4. Skills in the Basque Country

In section 4.1, the skills of the Basque workforce will be analysed, with a particular attention to the polarisation of jobs and skills mismatch. The chapter will also turn to the Basque Country’s adult learning, social dialogue and Vocational Education and Training (VET) system in sections 4.2 and 4.3.

The Basque labour market has polarised between 2000 and 2017, a process by which the relative shares of low and high skill jobs grow, while those at the middle of the skill distribution decline. Compared to other regions in Spain, polarisation has been more moderated (Figure 4.1). In the 2000-2017 period, as a share of total employment, middle skill jobs have decreased by over 6 percentage points, while low skilled and high skilled have grown by 1.6 and 4.8 percentage points respectively. In Spain, middle skill jobs decreased their share of total employment by nearly 8 percentage points, while low and high skill jobs increased 3.2 and 5.7 percentage points respectively. In total jobs, the Basque Country gained over 60 000 high skill jobs and almost 29 000 low skill jobs, while it lost nearly 34 000 middle skill jobs.

OECD calculations suggest the Basque Country has not upskilled its jobs to the same degree as other regions in Spain. In Catalonia and Madrid, the share of high skill jobs grew by 6.9 and 10.4 percentage points respectively. The shares of middle skill jobs in Catalonia and Madrid, meanwhile, declined by 9.6 and 11.1 percentage points respectively. This trend suggests the Basque Country has retained a greater share of middle skill occupations than other large economic regions in Spain, while creating a more moderate share of high skill jobs. Evidence from Chapter 1 suggests the Basque Country has struggled to generate high skill occupations associated with the service sector. The region’s Smart Specialisation Strategy (RIS3), planning investments in fields such as biotechnology and energy, may help diversify the region’s employment base to mitigate this challenge.

Middle skill job loss may have accelerated in the Basque Country after 2008, before recovering. Indeed, OECD calculations complement research on the Spanish labour market before the crisis. Between 1995 – 2007 and 1990 – 2008, research has found general upskilling in Spain, including a growth in middle-skilled occupations (Fernández-Macías, 2012[1]) (Oesch and Rodríguez Menés, 2011[2]). This may indicate the 2008 and 2010 crises concurred with middle skill job loss in the Basque Country. In particular, middle skill industrial occupations where amongst those that decreased the most in the prolonged economic downturn that followed the 2008 crisis. Meanwhile, low skill job creation across Spain may have come predominately from the service sector (Peugny, 2019[3]).

Different forces may be driving polarisation in the Basque Country. According to routine biased technological change, firms have increasingly introduced labour-saving technology that has displaced routine manual and cognitive tasks (Sebastian and Biagi, 2018[4]). These tasks are associated with middle skill occupations. Meanwhile, high skill occupations benefit, as their demand rises due to their complementarity with new technologies. This may be a relevant explanation in the Basque Country, particularly in industrial manufacturing. Indeed, between 2016 and 2017, industry in Spain increased shipments of multipurpose industrial robots by 12%, compared to 3%, 5% and 6% increases in the UK, Germany and France respectively (International Federation of Robotics (IFR), 2018[5]). Rises in educational attainment may also explain polarisation, supporting the gradual growth of high skill jobs (Oesch and Rodríguez Menés, 2011[2]). Research also suggests changes in wage-setting institutions influence polarisation trends, particularly by facilitating the creation of low-paid personal service jobs, a notable trend across Spain (Oesch and Rodríguez Menés, 2011[2]).

