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.