With the RD 1631/2006 it was established that the educational administrations have the responsibility to develop procedures for recognition of prior learning acquired through work experience or non-formal education, across the education spectrum, from secondary schools or VET schools to Universities. Validation is organised according to the Royal Decree 1224/2009 on the recognition of professional competences acquired through work experience, published in August 2009.
There is not a unique system of validation in Spain, but nevertheless there is a large number of procedures of validation with different objectives, effects and addressees.
VPL in Higher Education
The Royal Decree 1892/2008, concerning access to university studies, establishes the possibility of accessing university for those over 40 years old with accredited professional experience. They would have to pass a personal interview and a review of their work experience in line with the degree they aim to study.
The Royal Decree 861/2010 established the recognition of work experience in the form of university credits towards an official degree (undergraduate degree or master degree). In order to recognise work experience by credits, this experience must be related to the competences inherent to that degree and the number of credits that are subject to validation cannot exceed, as a whole, 15% of the total number of credits that constitute the curriculum (Royal Decree 861/2010).
The validation process is still a competence of the official government and regional authorities. There are some private authorised companies for accrediting some key competencies such as ICT (e.g. ACTIC3) or foreign languages (language academies accredit different levels according European Languages Framework) when these competences are useful to follow official degrees.
In 2009, Spain started to develop a validation procedure focused on vocational education and training. Since then more than 160 initiatives in several professional sectors have been developed by the Autonomous Communities. The responsibilities for validation are established by the rules set in the RD 1224/2009, and then by each regional authority, which may publish several orders to regulate their own processes. Only 9 of 17 regions have their own legislation/regulations.
Validation in the Labour Market
The Law 30/2015, for regulating the Vocational Training System for Employment in the labour field (Ley 30/2015), aims to promote the accreditation processes of professional competencies acquired through on-formal training or work experience, among others. Article 10 states that the administrators will promote sectoral and transversal courses to let workers complete their competence units in order to obtain both partial and accumulative accreditation. The recognition of experience is another way of obtaining a certificate if the candidate shows his or her competences were included in the Royal Decree 34/2008 on certificates of occupational standards and its modification by the Royal Decree 189/2013. Validation is mainly led by the public administration but trade unions and business organisations can promote official announcements (calls for application) for particular sector s to evaluate competencies acquired through experience in order to respond to needs within a sector.
Validation in the Third Sector
Volunteering is a major topic of interest for validation. In 2015, a study of validation of competences acquired though volunteering was published, entitled Reconoce. The project designed a model of validation using Scrum as a technique for identification of competencies and their recognition. In 2016, they agreed to promote this system in cooperation with the Spanish Youth Institute (Instituto de la Juventud de España, INJUVE), within the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality.
Other civil organisations, such as the Spanish Red Cross, Caritas, or NGOs for social development are organising initiatives to validate the transversal competencies of volunteers. As outlined in the Spanish Law of Volunteerism (Ley 45/2015), all organisations are responsible for providing accreditation for activities here young people and volunteers are involved.
The Europass CV tool is not highly used by companies. Due to the tradition of understanding the CV as a list of employment placements and tasks, individuals in Spain find it difficult to identify their own key competencies in terms of professional learning outcomes.
Funding of VPL
The national investment in validation is usually granted by the Government of Spain. In 2013, the Government approved EUR 5 605 000 to be distributed between the autonomous communities. This amount has at times been supplemented by regional administrations. Still, the funding available is insufficient to meet the huge demand from applicants.
Validation and Migrants/Refugees/ other Disadvantaged Groups
With regard to migrants, the validation process is still not well-known. The main sector where migrants are involved is the care sector. It is mainly female care workers taking care of elderly people at home who are interested in acquiring the recognition of their work experience. The last Spanish report (2016) shows data about this group of people. Looking at the 1187 migrants who asked for the validation of their experiences, only around 40% were involved in the evaluation phase. They are not accepted into the evaluation phase because of a lack of official papers of their academic level, or official job contracts (INCUAL, 2016).