In 2018, the level of tertiary educational attainment continued to increase, reaching much higher levels than the OECD. The share of the adult population with tertiary education has increased from 32% in 2000 to nearly 50% of the population in 2018 (Figure 4.2). In 2018, a significantly larger share of the Basque Country’s adult population had tertiary education compared to the Spanish and the OECD average, 37.3% and 36.9%. Meanwhile, the share of the population with upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education, such as vocational training, has also increased from 16.6% in 2000 to 22.2% in 2018. Those with upper secondary and non-tertiary post-secondary education, however, constitute a smaller share of the adult population compared to the OECD average of 42.5%. The Basque Country’s highly education labour force corresponds to the progressive upskilling of the region’s jobs, and constitutes an advantage as the region seeks to diversify and upskill its job base. The lack of quality high skill jobs, including wages and career prospects, may be contributing to a high level of over-qualification in the region. Those with below upper secondary education, meanwhile, has decreased from 51.4% of the population in 2000 to 28.3% in 2018 in the Basque Country. These patterns followed trends in Spain and the OECD, as the proportion of those with tertiary education increased by 7.9%, 7.8% and 8.1% in the Basque Country, Spain and the OECD respectively between 2008 and 2018 (Figure 4.3).

The Basque workforce is ageing, creating an opportunity for new labour market entrants. Across developed economies, a falling birth rate, ageing and changing household compositions are putting pressure on social programmes and creating labour shortages (Pierson, 2001[6]). Spain’s population is estimated to fall by over 495 000 people between 2018 and 2030, or 1% of its population, and by approximately 3% in the Basque Country over the same period, or over 66 000 people (Orkestra, 2019[7]). The Basque Country’s labour force, meanwhile, is likely to shrink from 1.38 million working age people in 2016, or nearly 64% of the population, to 1.28 million in 2031, or nearly 59% of the population. These changes have put presses on the region’s dependency ratio, the ratio of dependents (people younger than 15 or older than 64) to the working-age population. Between 2008 and 2018, this ratio rose from 41.1% to 57.6%, significantly more than the increase from 45.6% to 51.9% in Spain, or 50.5% to 53.6% across the OECD (Figure 4.4).

Despite a highly education population, a large share of the workforce performs jobs under their skill level, driving over-qualification. Over-qualification is a situation where an individual’s highest qualification exceeds that required for the job. In the Basque Country, the OECD estimates that nearly 30.5% of those employed work in jobs that require lower qualifications than their educational attainment (Figure 4.5). Compared to other Spanish regions, the Basque Country recorded the second-highest over-qualification rate, with only Navarra recording a higher rate of 33.6%. The share of over-qualified workers is approximately 10% higher than large economic regions such as Catalonia or Madrid, where 20.8% and 18.6% are over-qualified, and 7 percentage points above the Spanish average of 22.9%. . Meanwhile, only 9.4% of those employed in the region work in jobs above their skill level, the second-lowest rate in Spain after Navarra, where 9.3% are under-qualified.

A better use of the region’s skills by firms could reduce over-qualification. The Basque Country has taken significant steps to better understand labour market needs, particularly through Lanbide, and has put in place industrial policies to diversify its economic base into innovation-intensive sectors. However, there is also increasing recognition that policy makers can look at the demand for skills by firms, including how skills are used and deployed in the workplace. At its core, skills use refers to the way that employers use the skills of employees in the workplace, and the alignment of the competences of workers to the demands and needs of the business.

One potential avenue for better skills use is promoting high-performance working practices (HPWPs) (OECD/ILO, 2017[8]). To introduce HPWP, companies can take a number of initiatives. For instance, companies can increase employee involvement in discussions of business strategy, which aims to more effectively use employees’ knowledge and experience. HPWP can also grant employees more freedom and autonomy to make decisions about how they perform their job, and facilitating skill acquisition at work. For instance, in northern Italy, the OECD and ILO have documented how local firms pooled investments and shared strategies to move up the product chain, creating a demand for more specific and higher skills within the firm (Box 4.1). Worker representatives were involved to include workers in decision-making. To encourage businesses to take these strategies, regional governments can set industry-wide standards, weigh in through agreements with social partners, support employers directly to change policies, leverage anchor institutions such as training centres, support the creation of a local brand or change legislation (OECD/ILO, 2017[9]).

