The Spanish training system: a qualitative analysis

It has become a common practice in recent years for organisations to invest public funds in continuing training in various European and OECD member countries. Spain was one of the pioneering countries in this field, with the signing of the National Agreement on Continuing Training (Acuerdo Nacional de Formación Continua) in 1992, which guarantees public funding of continuing training programmes for workers, and with the founding of the Tripartite Foundation for Employment Training (Fundación Tripartita para la Formación en el Empleo), which implements and manages said agreement. Therefore, the Spanish system has over 20 years of experience. At a time like this, when continuing training is a necessary business strategy for organisations to address fast-paced economic changes, it is important to ensure that these programmes offer good results and are cost-effective. However, are public investments in continuing training actually effective? In other words, does the training really respond to the needs of the workers and companies, and does it provide tangible results in the workplace? This paper attempts to respond to these questions surrounding the various policies for the funding of continuing training. The GAPEF-GIPE research group has conducted a study in order to evaluate the entire public funding system for continuing training, covering all aspects from coverage , diffusion and access to training to the results, effectiveness, efficiency and impact of training on companies, as well as its relevance to the needs of organisations and its funding. A mixed methodology was used to this end, with the gathering of quantitative and qualitative data that permitted a comprehensive analysis of the public funding system for continuing training. The qualitative phase of the study is presented in this paper; its objective was to obtain the main actors’ view on the effectiveness of the training and the challenges to overcome before it could improve. The qualitative part of the study was conducted with a multi-instrumental approach, as the goal was to obtain the points of view of all the agents involved in the training. Different instruments were used: four discussion groups with trainers and training managers, 26 in-depth interviews with companies and participants, and a Delphi panel with a group of 20 experts. Data triangulation provided a more in-depth analysis of the public continuing training system and the challenges it poses. The results show that the main actors are satisfied and have learnt from the training they received, however the training has not had the expected impact on companies. To increase the effectiveness of training, the main challenges are to improve planning, to link it more closely to the workplace, and to ensure workers receive more support from their co-workers and superiors in order to transfer. The evaluation of the public continuing training system in Spain can provide relevant information for other similar systems, which could be used to make decisions in order to increase their effectiveness and guide the improvement of public continuing training policies in other countries.

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