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EXPLAINED: The planned changes to vocational training in Spain

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EXPLAINED: The planned changes to vocational training in Spain
Flexibility is key to the proposed changes, with workable solutions sought to entice older people already in the workforce back into 'permanent continuous training'.(Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP)

The Spanish Ministry of Education is preparing a shakeup of its vocational training courses (formación profesional) aimed at increasing the range of courses, enticing older people back into education and having more classes in English.


The Spanish Ministry of Education and Vocational Training is presenting proposals this week for an overhaul to its vocational training programmes, known as formación profesional (FP) in Spanish.

FP courses are non-academic vocational courses that allow Spaniards to continue studying after high school, go back to school after many years, or even study alongside their careers. 

There's a seemingly limitless variety of courses on offer, with everything from short 50 or 60 hour courses on Artisan Baking to highly specialised courses Audio Description and Subtitling courses taught over several hundred hours.


Formación Profesional is available to registered foreigners in Spain, but depending on the qualification they want to obtain, they may have to first have the prior foreign qualifications recognised.

In Spain, vocational training attracts just 12 percent of young students compared to a European-wide average of 25 percent.

In 2022, the Spanish government changed the country's laws to make it easier for non-EU foreigners to be hired in Spain for a variety of positions - including hospitality and trade jobs - as a result of the labour shortages the country has been suffering.

In a bid to boost the popularity of vocational training in Spain and improve the overall system, changes are on the way to how FP courses work.

Among the proposed changes are an increased focus on English and the creation of more flexible study pathways to keep students on the vocational training pathway, among many other things.


Here are some of the key changes in the draft bill:

Increased flexibility 

Flexibility is key to the proposed changes, with workable solutions sought to entice older people already in the workforce back into 'permanent continuous training'. Study schedules will be tailored accordingly to fit the needs of FP students, with all classes being on the same day of the week if necessary, for example.

More English

For the first time, FP rules establish that all intermediate and higher vocational training students must study what the draft calls 'technical' English. In addition, there will be 78 different multilingual qualifications, meaning they are taught in English even in non-linguistic subjects such as technology or PE.

READ ALSO: Spaniards have second lowest level of English in EU

The draft also aims for each school or educational centre to have an 'internationalisation coordinator', the aim being to boost participation in more international exchange programmes.

Double degrees

The basic, intermediate and higher cycles of FP courses can now include the curriculum from another country. These will be known as "double international vocational training qualifications," in the style of the Bachibac (the Spanish-French baccalaureate).

Integrated studies 

FP students could now have the option to integrate different pathways, similarly to double university degrees and even between different levels of study. There is one integrated study pathway for students at risk of exclusion, for example, who will be offered personalised itineraries of basic and mid-grade vocational training cycles to be taken over four years in the hope of avoiding school drop outs and boosting employment prospects.

Expert teachers 

Though the draft doesn't deal with the issue of what will happen to FP teachers who not have university degrees, it does creating a new teaching role: that of the qualified or 'expert' teacher who can teach without a degree. They will be able to teach, although only when there are no official or interim teachers available, and can be hired on a full-time or part-time basis.


Similarly, retired teachers who wish to maintain a connection with their schools will be able to, if they wish, through the role of senior teaching expert, whose function will be to mentor new teachers and to support classroom learning. These retirees will not be able to be paid, however, nor will they be able to take up an official teaching role.


Credit transfers

A student person who completes a higher vocational training course can enter into university directly in Spain and have credits from a degree course recognised. This does not happen with all FP courses and the exact number of transferable credits varies, but it is common to have around 30 credits recognised in similar fields of study.

The reverse is not true, however: a university graduate who wants to do a higher vocational training course has to study it in its entirety and cannot transfer any credits from their universe studies.

This imbalance in credit recognition has long been criticised in Spain, and the draft bill seeks to rebalance it and make transferring credits between the two systems easier.

Elective modules 

The Spanish regions will also be given the powers to design in-depth modules according to their interests. These optional subjects can even be undertaken in conjunction with courses or training received at work in the case of FP students who work alongside their studies.

READ ALSO: Spain to grant residency to unauthorised foreigners who complete vocational training



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