Despite high levels of unemployment, some firms in the Basque Country declare difficulties hiring. In 2016, 48% of firms surveyed by the Basque employer federation, Confebask, reported difficulties hiring, a number that rose to 71% in 2018 (Figure 4.6). When asked, 56.2% and 52.8% of firms declared a lack of training or specialisation, or lack of experience, respectively as the driving reasons for hiring difficulties (Figure 4.7). These firm responses reflect the skills mismatch in the region. Given the high level of educational attainment in the region, the mismatch may indicate firms may not be taking full advantage of the high qualifications of graduates and workers in the region, while suggesting a greater use of dual education and apprenticeships could help meet employers’ needs for more experience. A government-run employer skills surveys could be an opportunity to refine and expand data on skills needs in the Basque Country, receiving input from a wide range of firms. The Basque Country could look to countries such as the United Kingdom, where the Department of Education carries out extensive surveys of the skills needs and skills use every two years, receiving data from over 87 000 firms in 2017 (Box 4.2).

Recruitment difficulties in the region, however, are not limited to specialisation and experience, but also include poor working conditions and low wages in some sectors and occupations. In particular, Basque companies may not be offering wages and working conditions that corresponds with the workforce’s high educational attainment, or may come short of paying adequate wages in lower skill jobs. Indeed, according to the Confebask survey, nearly one-fifth of firms declared the candidates evaluation of low wages as a reason for hiring difficulties (Figure 4.7). These responses also confirm responses from Basque branches of Spanish unions, Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) and the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGI), from fieldwork carried out for this study, who highlighted precarious work as a major challenge. In Spain, OECD calculations suggest the share of middle paid jobs has decreased by 7.1% while that of low paid jobs has increased by 4.6% between 2006 and 2016, greater than the 2.5% increase in high pay jobs (OECD, 2019[10]). Out of 31 OECD countries estimated over this period, Spain records the highest loss of middle pay jobs and the second-highest increase in the share of low pay jobs.

Social dialogue and adult learning can help ensure skills are best tailored to the region’s needs, while job quality is lifted

Social dialogue has been playing a renewed role in the Basque Country, while adult learning has progressed in the region. Both practices can play a role to ensure an inclusive future of work, particularly by lifting job quality and tailoring skills development to regional needs. This section will give an overview of both practices, and present international examples relevant for expansion in the Basque Country.

In 2019, the Basque Country re-launched social dialogue through its Mesa de Diálogo Social, the region’s social dialogue roundtable. Decentralisation has allowed the development of significant social dialogue at the level of Spanish regions. The roundtable is made up two unions, the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT) and the Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), as well as Confebask and the Basque government. Eusko Langileen Alkartasuna-Solidaridad de los Trabajadores Vascos (ELA) and Langile Abertzaleen Batzordeak (LAB), the largest unions in the Basque Country, do not participate in this initiative. Through the roundtable, social partners help design public policies through thematic work sessions with the government. The work of the roundtable is meant to complement sectoral and enterprise-level collective bargaining.

In 2019, the Mesa de Diálogo Social reached multiple agreements in the areas of equality, employment, training, workplace health and industry. In the field of training, the roundtable agreed that lifelong learning needs to be promoted across sectors and levels, while reinforcing the Basque Country’s system of skills recognition (Mesa de Diálogo Social, 2019[11]). In the field of education, meanwhile, the roundtable agreed that the system needs to take into account both student preferences as well as professional opportunities, educational institutions lack resources to fully understand professional paths, students are not fully aware of Vocational Education and Training (VET) opportunities and gender bias persists.

The roundtable’s developing pact on the future of work in industry is a particularly innovative approach. The Pacto Social Vasco para una Transición justa a la Industria 4.0 aims to anticipate the changes entailed by this 4.0 industrial transition, with collaboration and consensus as key ways to agree on mechanisms to accompany workers through the transition (Mesa de Diálogo Social, 2019[11]). Through this pact, employer and worker representatives have been able to express their priorities, with particular attention on anticipating the new skills that will needed from the workforce.

