Description

Timespan

2013 - present

Stage
Fully operational

Foundations

Policy area

This measure was establish to help the unemployed improve or certify their skills and hence increase their employability.

Policy goal

The instrument aims to reinforce the quality, the effectiveness and the responsiveness of active employment policies, namely regarding the professional qualification of unemployed people. This instrument creates a qualification measure that aims to adjust the personal employment plans and the individual potential and needs of each unemployed, in order to improve his/her employability, and favour his/her return to the labour market. Whenever considered adequate to the profile of the unemployed, the instrument may include a skills recognition, validation and certification process.

Mismatch
Explicitly designed to address skill mismatch

The instrument aims to integrate unemployed people into training schemes. It focuses on modular training and training at the workplace, as well as a skills recognition, validation and certification processes. This is done in order to help individuals acquire skills relevant to the labour market, and to mobilize individuals to pursue further qualification or retraining processes.

Aim of policy instrument
Administrative level
National
Main responsible body

Institute for Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP)

Stakeholders

IEFP regulates and coordinates this measure and also provides the modular training in their training centres. Public and private training centres and certified training entities of social partners can also provide the modular training. There is also a partners network (public and private companies, NGOs, etc) for the providing of training in the workplace. The EU and Portuguese Government co-fund through European Social Fund.

Funding

Data from December 2016 indicated that the total expenditure with this measures was €29,070,570. European funds (through the ESF) account for a maximum of 85% of funding with national state budget covering the remaining.

Intended beneficiaries

The priority beneficiaries of the instrument are: unemployed registered for at least 6 months; unemployed who do not hold the 9th grade (i.e. EQF level 2) or who do not have a qualification adjusted to the labour market; unemployed people whose spouse/partner is also unemployed, or who are single parents; unemployed between the ages of 18-29 (youth guarantee beneficiaries). With this measure, the beneficiaries acquire the skills relevant to the labour market and by doing so, their employability increases.

Processes

Use of labour market intelligence

Every two years IEFP defines a list of priorities based on LMSI tools. Current priorities were defined for 2016-2017 and will be revised for 2018. The priority sectors can be adapted regionally as a result of cooperation with local partners and consideration of regional and local strategies and action plans. The IEFP develops targeted training actions, in which the needs of both the unemployed and employers are taken into account. Along with the training in the workplace, this measure contributes to skills matching.

Financial schemes

The unemployed person aged more than 23 years (or 18 years for NEETS) receives an allowance of 35% of IAS ("Indexante de Apoios Sociais", a social support index), the value of which in 2017 was €421.32). Students are also entitled to transport (up to 15% of IAS), child care (to children and dependent adults of the students, up to 50% of IAS) and housing allowance (if the training centre is more than 50km from the place of residence of the student he/she can have an allowance of up to 30% of IAS).

Frequency of updates

The training priorities used to define the training offer are updated every 2 years. The next update will be for 2018-2019. The employment level of participants is monitored 6, 9 and 12 months after leaving programme.

Development

The measure had two adjustments. The first adjustment (December 2013) was made to integrate specific procedures aimed at youth (Vida Activa Jovem), with the purpose to reinforce the qualification of young unemployed adults (18-29 years) that were looking for their first job or a new job. This was made under a broader government intervention to tackle the rise of youth unemployment under European Union recommendations. The second adjustment (2017) introduced some operational changes, introducing more flexibility in the modular training specifically directed to candidates with low qualifications. The purpose is to develop specific and complementary responses (Vida Activa Qualifica+) to reinforce the levels of certified qualifications of this group and to improve their inclusion on the labour market.

Barriers

The measure is quite open about target groups and includes different kind of interventions. Nevertheless, during the implementation there were difficulties to reach two of its targets, the older unemployed people and the unemployed with lower qualifications. To better reach these targets groups, a complementary path (Vida Activa Qualifica+) was created, which includes a larger scope of training.

Success factors

There isn't an evaluation of the programme yet, but it increased the coverage of unemployed people by active labour market measures. The programme is centred in the identification of the needs of the target groups, providing different paths of training and/or recognition and certification of skills acquired according to the specific characteristics.

Monitoring

IEFP monitors the financial expenditure and number of students enrolled in the measure monthly. The same information on a national and regional basis is provided in its annual report, which is made public via the website.

