Living in Spain and looking to improve your knowledge and skills? This article explains how you can access free and subsidised training courses in Spain.
Whether you want to study as a hobby, improve your knowledge in certain areas or pick up a new skill, it’s often possible to find free or low-cost training courses in Spain. There is an assortment of courses on offer in both English and Spanish, ranging from short courses that take just a few hours to more detailed study that lasts a few years. Training may be offered in-house by your employer, and other courses can be found online.
Government-subsidised training courses in Spain
There are government funded training courses in Spain available to both employees and those that are unemployed.
Vocational training for employees
The Vocational Training System for employees is aimed at improving worker skills and company productivity as well as helping to meet labour market needs. The training is funded through social security contributions set at 0.7% (0.6% contributed by the company and 0.1% by the employee) as well as via the European Social Fund and the Spanish Public State Employment Service (Servicio Publico de Empleo Estatal – SPEE). Legislation was introduced a few years ago stating that each employee is entitled to 20 hours of free training per year.
There is a wide range of training courses in Spain that can be carried out in a variety of ways. Sessions are sometimes arranged in-house at the place of employment. They can also take place at an educational or training institution or be completed online. Courses can be certificated and they will need to be related to the company’s main activities.
Educational programmes for the unemployed in Spain
There is also a programme of training for the unemployed. This is mostly funded through the SPEE and managed by the educational authorities of the Autonomous Communities. Exact programmes will vary across regions but sessions on offer will typically include transferable employability skills as well as some beginner level courses (e.g. administration, retail). Most regions will have a specific programme targeted at young people.
To find out about subsidised or free vocational training courses in Spain, ask your employer for information. You can also find information on available courses on the Fundacion Estatal portal. This website has a free e-learning platform where you can find an assortment of tools and resources.
Training courses funded by the city in Spain
Additionally there are many free or subsidised training courses in Spain run by city councils (ayuntamientos) for both workers and those unemployed. Your city council should have a website with a section on education and training (search for education/training or formacion if you can’t find the relevant page). There is a section on education and employment on the Madrid site and an education section including vocational training on the Barcelona site.
For information relating to full-time study costs in Spain, see our guide to studying in Spain.
Free courses offered by universities and education providers
The costs of studying at a Spanish university are above the average for EU countries, but there are a number of free courses (mostly short courses) offered online by universities and education institutions in Spain.
Through this website, you can find free online courses available at hundreds of worldwide universities including many Spanish institutions such as the University of Barcelona and the University of Madrid. You can search by university or subject. Courses mostly last a few weeks and cover a vast range of subjects from business to data science to microbiology.
edX is an online learning platform founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012. It offers courses from over 130 of the world’s best universities, education institutions and non-profit organisations, including the University of Madrid and the University of Valencia. Most courses need to be paid for but the site has a ‘Global Freshman’ section with free introductory courses covering subjects such as astronomy and sociology.
Future Learn offers hundreds of online courses, programmes and degrees from global universities and specialist organisations including Spanish universities in Madrid and Barcelona. Courses are offered free, programmes are free at the introductory level, and post-graduate degrees are offered on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Launched in 1969, the Open University (OU) is a UK-based distance learning institution with over 175,000 students enrolled worldwide. The majority of OU students are UK-based but there are over 10,000 located within the EU as well as many worldwide. There are fees payable for most courses but there are also hundreds of free courses to choose from on subjects ranging from history to technology. Most of these involve less than 25 hours of studying in total. You can browse free classes on the OU website.
UNED (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia) is a Spanish distance learning platform with courses available in 26 categories. Some courses are available free and they have a ‘Welcome Courses’ section. Most courses have no fixed start or finish date and can be completed at the student’s own pace. The website also has an Open Course Ware section that provides free access to educational materials for students.
Training courses in Spain at local centres
Another good place to look for free or cheap workshops or training courses in Spain is at your local cultural or community centre. These centres will often run more informal sessions of study where participants can learn new things in a friendly environment and meet new people. You can often find classes in subjects such as creative writing, drawing or improving IT skills. You will need to enquire at your local centre or you might be able to find information on the city centre website. The Barcelona website has information on civic centres, courses and workshops (some of the information is in Spanish). The Madrid website includes details of cultural centres by district as well as information on activities and events. You can find a list of available cultural spaces on the Malaga website.
Studied everything and looking for something new?
You can take an online singing course as well as learn tips and vocal exercises for free at Curso de Canto. You can even upload videos of your exercises on the website and receive feedback to help you improve!