The plan foresees tailored action plans around worker skills, to ensure workers are reskilled without losing their jobs. The Basque government will play a key role in this transition by putting in place specialisation programmes to train workers to respond to the skills needs identified by employers, while Lanbide will take the role of finding employment for those who face redundancies. The government’s social affairs department, meanwhile, will support worker incomes through this transition. This pact is a promising example of how social dialogue can anticipate changes in sectors most at risk of automation. To ensure its effectiveness, the Basque government can also assist employers to precisely identify upcoming skills needs, for instance through an employer survey or by supplementing employer analyses with Lanbide’s data on the labour market. Moreover, the pact could be a model for agreements on other challenges, such as over-qualification.

Labour market observatories can form the basis of new tools to meet the future of work. In particular, the roundtable has agreed to create an Observatorio Vasco de Cultura Preventiva en la Pequeña y Mediana Empresa, or a Basque observatory for risk prevention in SMEs; to gather information on health and occupational safety in the region, formulate a diagnostic report, write specific action plans for sectors or occupations most at risk and for action items to be carried out and monitored by the roundtable (Mesa de Diálogo Social, 2019[11]). Similarly, the roundtable envisages the creation of skill observatory, to evaluate skills needs and to define and formulate job profiles. The roundtable also suggests the creation of a public sector employment observatory to analyse employment evolutions in public administration. These tools could serve as useful ways to carry out fieldwork among employers and workers on the evolving nature of tasks, merging this information with quantitative data available from Lanbide. Across the OECD, social partners are taking similar steps to prepare for the future of work and ensure workers are accompanied through reskilling. In Sweden, for instance, social partners created Job Security Councils, centres that are funded by employer contributions to provide services and guidance to workers who are laid off (Box 4.3). Such councils correspond to the region’s tradition of social dialogue, and could constitute a concrete step to ensure those workers who face redundancy due to automation are supported.

Significant progress have been made to build adult training institutions in the Basque Country. Already in 2003, in a key white paper, the Basque Government recognised the need to build stronger adult education institutions, along with a culture of lifelong learning, to face labour market evolutions (Gobierno Vasco, 2003[14]). Data from the OECD’s PIACC survey suggests 45.5% of adults between 25 and 64 years old participate in adult learning in the region, slightly below both Spanish and OECD averages (Figure 4.8). In Spain, 46.4% of the same group participate in adult learning, while 49.1% participate on average in OECD countries. Meanwhile, in Spanish regions such as Catalonia and Madrid, 55% and 48.2% of adults respectively participated in adult learning, higher than the share in the Basque Country. Given the region’s high degree of skills mismatch, deepening adult learning could be a key strategy to help employers invest and adjust worker skills as they progress in a company and market demand evolves. Regions across the OECD have started such efforts by raising awareness among companies about the benefits of strong workplace innovation strategies, of which adult learning can be a pillar. In Scotland, the government has engaged with the Scottish employer federation to host workshops with academics and practitioners about the benefits and concrete practices to better engage employees (Box 4.4).

Lifelong learning can be key for workers to adopt the skills required by employers in the Basque Country. According to an OECD survey, over 25% of survey respondent in the Basque Country indicated workplace responsibilities as the principle barriers to participating in adult learning (Figure 4.9). The high proportion of workers who listed this reason suggests workplace organisation can be an opportunity to increase lifelong learning rates in the region. (Eurofound, 2012[15])In the same survey, 22% of those who responded listed childcare or family responsibilities as leading reasons for not participating in adult learning, while 10.1% listed unexpected events and 8.2% declared the cost as too high. In the same survey, 10.11% listed unexpected events and 8.2% declared the cost as too high. Given the region’s experience with inter-firm cooperation, a pertinent international example to reinforce adult learning among companies in the Basque Country can be found in Ireland, where the government has funded learning networks, or groups of companies within the same industry sector or region with similar training needs (Box 4.5).

As in other OECD countries, SMEs struggle to provide the same levels of training as large companies in the Basque Country. Indeed, under 21% of SME employees receive training in the Basque Country, while over 39% of workers in larger firms can benefit from training (Figure 4.10). Large Basque companies may not provide the same level of training as in other parts of Spain, as nearly 56% of employees in large companies in Spain receive training, compared to only around 39% in the Basque Country. Moreover, OECD research has found risk-prevention is also the most common type of training provided by Spanish companies, meaning many firms may be missing the opportunity to provide work-related training (OECD, 2017[16]).

