Vocational education training and other training in extensive livestock breeding and professional shepherding in Spain

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In Spain, Vocational Educational Training has an offer of more than 160 different degrees belonging to 26 different professional families. Each training cycle is made up of different theoretical and practical modules that facilitate learning and putting the acquired knowledge into practice.

Within the Agrarian professional family you can find the following levels:

  • Basic Vocational Training (from 14 to 16 years old).
  • Middle Grade Training (16-18).
  • Higher Degree Training (18-20).

Some of this oficial diplomas have European recognition (Europass Diploma Suplement), for example:  higher technician in livestock and animal healthcare, technician in livestock farming production and technician in agro-ecological production.

Vocational Training is adapted to the needs of each student and, like other studies, such as university studies, is offered in different modalities: face-to-face, distance learning and with free exams.

Despite this varied offer of vocational training qualifications and Spain being a country with a great tradition in transhumance, also well documented, there is no specific training in extensive livestock farming.

On the other hand, in contrast to this whole panorama of non-specialized regulated training, there is a varied offer of courses related to extensive livestock farming, but none of them within the scope of formal academic training. Many entities, both private and public (agricultural unions, environmental organizations, agricultural universities, etc.) organize short-term training activities (courses, talks, conferences, seminars, etc.). The topics that are most offered in this type of non-formal training activities are: sustainable pasture management, genetic improvement, livestock routes and transhumance, etc.

There are also several shepherd schools in different parts of Spain where students receive imminently practical and dual training: theory (depending on the case, from 80 to 288 hours) and practical training on farms (from 600 to 900 hours). The objectives pursued in these schools are: to understand the extensive livestock system, to acquire skills and training in ways of teaching, tutoring and evaluating students when they are in practice.

Cesefor and Monte Mediterráneo Foundation, as partners of the Eu4sheferds project, have conducted interviews with transhumant shepherds to diagnose the training needs that exist within their profesión in Spain. All the people interviewed would be willing to teach and share their knowledge and experience in the trade, working directly with those who need to learn. All of them have the common feeling that their trade is being lost mainly due to the lack of generational change, the depopulation of the rural areas and the difficulties and lack of support.

In Spain, there are some trades, such as rancher, in which the profession can be exercised without the need to prove prior professional training. These circumstances do not favor the implementation of new forms of professional training, it is very difficult to implement training if to exercise a trade does not require prior training accredited with a degree.

An example to implement the training is similar to what happens with the courses of incorporation to the agricultural or ecological sector where the certificates allow obtaining a subsidy. Any farm from a certain size and that wants to access subsidies should have a mandatory professional training certificate.