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Dual Apprenticeships in Spain – Catalonia: The Firms’ Perspective


This article analyzes the motives for firms providing apprenticeship training in Catalonia and the reasons why other firms do not provide such training. In light of the recent introduction of dual apprenticeships in the formal education system in Spain, a country with a traditionally school-based vocational education and training (VET) system, Catalonia constitutes a relevant case for analyzing firms’ training motives in newly established training systems. We analyzed the statements of about 800 Spanish companies in Catalonia who participated in the study. These included both companies that provide training and those that do not. The results show that companies perceive dual training more as an activity to ensure the supply of skilled workers in the future and less as a means to profit from the apprentices’ productivity. Large firms are especially able to better integrate initial training in their continuous training process and to make use of positive synergies. The reasons for the absence of training have more to do with a lack of knowledge about the dual apprenticeship program than with a fear of losing investments in human capital. The results of this article provide relevant contributions to the discussion about the implementation of dual apprenticeship systems in countries with a different framework of conditions as opposed to those countries with established dual apprenticeship systems. Moreover, they provide relevant insights for the development of policies to foster firms’ provision of dual apprenticeships.

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  1. 1.

    See for example Wiemann and Fuchs (2018) for companies’ engagement in dual VET in Mexico.

  2. 2.

    See for example Busemeyer & Trampusch (2011) for an analysis of the relationship between institutions and vocational training systems.

  3. 3.

    Data extracted on 03 Oct 2017 18:32 UTC (GMT) from OECD.Stat; dataset: Strictness of employment protection – individual and collective dismissals (regular contracts)

  4. 4.

    Data is extracted from Spanish Ministry for Labour, Migrations and Social Security:

  5. 5.

    Data extracted on 12 Oct 2017 10:54 UTC (GMT) from OECD.Stat (“Employment by job tenure intervals”)

  6. 6.

    For a general report on VET in Spain, see Sancha Gonzalo and Gutiérrez Dewar (2018).

  7. 7.

    See also:

  8. 8.

    Real Decreto 1529/2012, de 8 de noviembre, por el que se desarrolla el contrato para la formación y el aprendizaje y se establecen las bases de la formación profesional dual

  9. 9.

    Even though there is some compensation for some share of the costs, since training firms receive a discount from business contributions to social security. The amount of discount depends on size of the firm (Pin et al. 2014).

  10. 10.

    IPREM (Indicador Público de Renta de Efectos Múltiples) is a Spanish index used an s a reference to provide social benefits and grants. It is lower than the interprofessional minimum salary (SMI). ( Its current values can be seen at:

  11. 11.

  12. 12.

    For comparison, in Germany, apprentices receive about 26.8% of the wage of a trained employee and in Switzerland 17.9% (Ryan et al. 2011). Nonetheless, it is important to note that German apprentices work 70% and Catalan apprentices about 50%. Assuming that both worked 100% and adjusting the relative wage accordingly, the Spanish apprentice would receive 32% in case of a scholarship and 38% in case of contract, while the German apprentice would receive 40%.

  13. 13.

    Results not shown in the table, but are available upon request.

  14. 14.

    The percentage of scholarships differs from other administrative statistics: data from the Catalan Department of Education for the 2016–2017 academic year show that 91.84% of students were linked to the company with a scholarship and 8.16% of students had an apprenticeship contract with the company. There were several reasons for this difference. First, the difference was due to the fact that the data in this article is based on companies and not on apprentices. Because some companies have more than one apprentice, the results can vary considerably. Large companies use the scholarship much more often than small companies and at the same time large companies have more apprentices. Therefore, many apprentices are linked by scholarship, which is not represented in a company-based survey. Another important aspect to consider is that the sample also contains a high percentage of companies that no longer offer dual FP, but have done so in the past when the scholarship rate was lower. A third reason is that the responses to the present survey were voluntarily provided. More motivated firms tend to offer training contracts and may self-select into the survey.

  15. 15.

    Results are not shown here, but they are available upon request.


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This work was supported by a postdoc fellowship of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The Fundación Bertelsmann, Departament d’Ensenyament de la Generalitat de Catalunya, Consell de Cambres de Catalunya, PIMEC i FOMENT provided the access to the data bases.

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Correspondence to Anika Jansen.

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Table 10 Wording of relevant questions from questionnaire

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Jansen, A., Pineda-Herrero, P. Dual Apprenticeships in Spain – Catalonia: The Firms’ Perspective. Vocations and Learning 12, 129–154 (2019).

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  • Dual apprenticeships
  • Spain/Catalonia
  • Training motives
  • Training benefits
  • Educational transfer
  • Work-based learning
  • Occupation
  • Young people