Lanbide, partnering with the Education Department and private centres, supports a host of adult training programmes for those struggling most on the labour market. In 2011, the Basque government acquired the responsibility for delivering active labour market policies in the region. In 2017, 1 400 public Vocational Education and Training for Employment (VETE) activities were made available for unemployed people, while over 2 900 were accomplished for those employed (Figure 4.11). Activities are provided for both the unemployed and employed, reaching a coverage rate of 16% for the former, compared to only 3% for the latter. Such programmes can be funded through training quotas given to firms. Some countries, have put in place individual training accounts, which support individuals directly to partake in training programmes (Box 4.6). As of 2020, through Cuentas de Formación, Lanbide has developed a base for this policy by creating individual accounts where individuals can register their education, skills and career path in a single online portable. This innovation could be taken further by allotting training funds to job seekers.

Activities targeted at the unemployed with low skills have taken an increasing share of Lanbide’s efforts, though the COVID-19 crisis is likely to create a more diverse of participants. Lanbide has supported 20 000 unemployed to train in private training centres, while 3 000 participants were trained in public centres, in conjunction with the Department of Education. Lanbide has also created programmes aimed at those most excluded from the labour market, such as the Proyectos Singulares programme, which put in place over 100 projects dedicated to people with few qualifications and learning difficulties to obtain professional certificates linked to jobs. Lanbide has also created the Hezibi programme, a dual VET programme, which links apprenticeships directly with job intake in a company. Training for the low-skilled workers tends to concentrate on acquiring certifications or accreditation in order to enter the labour market. To this end, adult learning in the Basque Country may also benefit from more policies that encourage recognition of experience or qualifications obtained informally, helping individuals into training that builds on their skills (Eurofound, 2009[17]).

In this sector, the Basque Country’s VET system will be presented, highlighting its role as an anchor institution for skills matching. To do so, international examples will be presented from countries that emphasise different elements of training and education (Cedefop, 2017[18]).

The Basque Country has many prerogatives in Vocational Education and Training (VET), which has allowed VET to develop a central role in the Basque Country. In 1997, a major reform established an integrated training plan that mirrored occupations and monitored the quality of trainings. It also created a network of providers headed by the Basque Institute for Vocational Guidance, the first institute of its kind in Spain. In 2004, the government reformed vocational education to better respond to labour market needs. Between 2011 and 2013, the newly created Basque public employment service, Lanbide, also started taking up an active role in vocational education. Lanbide has been offering training measures, targeted at retraining for those with lower skills. In 2016, governing parties agreed to a volley of changes in VET, including closer ties with firm, a greater emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship, new types of training, part-time education and more specialised programmes to meet company needs (Gobierno Vasco, 2019[19]). In 2018, the Basque Country passed Law 4/2018 on Vocational Training in the Basque Country, creating the Órgano Superior de Coordinación de la Formación Profesional, a structure that implements the contents of the Training Plan and coordinates among other departments.

The region’s fifth Basque Vocational Training Plan is synchronised with the region’s employment, education and industrial strategies. The new plan emphasizes the 4.0 context by introducing a greater number of innovative tools, such as smart systems, while facilitating more teaching flexibility. The plan foresees the creation of a Basque Institute for Future Apprenticeships, which will observe job market trends and define professional profiles. The plan also emphasizes a greater number of partnerships and exchanges internationally, and a particular collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Fishing and Food Policy in order to reflect the region’s push in the circular economy, bio-economy, sustainable construction and bio science. The Vocational Training Department, the Basque Vocational Training Board, Tknika, the Basque Institute of Future Apprenticeships, the Basque Institute of Talent in Vocational Training and vocational training centres will carry out different elements of the plan, often in collaboration.

