for traditional school-based VET programmes ([153]Education authority VET programmes curricula may include one or several occupational standards.).

Diplomas/certificates provided

Professional certificates (CdPs) are based on occupational standards listed in the national catalogue of professional qualifications (CNCP) ([154]https://incual.mecd.es/documents/35348/0/folleto_incual_2015_ingles.pdf/3763b486-bc7e-4c3c-8382-a3842e4a6e19) and they are modular in nature ([155]The smallest unit that can be certified is the competence unit (unidad de competencia - UC).). Each professional certificate corresponds to a single occupational standard ([156]In some exceptional cases, an occupational standard has given rise to two CdP programmes.).

Competences units (being the minimum unit to be certified) could be accumulated towards a professional certificate. The modular structure of professional certificates serves a double purpose: tailoring training programmes to a specific job profile, and be used as a guide for the assessment of skills ([157]Links with formal education authority VET programmes: competences units acquired outside the school system may be recognised and exempted when enrolling in a formal VET programme, shortening its duration.).

Examples of qualifications

CdP level 1 - – Basic operations in accommodations (HOTA0108) / Hospitality and tourism sector branch ([158]https://www.sepe.es/SiteSepe/contenidos/personas/formacion/certificados_...)

Operaciones básicas de pisos en alojamientos / Familia Profesional: hostelería y turismo

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Holders of a professional certificate (CdP) level 1 may

  • enter the labour market;
  • may move on to the next CdP level in limited professional fields;
  • accumulate (partial) ([159]CdPs are modular; the minimum unit that can be assessed and certified is the competence unit (partial certificate).) or full CdP certificates towards the acquisition of a VET diploma (through training or validation of prior learning).
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

Full or partial ([160]Professional certificates are modular in nature, composed of a set of modules (competence units - UCs), defined at national level. CdPs are listed in the national catalogue of qualifications (CNCP) structured by professional branches.) qualifications (professional certificates – CdPs) may be obtained through validation of non-formal and informal learning. The process is initiated by regional authorities through public calls for validation of non-formal and informal learning, depending on local or sectoral labour market needs.

The calls lay down which UCs are to be validated, vocational qualifications and sector branches involved, and they may also limit the maximum number of people to be assessed in each UC.

General education subjects

N

Key competences

N

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

VET programmes are based on learning outcomes with a strong focus on work-based learning, following ECVET guidelines

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

22.65% of all professional certificates issued in 2017.

 

Source: Data provided by SEPE at 06.7.2018.

 

Professional certificate

programmes – level 2

180-920 hours

WBL % vary

ISCED 351

Professional certificate programmes – level 2 certificado de profesionalidad (CdP) – nivel 2
EQF level
The Spanish education system is not referenced to EQF levels.
ISCED-P 2011 level

351

Usual entry grade

Not applicable

Usual completion grade

Not applicable

Usual entry age

Not available

Usual completion age

Not applicable

Length of a programme (years)

1 (up to)

Duration of professional certificates programmes level 2 range from 180 to 920 hours, according to the structure of competences and learning outcomes to be acquired without reference to a specific academic year.

Professional certificates programmes are organized by modules (from 30 to 430 hours), which can be individually assessed and certified (accumulated) to obtain the corresponding certification.

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Professional certificate programmes are accessible to learners over 16

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

The Spanish VET system is governed by the education and employment ministries. Professional certificates are under the authority of the employment ministry. They are regulated by Royal Decree 34/2008. MEYSS (2008).

Is it initial VET?

N

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Professional certificates programmes are free of charge for certain groups, within active labour market policies

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • School based learning (face to face learning) including work-based learning at workshops, labs, simulations, etc.;
  • through virtual learning environments (e-learning platforms, complemented with face to face learning) The regulation specifies which CdP programmes can be delivered online, how many hours have to be face to face, and the requirements for the accreditation of e-learning platforms and tutors, as well as the evaluation and assessment procedures to ensure that e-learning training programmes meet the quality criteria set for traditional school-based VET programmes.
  • apprenticeships: the purpose of the apprenticeship contract (contrato para la formación y el aprendizaje) is the professional qualification of the workers, in a regime of alternating paid work activity in a company, with training activity.
Main providers
  • public training centres (including integrated training centres and national reference centres–CRN);
  • private training centres;
  • foundations and intermediate structures created by social partners and NGO.