Innovativeness
Slightly innovative

This is a case-management based intervention. The assessment of personal needs of the unemployed guides their referral to active measures and, specially, combines certification of acquired skills and prescription of training paths according to individual needs.

Sustainability

Evidence of effectiveness

In 2016, the measure covered a total of 145,551 individuals. The employment ratio after training is around 35%, as per information provided by IEFP. This is a massive intervention in registered unemployed people. As it is part of the core intervention of IEFP, it reaches a large number of beneficiaries. According to opinions of experts, most of the training provided is of lower duration than needed to promote significant progress in qualifications, and this reduces the impact in employment after participating in the programme.

Engagement of stakeholders

The programme was initiated by a Ministerial Order and its coordination is the responsibility of the national agency for employment, the Institute of Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP). The stakeholders engagement is well defined and the role of IEFP is clearly established as coordinator of the implementation. There is no specific mechanism of monitoring this measure, but it is followed-up by social partners as part of their engagement in the tripartite Administration Council of IEFP, where activities are planned and reports are approved.

Transferability
Easily transferable

The instrument can be used successfully in countries in which public employment services also run a training policy and can provide certification of acquired skills. The methodology is successful in a condition of strong coordination between referral, training services and certification procedures. In Portugal, this is possible, mostly by the role of IEFP, who simultaneously is the national employment agency and manager of a national network of training centres.

Sustainability

During the current programming period of European funds, the continuity is guaranteed, as it is co-financed by ESF. As it is currently a core measure in activation of unemployed, it is likely to remain in the political agenda.

Description

Timespan

It was initially launched in 1984 and last revised in 2008 with no end-date.

Stage
Fully operational

Foundations

Policy area

The apprenticeship courses are work-linked initial vocational training courses targeting young people.

Policy goal

The apprenticeship courses are dual training courses that provide double certification (educational and a professional), targeting young people and their integration into the labour market, and/or allowing the continuation of studies to higher education. The main principles of this measure are: intervene among young people in transition to active life, in order to improve their employability levels and social and professional inclusion; recognize the importance of on-the-job training, improving the valorisation of the company’s contribution to training; alternating training methods, that is theory and practice and the contexts in which both occur. The number of apprenticeships courses places and their professional areas is defined annually by the Institute of Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP), based on an assessment of the dynamics of the labour market.

Mismatch
Part of broader programme, yet with explicit focus

This instrument is part of a broader national policy that aims to prevent early school leavers and to develop the generalization of the secondary education as a minimum qualification of the population. The potential skill mismatch is an important driver of this policy instrument, prevented with the LMSI used in the definition of courses and the on-the-job training.

Aim of policy instrument

To match the skills of young people with secondary education.

Administrative level
National
Main responsible body

Institute for Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP)

Stakeholders

The system is run by national agency for employment and training, the Institute of Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP), who is responsible for the general and technological in-school components. Companies are responsible for the in-company practical training. IEFP is the primary stakeholder, who coordinates and regulates the measure and its training centres network. The EU and Portuguese Government co-fund through European Social Funs. Other partners:
- External training entities (to provide training when IEFP centres do not have enough capacity) - public and private accredited training institutions;
- Entities to ensure the on-the job training: public and private companies and other employers;
- Entities for the development of the qualification (e.g. providing human and physical resources): elementary, secondary and professional schools; universities and polytechnic institutes; technological centres and business incubators.

Funding

Data from December 2016 indicated that the total public expenditure with this measure was €64,047,104. The apprenticeship courses are co-funded by European funds (ESF) (to a maximum of 85%) and the national state budget. The private contribution is not quantified, though involves the time allocated by company employees and the adaptation to the requirements of the training components.

Intended beneficiaries

Young people who are aged under 25 years and who have completed the 9th grade or over, without having completed secondary education. The programme is intended to provide the beneficiaries a more practical teaching (with on-the-job training), oriented to the labour market integration through both professional and scholarly qualifications (double certification).

Processes

Use of labour market intelligence

Every two years IEFP defines a list of priorities based on LMSI tools. Current priorities were defined for 2016-2017 and will be revised for 2018. The IEFP uses the Qualification Needs Anticipation System, which aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of skills supply and demand, together with its own research, as input of information. The priorities can be adapted regionally as a result of cooperation with local partners and consideration of regional and local strategies and action plans.

