On April 22, 1997, the Basque Government approved the Basque Vocational Training Plan, defined as the basic instrument for identifying and satisfying the production system’s needs and requirements concerning manpower skills and qualifications. The Plan was conceived and defined from a global, integral perspective on skills, qualifications and vocational training in general. In other words, it recognized that planning must take account of needs, of existing demand and of measures on training and skills, and that it should also cover both initial and permanent training. Training measures and action should furthermore be addressed to the population as a whole; to young students at school, young people with no qualifications looking for their first job, unemployed workers, workers in jobs and so on.
The Basque Vocational Training Plan takes a broad view of the issues arising from the relation between education, training and employment and attempts to anticipate them as far as possible. This is particularly important when the production system, the economy and society as a whole are subjected to rapid, constant change. The Plan also aims to be systematic, and is designed to go beyond the usual, rather unimaginative approaches based on the sum of partial reforms.
As a major priority, the Plan introduces an integrated qualifications and vocational training system capable of providing co-ordinated, global, optimum treatment for skill-, qualification- and VT-related problems encountered by different groups of people, organizations and companies. This means that Vocational Training in all its forms has a single, common point of professional reference that orients training action towards the kind of skills and qualifications required by production processes and the labour market.
The system is also capable of evaluating and recognizing the different ways in which people today acquire skills and improve their professional qualifications, and integrates them into the certificates awarded.
This integrated Vocational Training and qualifications system offers a comprehensive institutional response to training needs through an integrated modular training catalogue offered at a network of centres. The catalogue is organized into modular packages adapted to the needs of school children and the active population in general.
Finally, the system introduced a skill acknowledgement credit system for the whole of the Basque Country which is sufficiently flexible to permit the recognition and certification of skill units acquired in different ways, at different times and in different places. An individual skill record is opened for anyone beginning a training programme linked to a series of skill units, or applying for the first time for such skills to be assessed and officially accredited. This individual record, which accompanies the applicant permanently, documents the skill units and qualifications achieved, together with the procedures used to acquire them and the authorized organization or centre that issued them.
Taken together, the skill credit acknowledgement scheme and the accompanying individual skill record make an efficient instrument for companies, trade unions, employment offices and services and training agents for encouraging transparency in the labour market, aiding human resource planning and providing support for the definition of training programmes.
To develop the Plan, the Basque Government has created a monitoring body called the Basque Professional Qualifications System and the Basque Vocational Training and Qualifications Office. Another related organization, the Quality and Assessment Agency, has been recently created.
The Basque Professional Qualifications System was created to provide and distribute the figures, data and general information needed in the planning of vocational training and manpower policies.
The Basque Vocational Training and Qualifications Office is to be entrusted with the task of defining the structure of the qualifications involved and of establishing and maintaining the Professional Qualifications System at the highest levels of quality and social acceptance. It will also promote developments and improvements in vocational training.