All types of providers offering programmes leading to professional certificates (CdPs) ([162]Certificados de Profesionalidad.) must by accredited by the state public employment service (SEPE) or by the regional labour authorities. CdP training centres are listed in an online search engine tool run by SEPE ([163]https://sede.sepe.gob.es/especialidadesformativas/RXBuscadorEFRED/InicioBusquedaTipoCentro.do).

Professional certificate programme providers must comply with specific requirements on the recruitment, qualifications and professional experience of trainers; on facilities and technological equipment; and on entry criteria for trainees. These requirements are set by the labour authorities.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Varies

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training in the training centre;
  • compulsory on-the-job training module (módulo de formación práctica en centros de trabajo);
  • training and apprenticeship contracts.

The learning outcomes of the on-the-job module must be assessed at the workplace.

The duration of the on-the-job training module depends on the profile and occupations included in the curriculum of each diploma, ranging from 5% to 52% of the total workload of the training programme.

Main target groups
  • young people over 16;
  • adults.

Most training programmes included in the different subsidised initiatives for unemployed workers are directly linked to obtaining a full or partial professional certificate (certificado de profesionalidad - CdP). The aim is to support skills development and employability.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Learners must have completed compulsory education (ESO), or equivalent level studies ([164]Cedefop (2019). Spotlight on VET – 2018 compilation: vocational education and training systems in Europe. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/publications/4168
).

Assessment of learning outcomes
  • to obtain a professional certificate, learners must successfully complete all the training modules (competence units-USs) of that certificate;
  • in addition to this training pathway, all or several of the competence units included in each certificate can be assessed and certified (accumulated) by taking part in one of the national or regional calls for validation and accreditation of non-formal learning;
  • the learning outcomes to be assessed in each module are related to knowledge as well as practical skills and abilities set in the assessment criteria of each module;
  • the accredited centres delivering CdP programmes have to submit a training project including the didactic planning and assessment of each training module making up the certificate.

Professional certificates are developed and updated by the state public employment service (SEPE), with the cooperation of the national reference centres; they are issued by the employment authorities (published in the official gazette).

Professional certificates have a double effect: they set out training programmes and award a vocational qualification.

The regulation specifies which CdP programmes can be delivered online, how many hours have to be face to face, and the requirements for the accreditation of e-learning platforms and tutors, as well as the evaluation and assessment procedures to ensure that e learning training programmes meet the quality criteria set for traditional school-based VET programmes ([165]Education authority VET programmes curricula may include one or several occupational standards.).

Diplomas/certificates provided

Professional certificates (CdPs) are based on occupational standards listed in the national catalogue of professional qualifications (CNCP) ([166]https://incual.mecd.es/documents/35348/0/folleto_incual_2015_ingles.pdf/3763b486-bc7e-4c3c-8382-a3842e4a6e19) and they are modular in nature ([167]The smallest unit that can be certified is the competence unit (unidad de competencia - UC).). Each professional certificate corresponds to a single occupational standard ([168]In some exceptional cases, an occupational standard has given rise to two CdP programmes.).

Competences units (being the minimum unit to be certified) could be accumulated towards a professional certificate. The modular structure of professional certificates serves a double purpose: tailoring training programmes to a specific job profile, and be used as a guide for the assessment of skills ([169]Links with formal education authority VET programmes: competences units acquired outside the school system may be recognised and exempted when enrolling in a formal VET programme, shortening its duration.).

These certificates are recognised by the education and labour authorities.

Examples of qualifications

CdP level 2 - Assistance to rail transport passengers (HOTT0112) / Hospitality and tourism sector branch ([170]https://www.sepe.es/SiteSepe/contenidos/personas/formacion/certificados_...).