Financial schemes

The students are entitled to a monthly allowance of a maximum value of 10% of the IAS ("indexante dos apoios sociais", a social support Index), where the grant is dependents on attendance. In 2017, the IAS was €421.32. Students with economic difficulties have an allowance for school supplies depending on the level of economic difficulties of the student/household (level one of the family allowance is €163; level two of the family allowance is €81.50). The students with more than 3h/day of training are entitled to a food allowance of a maximum of €4.52 per workable day. Students are also entitled to transport (up to 15% of IAS), child care (to children and dependent adults of the students, up to 50% of IAS) and housing allowance (if the training centre is more than 50km from the place of residence of the student he/she can have an allowance of up to 30% of IAS).

Frequency of updates

The training priorities of IEFP used for the definition of apprenticeship courses are updated every two years.

Development

The apprenticeship courses adopted in 1984 are inspired by the German dual system and were revised several times. One of the reasons for adaptation was the progress in youth schooling. In an early phase, there were early dropouts from the educational system and mostly courses with low qualification level were provided. In the 1990s, they were redesigned to adapt to level 4 EQF and adopted a broader scope, both with more time allocated to general and technological education, and with a redefinition of professional components. The last revision was in 2008, aiming at giving more flexibility to training providers in managing the curriculum, though maintaining the approach to training, with classroom and work contexts.

Barriers

The dual training is demanding from companies participating in the training scheme. The involvement and readiness of companies to perform their role in training is one of the issues that is permanently discussed. Furthermore, the trainees don't have a professional status in the companies, they just have a training contract. The development of the model led to increase the time allocated to a component that was called "simulated practice", which is a work simulation in training context. It also led to giving flexibility to training providers to define the duration of the different parts of practical training.

Success factors

There is a political priority to this scheme that led to high levels of funding and commitment of IEFP in its implementation. There is also a national network of partner companies solidified as major partners in the system. The flexibility in curriculum management allowed the scheme to be adapted to different local and economic contexts.

Monitoring

IEFP monitors the financial expenditure and number of students enrolled in the measure monthly. The same information on a national and regional basis is provided in its annual report, which is made public via the website.

Innovativeness
Slightly innovative

The innovation in the adaptation of a dual system to the Portuguese system refers to the way training is coordinated. Instead of being based only on the commitment of each party involved, there is a coordination by IEFP that allows for compensation of weaknesses of training partners, and there is a flexible management of curriculum to adapt to different contexts.

Sustainability

Evidence of effectiveness

The number of beneficiaries reached in 2016 was 30,077. The more recent evaluation on the results of the instrument, dated 2013, draws on data covering the period 2007- 2013. The aim of the evaluation was not the apprenticeship courses, but the measures to fight early school leavers, which covers the training measures with double certification (including apprenticeship courses). This evaluation concluded that the employability levels associated with the apprenticeship courses are always higher, compared to those associated with training in general, especially in the case of male participants. In this sense, as a training measure, the results in terms of employability are very positive. These courses also present very low failure and drop-out rates. In this report, it is stated that the number of beneficiaries will reach 100,000 by 2020. The evaluation concluded that 9 months after the conclusion of the training, 44.2% of the apprenticeship courses students were working, comparing to 10% of the students that were in the regular secondary education. Former apprentices also have less precarious employment conditions.

Engagement of stakeholders

The relation between stakeholders is established at local level through protocols in order to stimulate the partner’s network. The regional delegations of IEFP have a list of certified training providers that cooperate when IEFP training centres do not have the capacity to provide all the training or local priorities advice the involvement of partners. The companies/employers where the on-the job training takes place are selected by the training centres and a protocol is established between the entities. The training centre monitors the conditions provided by the employer for the on-the-job training. There is a monitoring committee that monitors and evaluates the apprenticeship courses. This committee meets quarterly and consists of two members from IEFP, representatives from the social partners, one representative from the Ministry of Education, one representative from the National Agency for Qualification and two people of recognised merit in the area of employment and vocational training (appointed by the government).

Transferability
Easily transferable

This instrument draws on existing experiences of dual apprenticeship schemes in other European and non-European countries. The Portuguese experience can be considered to increase the transferability of a dual system to weak economic contexts and to countries with industrial microenterprises and SME, not ready to sustain an environment of work with enough diversification for the requirements of level 4 EQF courses.