VET has been developed for different skill levels in the region, tailoring training to candidates’ prior educational attainment. VET comprises all skills levels to achieve qualification for 170 occupations classified in professional groupings (familias profesionales), such as health services or textile industry. The Basque government divides VET into in-school modules, practice modules in training institutes as and short on-the-job parts in real companies. In turn, these modules corresponds to different skill levels. Basic skills level training qualifies young people for helping positions and can be continued with further studies. This basic level is mainly intended for young people between 15 and 17 years of age with compulsory secondary education, and requires the agreement of their parents. The medium skills level builds on the basic one and can be taken by young people above 25 years of age with competitive school and/or basic level training results. The high skills level (técnico superior), meanwhile, is meant for students who have passed the medium level or have graduated from a high school or university. It is meant to help students obtain qualification for practicing higher qualified technical work or to enter university studies. Both medium and high-skills level trainings are subject to entry quotas and selections procedures depending on the number of applicants (Inspección General de Educación, 2018[20]).

Training institute teachers drafted training curricula jointly with training mentors in the companies based on the skills needs and the prior knowledge of applicants. The training institute takes on the overall responsibility for the training content and implementation of the curricula. The employer selects the applicants that are pre-selected and proposed by the institute and signs a dual education contract with the applicant (Gobierno Vasco, 2019[21])

VET enrolment has grown as VET institutions have gained a more prominent role in the Basque Country. Between 2011 and 2019, enrolment in VET increased from approximately 34 000 to almost 40 000 people (Figure 4.12). Women still partake less in VET compared to men, having only increased enrolment slightly from approximately 13 000 to 14 000 people. Students have also chosen different sectors for training since 2011. Mechanical work still leads enrolment with over 6 200 students, or 15% of total programme enrolment, reflecting the region’s industrial base (Figure 4.13). Some programmes have come to draw more enrolment over time, such as information and communication as well as socio-cultural and community services, which have risen respectively from 5.7% to 8% and 4.5% to 8% of total enrolment. Nonetheless these programmes remain heavily divided by gender, with a large majority of males enrolled in information and communications and females in socio-cultural and community services.

Reforms in professional education have recently unfolded across OECD countries. In France, apprenticeship programmes are being expanded to all skills levels, including tertiary education, while Finland is taking a lifelong approach to VET, including for adults to participate after years of work experience (Box 4.7). The Basque Country could learn from the experiences of OECD countries to expand its successful VET youth programmes to older age cohorts and higher skill levels.

The quality of vocational training in the Basque Country is valued by employers and worker representatives. According to Confebask and CCOO, communication with companies helps design trainings that respond to actual skills demands of the Basque Country (Confebask, 2018[22]). In a recent evaluation of the Basque Employment Plan 2020 commissioned by the Basque Government, increasing dialogue with the firms has been regarded as positive, especially components involving on-the-job training along with classroom teaching. The growing international aspect of trainings, for example through links with the Erasmus+ programme, are also helping extended valuable international experiences to vocational education students (Gobierno Vasco, 2018[23]).

Automation, however, will significantly change many of the middle skill jobs for which the Basque VET system prepares students, requiring VET to adapt and employers to adjust on-work training. The Basque Country has prepared for these changes through multiple efforts. For instance, since its creation in 2004, the Tknika Centre for Applied Innovation in Vocational Training has played the unique role of connecting innovation in companies to training centres (Box 4.8). The Agenda Digital de Euskadi 2020, meanwhile, constitutes a wide set of initiatives to accompany the digitalisation of Basque companies. The plan also includes specific initiatives to assist Basque SMEs, particularly those associated with the region’s core manufacturing industry, in integrating digital technologies.