Atención a pasajeros en transporte ferroviario/ Familia Profesional: hostelería y turismo.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Holders of a professional certificate (CdP) level 2 may

  • enter the labour market;
  • may move on to the next CdP level in limited professional fields;
  • accumulate partial ([171]CdPs are modular; the minimum unit that can be assessed and certified is the competence unit (partial certificate).) or full CdP certificates towards the acquisition of a VET diploma (through (through training or validation of prior learning).
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

Full or partial ([172]Professional certificates are modular in nature, composed of a set of modules (competence units - UCs), defined at national level. CdPs are listed in the national catalogue of qualifications (CNCP) structured by professional branches.) qualifications (professional certificates – CdPs) may be obtained through validation of non-formal and informal learning. The process is initiated by regional authorities through public calls for validation of non-formal and informal learning, depending on local or sectoral labour market needs.

The calls lay down which UCs are to be validated, vocational qualifications and sector branches involved, and they may also limit the maximum number of people to be assessed in each UC.

General education subjects

N

Key competences

N

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

VET programmes are based on learning outcomes with a strong focus on work-based learning, following ECVET guidelines

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

55.35% of all professional certificates issued in 2017.

 

Source: Data provided by SEPE at 06.7.2018.

 

Professional certificate

programmes – level 3

240-1 110 hours

WBL % vary

ISCED 453

Professional certificate programmes – level 3 certificado de profesionalidad (CdP) – nivel 3
EQF level
The Spanish education system is not referenced to EQF levels.
ISCED-P 2011 level

453

Usual entry grade

Not applicable

Usual completion grade

Not applicable

Usual entry age

Not applicable

Usual completion age

Not applicable

Length of a programme (years)

1 (up to)

Duration of professional certificates programmes level 3 range from 240 to 1 110 hours, according to the structure of competences and learning outcomes to be acquired without reference to a specific academic year.

Professional certificates programmes are organized by modules (from 30 to 360 hours), which can be individually assessed and certified (accumulated) to obtain the corresponding certification.

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Professional certificate programmes are accessible to learners over 16

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

The Spanish VET system is governed by the education and employment ministries. Professional certificates are under the authority of the employment ministry. They are regulated by Royal Decree 34/2008. MEYSS (2008).

Is it initial VET?

N

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Professional certificates programmes are free of charge for certain groups, within active labour market policies.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school based learning (face to face learning) including work-based learning at workshops, labs, simulations, etc;
  • through virtual learning environments (e-learning platforms, complemented with face to face learning) The regulation specifies which CdP programmes can be delivered online, how many hours have to be face to face, and the requirements for the accreditation of e-learning platforms and tutors, as well as the evaluation and assessment procedures to ensure that e-learning training programmes meet the quality criteria set for traditional school-based VET programmes.
  • apprenticeships: the purpose of the apprenticeship contract (contrato para la formación y el aprendizaje) is the professional qualification of the workers, in a regime of alternating paid work activity in a company, with training activity.
Main providers
  • public training centres (including integrated training centres and national reference centres–CRN);
  • private training centres;
  • foundations and intermediate structures created by social partners and NGOs.

All types of providers offering programmes leading to professional certificates (CdPs) ([174]Certificados de Profesionalidad.) must by accredited by the state public employment service (SEPE) or by the regional labour authorities. CdP training centres are listed in an online search engine tool run by SEPE ([175]https://sede.sepe.gob.es/especialidadesformativas/RXBuscadorEFRED/InicioBusquedaTipoCentro.do).

CdP programme providers must comply with specific requirements on the recruitment, qualifications and professional experience of trainers; on facilities and technological equipment; and on entry criteria for trainees. These requirements are set by the labour authorities.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Varies

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training in the training centre;
  • compulsory on-the-job training module (módulo de formación práctica en centros de trabajo);
  • training and apprenticeship contracts;

The learning outcomes of the on-the-job module must be assessed at the workplace.

The duration of the on-the-job training module depends on the profile and occupations included in the curriculum of each diploma, ranging from 5% to 52% of the total workload of the training programme.

