Spanish regions will receive EUR 321 million from the education ministry to support basic vocational training programmes and flexible educational paths in compulsory secondary education. This will be part-financed by the European Social Fund.

Basic vocational training programmes (basic VET) were introduced in 2013 as an alternative vocational route to remaining in, or returning to, education and training. They are flexible programmes offering students aged 15 and 17 years a professional certificate attesting to their skills to perform certain jobs and other basic skills, and the possibility to move on to upper secondary VET or general programmes. Since implementation, Basic VET students have almost doubled, from 40 468 students in 2014/15 academic year to approximately 71 500 in 2017/18.

Choosing the right path

Besides Basic VET, the funds will be used to establish new pathways in the last two years of lower secondary education (*) to help students decide on their future learning paths. In the third year of lower secondary, students and their families can choose between maths oriented to general education programmes or to applied programmes. In the last (fourth) year of lower secondary, the choice is between an academic path, selecting subjects allowing progression to upper secondary general programmes (Bachillerato), or a vocational path, where the subjects prepare students for a VET career, also in upper secondary education.

Regional education authorities, and, where appropriate, training centres, can design pathways to guide students in selecting core areas of choice. Regardless of the option chosen by students, basic skills are also part of the curriculum. In both cases, the training itinerary allows progression to tertiary education; this may be either through general education, or, in the VET track, through higher level VET programmes, also to higher education academic studies.

These new funds, approved by the government in November 2017, will contribute to offering students new educational paths adapted to their abilities, interests and expectations. They should also increase their motivation, eradicate early school leaving, improve employability, and achieve their personal and professional development as citizens.

The allocation of the funds follows the distribution criteria agreed with the regions in the Sectoral education conference.

This financial support to regions is being delivered during the period of implementation of the new training itineraries, between 2014 and 2017, with shared financing by the European Social Fund. At the end of the period, the regions will be able to receive, as per the programmed financial path, up to EUR 774 million in total.