OECD countries are also introducing digitalisation strategies at the local level, providing insights for the Basque Country. In Germany, for example, Aus und Weiterbildung 4.0 (Vocational education and training 4.0) in the region of Ostbrandenburg, close to Berlin, is run by the German public employment service (Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung, 2019[24]). The initiative supports small and medium sized enterprises to adapt their training programmes to the digital requirements of the new world of work. The project informs companies on how new technological developments of their sectors can be integrated into their vocational and dual education schemes. It consults companies on individual bases and pilots solutions such as digital applications in training situations and on-the-job training. The initiative also addresses the necessary skills development for trainers and advisors of the employment services who help clients find an apprenticeship. The national development programme that roofs initiatives such as this is funded by the Ministry for Education and Research, with 48 million EUR from the national budget and a co-financing by the European Social Fund of 60 million Euro.

Interest in dual education is growing among students and employers in the Basque Country. Dual education is a set of hybrid training-employment initiatives, most common in Vocational Education and Training (VET), that equip students with demanded skills by companies in real work environments. In the Basque Country, 1 913 apprentices took part in the 2017-2018 cycle, as did 1 122 companies, while 96% of trainees entered employment after graduation. In a recent survey, graduate, employers and training institutions tended to evaluate dual education positively, with market above eight out of ten. (Gobierno Vasco, 2018[23]). The classroom component of dual education allows students to improve their qualifications, while the practical component opens access to employment from a direct contact with companies. Companies who take on apprentices in the dual scheme are also more likely to keep them upon graduation and offer them a longer employment contract. Germany’s dual education system, for example, benefits from a regular uptake rate of apprentices of over 95% (Seibert, 2017[25]). In Slovenia, the country helps students develop individualised apprenticeship plans, a helpful policy to help ensure students are supported through their apprenticeship (Box 4.9).

Dual education privileges time in the workplace in the Basque Country. Two-year programmes enrich the skills students have acquired in vocational education by offering between 800 and 1 200 hours in companies, while the three-year programme adds over 3 000 hours of working in the company, and approximately 1 500 hours in the classroom. During the first year of the dual education the time spent in the company cannot exceed 75% of the overall training time, while in the second year, it has to be less than 85%. In the region, the Dual to World programmes adds one year to the three-year programme, placing apprentices abroad, usually in an international branch or representation of the company in which have been training. Subsidies are also available for dual education, for example for students with disabilities.

Dual education is expanding across sectors and education levels. In the Basque Country, dual VET is available in 20 professional sectors, in which approximately 1 200 students participate each year. Dual training at universities is starting as well, with trials in some degrees such as Engineering in Process and Product Innovation opening 50 spaces in the 2015-2016 school year. Dual VET is currently offered in 97 training centres in the Basque Country. Almost 90% of the more than 41 000 enrolled students in 2019 are being trained in middle or high level skills. More than half of the students qualify for occupations in the service sector, while 45% enter industry.

Instructors, employers and students can all be informed about dual education possibilities in the region to ensure they have equitable access to this policy. In particular, policymakers are considering widening the opportunities and making it easier for small and medium sized enterprises to participate in apprenticeship schemes and find ways to have less- skilled people enter dual education programmes. At the same time, teachers need to be provided with the necessary skills to take advantage of the scheme. Dual education can continue to be expanded to universities, including by considering apprenticeship contracts in masters degrees. Systematic evaluation of the paths of dual education graduates may also help adjust curricula and programming.

Educational attainment in the Basque Country has risen significantly in the last 20 years, though the evolution of Basque jobs has not mirrored this trend, as 30% of workers in the region are working in jobs below their qualification level. Evidence suggests skills mismatch and low job quality may be main drivers of over-qualification, including the under-utilisation of skills, wages and contract stability. As part of strong workforce strategies, adult learning and social dialogue has progressed in the region, constituting opportunities for the region. As Vocational Education and Training (VET) has grown in the Basque Country, the region could use dual VET apprenticeships as a way to tighten links between the skill needs of employers and those of the workforce, particularly as technology reshapes many middle skill job.


[24] Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (2019), Ausbildung im digitalen Wandel Strategien für kleine und mittlere Unternehmen.

[18] Cedefop (2017), The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe Volume 2: results of a survey among European VET experts, https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/5564_en.pdf.

