Home Education Higher Education Vocational training and continuing education in Spain
Last update on January 18, 2022
Written by Money Saver Spain

Living in Spain and looking to improve your knowledge and skills? This article explains how you can access free and subsidized vocational training courses in Spain.

Whether you want to study in Spain 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. They range from short courses that take just a few hours to studies that last a few years. Training may be available in-house by your employer, as well as online.

Government-subsidized 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 aims at improving worker skills and company productivity as well as helping to meet labor market needs. The training is funded through Spanish social security contributions set at 0.7% (0.6% from the company and 0.1% from the employee) as well as via the European Social Fund and the Spanish Public State Employment Service (Servicio Publico de Empleo Estatal – SPEE). Each employee can claim 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 in-house at the place of employment. They can also take place at an educational or training institution or online. Courses can be certificated and they will need to be related to the company’s main activities.

Educational programs for the unemployed in Spain

There is also a program of training for the unemployed. This is mostly funded through the SPEE and managed by the educational authorities of the Autonomous Communities. Exact programs vary across regions but sessions on offer typically include transferable employability skills as well as some beginner-level courses (e.g. administration, retail). Most regions also have a specific program targeted at young people.

To find out about subsidized 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 low-cost 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.

The ayuntamiento of Fuenlabrada, Spain
The ayuntamiento of Fuenlabrada, Spain

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. However, there are a number of free courses (mostly short courses) online from universities and education institutions in Spain.

Class Central

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 from Harvard University and MIT. It offers courses from over 130 of the world’s best universities, education institutions and non-profit organizations, including the University of Madrid and the University of Valencia. Most courses aren’t free but the site has a Global Freshman section with free introductory courses covering subjects such as astronomy and sociology.

Future Learn

Future Learn offers hundreds of online courses, programs, and degrees from global universities and specialist organizations including Spanish universities in Madrid and Barcelona. Courses are free, programs are free at the introductory level, and postgraduate degrees are on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Open University

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 in the UK but there are over 10,000 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 centers

Another good place to look for cheap training courses in Spain is at your local cultural or community center. These centers 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. Enquire at your local center or you might be able to find information on the city center website. The Barcelona website has information on civic centers, courses, and workshops (some of the information is in Spanish). The Madrid website includes details of cultural centers 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!