Career guidance units A new guidance resource in Spain

Asunción Manzanares Moya, Director of the Vocational Guidance and Lifelong Learning Unit – Euroguidance Spain, Spanish Ministry of Education, Vocational Training and Sports.

In Europe, there is a pressing concern regarding the full implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, addressing skills shortages, enhancing competitiveness including economic and social resilience. The significance of vocational guidance in attaining the goals set forth by public education, training and employment policies can also not be overstated.

In 2023, as part of the measures outlined in the ‘Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan’ framework, the Spanish Ministry of Education and Vocational Training introduced new guidance resources called ‘Vocational Guidance Units (UOP)’. UOPs aim to facilitate access to vocational training and the accreditation of competencies.

These units compliment the guidance services provided by the Education System, the Vocational Training System and the National Employment System. Within their specific areas of management, they serve as structures tailored to students, workers, companies or individuals seeking employment services.

UOPs are overseen by local governments or non-profit organisations from the third sector. UOPs are ideally established in less densely populated areas, with a nearby Mentor Classroom offering non-formal training that can be recognised as qualifications within the Vocational Training System. The objective is to leverage the proximity and accessibility while ensuring personalised support for vulnerable groups. This allows for formal and non-formal learning pathways to be integrated aimed at enhancing qualifications through the development of training programs. This allows for accreditation of skills gained through work experience or non-formal training. 

The guidance model is distinguished by its community-oriented approach. The professionals who oversee the UOPs are employed by the organisations who are receiving subsidies from the Ministry and are typically university graduates (Psychology or Pedagogy) with postgraduate training in socio-labour insertion and human resources. They possess extensive professional experience in training-employment programs tailored to youth and unemployed individuals. This combination of qualifications and experience equips them to provide a service within the community and offer specialised guidance.

During the initial twelve months of operation, the 90 active UOPs have collaborated on initiatives geared towards local and regional business organisations. These efforts have focused on raising awareness about the significance of accrediting the skills possessed by their employees. Additionally, they have engaged with local development agencies to identify individuals who may be interested in obtaining skills accreditation.

Among the individual initiatives targeting individuals over 18 years old, a total of 19,290 people received assistance in pre-registration procedures for the accreditation process which includes Europass curriculum, compiling of evidence and self-assessments. Additionally, 11,710 individuals were referred to accreditation bodies for further processing. Half of the referred individuals are women over 35 years old. There is also a notable trend towards accrediting units of competence associated with Professional Families such as Sociocultural Services (specifically home help), Building and Civil Works, Agriculture, and Administration and Management.

This resource, managed by local governments and non-profit organisations, has demonstrated its effectiveness and the Ministry aims to further solidify this experience in 2024.

*More information (Spanish version): Mentor orienta | Aula Mentor