[22] Confebask (2018), Manual de instructores. Formación professional dual en régimen de alternancia, http://formacion.confebask.es/Corporativa/Default.aspx?Xqp5O3l6Vf29NpLMKp62346789bTaQ90785678d90785678d.

[12] Eurofound (2020), Job security councils, https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/emcc/erm/support-instrument/job-security-councils.

[15] Eurofound (2012), Work organisation and innovation, https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/sites/default/files/ef_publication/field_ef_document/ef1272en.pdf.

[17] Eurofound (2009), Low-qualified workers in Europe, https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/sites/default/files/ef_files/docs/ewco/tn0810036s/tn0810036s.pdf.

[1] Fernández-Macías, E. (2012), “Job Polarization in Europe? Changes in the Employment Structure and Job Quality, 1995-2007”, Work and Occupations, Vol. 39/2, pp. 157-182, https://doi.org/10.1177/0730888411427078.

[19] Gobierno Vasco (2019), V Plan Vasco de Formación Profesional 2019-2021, https://www.euskadi.eus/contenidos/informacion/fpgeneral/es_def/adjuntos/V-PLAN-FP-CASazk.pdf.

[21] Gobierno Vasco (2019), V Plan Vasco de Formación Profesional 2019–2021: La Formación Profesional en el entorno de la 4ª Revolución Industrial, http://www.euskadi.eus/contenidos/informacion/fpgeneral/es_def/adjuntos/V-PLAN-FP-CASazk.pdf.

[23] Gobierno Vasco (2018), Evaluación de la puesta en marcha y primera fase de implementación de la Estrategia Vasca de Empleo 2020.

[14] Gobierno Vasco (2003), The Basque Country: a learning region, https://www.euskadi.eus/contenidos/informacion/dia6/en_2027/adjuntos/publications_in_english/libro_blanco_en.pdf.

[20] Inspección General de Educación (2018), Formación profesional: Exenciones, convalidaciones, equivalencias y homologaciones, https://www.euskadi.eus/contenidos/informacion/legelabur/es_def/adjuntos/Convalidaciones.Septiembre%202018_def.pdf.

[5] International Federation of Robotics (IFR) (2018), Executive Summary World Robotics 2018 Industrial Robots, https://ifr.org/downloads/press2018/Executive_Summary_WR_2018_Industrial_Robots.pdf.

[11] Mesa de Diálogo Social (2019), Informe de seguimiento y evaluación de la actividad de la mesa de dialogo social durante el año 2019.

[10] OECD (2019), Employment Oulook 2019: The Future of Work, https://doi.org/10.1787/9ee00155-en.

[13] OECD (2018), Employment Outlook 2018, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/empl_outlook-2018-e.

[16] OECD (2017), Getting Skills Right: Spain, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264282346-en.

[26] OECD (2015), In It Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264235120-en.

[8] OECD/ILO (2017), Better Use of Skills in the Workplace: Why It Matters for Productivity and Local Jobs, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264281394-en.

[9] OECD/ILO (2017), Better Use of Skills in the Workplace: Why It Matters for Productivity and Local Jobs, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264281394-en.

[2] Oesch, D. and J. Rodríguez Menés (2011), “Upgrading or polarization? Occupational change in Britain, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, 1990 – 2008”, Socio-Economic Review, Vol. 9, pp. 503–531, http://dx.doi.org/0.1093/ser/mwq029.

[7] Orkestra (2019), El futuro del empleo en la CAPV.

[3] Peugny, C. (2019), “The decline in middle-skilled employment in 12 European countries: New evidence for job polarisation”, Research and Politics, Vol. January-March, pp. 1-7, http://dx.doi.org/0.1177/2053168018823131.

[6] Pierson, P. (2001), Post-Industrial Pressures on the Mature Welfare States, Oxford University Press.

[4] Sebastian, R. and F. Biagi (2018), The Routine Biased Technical Change hypothesis: a critical review, European Commission, Luxembourg, http://dx.doi.org/.

[25] Seibert, H. (2017), Meist gelingt ein nahtloser Übergang.

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2020

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at http://www.oecd.org/termsandconditions.