Main target groups
  • young people over 16;
  • adults.

Most training programmes included in the different subsidised initiatives for unemployed workers are directly linked to obtaining a full or partial professional certificate (certificado de profesionalidad - CdP). The aim is to support skills development and employability.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Learners must have completed upper secondary education (Bachillerato), or equivalent level studies ([176]Cedefop (2019). Spotlight on VET – 2018 compilation: vocational education and training systems in Europe. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/publications/4168
).

Assessment of learning outcomes
  • to obtain a professional certificate, learners must successfully complete all the training modules (competence units-USs) of that certificate;
  • in addition to this training pathway, all or several of the competence units included in each certificate can be assessed and certified (accumulated) by taking part in one of the national or regional calls for validation and accreditation of non-formal learning;
  • the learning outcomes to be assessed in each module are related to knowledge as well as practical skills and abilities set in the assessment criteria of each module;
  • the accredited centres delivering CdP programmes have to submit a training project including the didactic planning and assessment of each training module making up the certificate.

Professional certificates are developed and updated by the state public employment service (SEPE), with the cooperation of the national reference centres; they are issued by the employment authorities (published in the official gazette).

Professional certificates have a double effect: they set out training programmes and award a vocational qualification.

The regulation specifies which professional certificate programmes can be delivered online, how many hours have to be face to face, and the requirements for the accreditation of e-learning platforms and tutors, as well as the evaluation and assessment procedures to ensure that e learning training programmes meet the quality criteria set for traditional school-based VET programmes ([177]Education authority VET programmes curricula may include one or several occupational standards.).

Diplomas/certificates provided

Professional certificates (CdPs) are based on occupational standards listed in the national catalogue of professional qualifications (CNCP) ([178]https://incual.mecd.es/documents/35348/0/folleto_incual_2015_ingles.pdf/3763b486-bc7e-4c3c-8382-a3842e4a6e19) and they are modular in nature ([179]The smallest unit that can be certified is the competence unit (unidad de competencia - UC).). Each professional certificate corresponds to a single occupational standard ([180]In some exceptional cases, an occupational standard has given rise to two CdP programmes.).

Competences units (being the minimum unit to be certified) could be accumulated towards a professional certificate. The modular structure of professional certificates serves a double purpose: tailoring training programmes to a specific job profile, and be used as a guide for the assessment of skills ([181]Links with formal education authority VET programmes: competences units acquired outside the school system may be recognised and exempted when enrolling in a formal VET programme, shortening its duration.).

These certificates are recognised by the education and labour authorities.

Examples of qualifications

CdP level 3 – Process management in restaurant and catering services (HOTR0409) / Hospitality and tourism sector branch ([182]https://www.sepe.es/SiteSepe/contenidos/personas/formacion/certificados_de_profesionalidad/pdf/europass/N3_HOTR0409_in_pub.pdf)

Gestión de procesos de servicio en restauración / Familia Profesional: hostelería y turismo

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Holders of a professional certificate (CdP) level 3 may

  • enter the labour market;
  • accumulate (partial) ([183]CdPs are modular; the minimum unit that can be assessed and certified is the competence unit (partial certificate).) or full CdP certificates towards the acquisition of a VET diploma (through training or validation of prior learning).
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

Full or partial ([184]Professional certificates are modular in nature, composed of a set of modules (competence units - UCs), defined at national level. CdPs are listed in the national catalogue of qualifications (CNCP) structured by professional branches.) qualifications (professional certificates – CdPs) may be obtained through validation of non-formal and informal learning. The process is initiated by regional authorities through public calls for validation of non-formal and informal learning, depending on local or sectoral labour market needs.

The calls lay down which UCs are to be validated, vocational qualifications and sector branches involved, and they may also limit the maximum number of people to be assessed in each UC.

General education subjects

N

Key competences

N

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

VET programmes are based on learning outcomes with a strong focus on work-based learning, following ECVET guidelines

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

22.01% of all professional certificates issued in 2017

 

Source: Data provided by SEPE at 06.7.2018.