Sustainability

The apprenticeship system has been a public priority over the years and is seen as having very good employment ratios. It is also an established training alternative for youngsters who left regular schooling. In recent years, the attention on dual system was renewed. IEFP is highly involved in the organisation of the courses. It is expected that the system will continue running over the coming years.

Description

Timespan

2012 - present

Stage
Fully operational

Foundations

Policy area

This measure is applied to bachelor degrees and integrated master degrees in public universities and polytechnic institutes.

Policy goal

The policy goal is to gradually reduce the number of unemployed graduates from public universities and polytechnic institutes by limiting the number of vacancies in the public higher education institutes, taking in consideration the level of unemployment of graduates in the calculation of the number of new places to be opened. It is an instrument regulating vacancies to be opened by calculating formulae of employability of graduates. There is a set of formulae that must be applied by each public university and polytechnic institute every year to determine if they can increase or must decrease the number of vacancies for each of the bachelors and integrated master courses they intend to open.

Mismatch
Explicitly designed to address skill mismatch

This measure was designed specifically to address skill mismatch by taking into consideration the labour market needs in the calculation of the number of university places for new students in the public higher institutions. In this measure, the labour market needs are addressed through the level of unemployment of the students that graduate from the public higher institutions.

Administrative level
National
Main responsible body

Ministry of Science Technology and Higher Education through the Directorate-General for Higher Education (DGES)

Stakeholders

Directorate-General for Higher Education (DGES) is the central service of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education that ensures the implementation of the measure and the dissemination of the employability levels. The public universities and polytechnic institutes must comply with the measure in the calculation of the vacancies. The Directorate-General of Education and Science Statistics provides all the necessary information to calculate the unemployment levels. The applicants to public higher education institutes and their families can base their decisions on the employment levels of the institutions.

Funding

The state budget and the tuition fees paid by students finance the higher education, but his measure, in particular, doesn't imply any specific funding.

Intended beneficiaries

Individuals with complete secondary education or equivalent that want to obtain a degree in public universities and polytechnic institutes. The applicants to higher education benefit through reduction of the probability of unemployment after the graduation.

Processes

Use of labour market intelligence

The definition of the limit of vacancies in public universities and polytechnic institutes takes into consideration: the unemployment level of the institution/study cycle; the general unemployment level (uses the data from all the higher education institutes); and the unemployment level of the education/training area. The institution/study cycle with a high level of unemployment cannot raise the number of vacancies compared to the previous academic year (a high level of unemployment is considered when the value of unemployment in the institution/study cycle is superior to the general unemployment level). Due to the specific needs of the country, the measure also states that public institutes of higher education that have a medical course should ensure the maintenance of the number of vacancies of the previous academic year, and public institutes of higher education that have 1st grade school teachers degree should not increase the number of vacancies of the previous academic year.

Financial schemes

This measure has no specific financial allocation. It is a criteria for the definition of the number of new students allowed. Though, public high school institutions are financed by criteria that include the number of students enrolled. Therefore, it has an indirect role in the financing of institutions, as it encourages a certain kind of offer and restricts other kind of offers).

Frequency of updates

Every year the universities and polytechnic institutes must apply the LMSI instruments in order to determine the number of vacancies.

Development

Since the adoption, this instrument has not been adjusted yet.

Barriers

Due to the recent implementation of the measure (5 years), there isn't any evidence of barriers to the implementation yet.

Success factors

There isn't any evidence yet.

Monitoring

The Directorate-General for Higher Education, in cooperation with the Directorate-General of Education and Science Statistics, the Council of Portuguese Universities Rectors and Portuguese Polytechnics Coordinating Council are meant to have produced a study on the employability indicators and their use in the process of vacancies fixation, the outputs of which are not public, if it exists.

Innovativeness
Not innovative

It is a way of using LMSI to reduce mismatch between high education degrees and labour market that was non-existent in the past in the country.

Sustainability

Evidence of effectiveness

Due to the recent implementation of the measure (5 years) and the duration of courses, it is too early to assess its impact on skills mismatch. There isn't yet enough evidence to assess unexpected benefits or costs.

Engagement of stakeholders

The regulation clearly specifies the role of the main institutional stakeholders. The Directorate-General for Higher Education ensures the implementation of the measure and the Directorate-General of Education and Science Statistics provides the data to be used in the formulas by the public universities and polytechnic institutes.

Transferability
Easily transferable

It is easily transferable to every country in which the State has a role in the definition of an offer of high education vacancies.

