Workshop- and craft-laboratories are apprenticeship programmes (Escuelas Taller, Talleres de Empleo y Casas de Oficios) for unemployed people combining learning in a real working environment with employment.
Workshop and craft programmes are part of national active labour market policies projects of general and social interest and can be carried out in all sectors of activity. They have a double aim: offer young unemployed people real job experience and training to acquire a nationally recognised vocational qualification (Certificados de Profesionalidad, CdP); and support local development.
Apprenticeship laboratory programmes are implemented by facilitating organisations (so-called promoters) selected through public calls for subsidies. In 2020 and 2021, the total funding allocated is EUR 16.8 million. Current participants range from non-profit organisations, part of the State public administrative bodies, to other regional and local bodies, consortia, associations, foundations or other non-profit organisations, depending on the call. In both types of programme, training costs, salaries of teaching staff and apprentice salary for the productive work are fully covered.
Workshops target young unemployed people aged 16 to 25. They last up to two years and are divided in two stages. In the first part, learners receive a grant and follow theoretical and practical vocational training in the host organisation.
In the second part, learners are hired with an apprenticeship contract and move to ‘laboratories’ (the term reflecting that training takes place in a sheltered context) which combine on-the-job learning with regular working hours in the professional activity pursued.
When the workshop addresses unemployed people over 25, the duration is one year with a job contract from the beginning.
Craft-laboratories are one-year programmes for job seekers 16 to 25. In the first six months learners follow vocational training and receive a grant; the second part combines training and work, with a job contract.
Learners generally qualify in competences, skills and activities related to basic building, maintenance and running of installations, and gardening and forest exploitation.
Alternative route to a first qualification
While most apprentices are still found in school-based VET, programmes include only short periods of workplace-based learning in companies. Also, the majority of Spanish companies are micro-enterprises (up to five workers) that are not able to engage in school-based apprenticeships.
The workshop and craft laboratory apprenticeship schemes are a success story of the national active labour market policies.
The special feature is that they engage different partners (non-profit organisations, local bodies, consortia) to deliver apprenticeships and provide targeted support for early school leavers to qualify and reach employment.
Its success lies in its impact on both local economies, with limited resources to engage in school-based VET programmes, and on the opportunities for individuals with low or no qualification to gain a vocational qualification and work experience. In 2019, 2669 apprentices were training by 88 non-profit organisations, part of the State public administrative bodies, in programmes funded by the Spanish Public Employment Service alone.