Sustainability

It is expected to continue, as it is an instrument to address the graduates skills mismatch issue, a topic that is gaining salience in the country, in the context of the high level of youth unemployment.

Description

Timespan

1997 - present

Stage
Fully operational

Foundations

Policy area

The measure consists of an on-the-job practical experience with the purpose to promote the integration of young people in the labour market or the retraining of the unemployed.

Policy goal

The improvement of qualifications and skills of unemployed young people (18-30 years), as well as of unemployed people who are in a situation of particular vulnerability, in order to promote their employability. The professional internships aim at smoothing transitions to labour market. Their major intention is providing a first work experience to young unemployed who lack practical skills and knowledge of the work environment. After the big economic crisis, they were extended to cover the transition to the labour market of long term unemployed who need to reconnect with work experience, as well as other groups that are victims of different kinds of prejudice or difficulties of access to labour market due to their social background.

Mismatch
Part of broader programme, yet with explicit focus

The main focus is on preventing unemployment and supporting transition into active life, but the programme also intends to combat skill mismatch of young and adult unemployed, by complementing existing qualifications. One of the goals of this instrument is to promote the companies’ awareness of new trainings and skills, in order to favour job creation in new fields.

Administrative level
National
Main responsible body

Institute for Employment and Vocational Training (Instituto do Emprego e Formação Profissional)

Stakeholders

The IEFP coordinates and regulates the measure. The EU and Portuguese Government co-fund through European Social Fund. The promoters of internships are private (profit and non-profit) organisations, with legal status. This includes public owned companies.

Funding

This programme is funded by the ESF with national co-funding. In the period between 2007-20013, a total of €413,552,068 was spent in this measure, in which €289,486,447 was from ESF (70%). The grants provided to the interns are co-funded between 5% to 35% by the employer (depending on the profile of the intern and the type of institution). The public co-financing is done through IEFP. The disbursements in 2015 have been of €197,544 (according to Activity report of IEFP).

Intended beneficiaries

The intended beneficiaries are the unemployed registered in the job centres:
- Aged 18-30 years, holding a qualification level 3-8.
- Long-term unemployed aged 30-45 years, holding a qualification level 3-8 obtained in the last 3 years, or a qualification level 2 if they are enrolled in a "Centro Qualifica" (centres that are part of a programme that aims to increase adult's qualifications level).
- Long-term unemployed aged over 45 years, holding a qualification level 3-8 or a qualification level 2 if they are enrolled in a "Centro Qualifica".
- Lone parents
- Unemployed whose spouse/partner is also unemployed.
- People with disabilities
- Refugees
- Victims of domestic violence
- Ex-convicts
- Ex-drug addicts

The programme is intended to improve the qualifications of beneficiaries through in-work training. The in-work training allows the matching of skills supply and demand and in this way promotes their employability.

Processes

Use of labour market intelligence

The criteria for analysis of applications of promoters to organise an internship include the economic situation of the municipality where the internship will take place, as well as the after internship employment level of beneficiaries of internships organised by the promoter, both in the company and in other employers.

Financial schemes

Beneficiaries are entitled to a monthly allowance during the internship. The duration of the internship is generally 9 months, but in some circumstances can have a different duration. If it is promoted by entities recognised as being of strategic interest to the national economy or to a particular region, the duration can be of 6, 9 or 12 months. If the beneficiaries are people with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, refugees, ex-convicts or ex-drug addicts in recovering process, the internship can be extended to 12 months. The amount of the allowance depends on the beneficiary’s level of qualification (from EQF levels 3 to 8, i.e. from secondary education to PhD). The amount ranges from 1.2 IAS ("indexante dos apoios sociais", a social support Index) for EQF level 3 and 1.75 IAS for EQF level 8. In 2017, the IAS was €421.32. In addition, beneficiaries are insured against accidents at work and are entitled to a food allowance of a maximum of €4.52 per workable day.

Frequency of updates

The instrument has no regular update. Most changes resulted from previous evaluations or political discretion. The employability ratios used to select promoters use information calculated on an annual basis.

Development

In the 2015 evaluation, "ESF Supporting youth in Portugal CIE of Vocational Training and Traineeships", it is stated that the programme maintains its original features regarding its aims, target population and scope. The main changes are related with:
- Eligibility criteria - initially the age limit of the main target was 30 years, but during the financial crisis it was raised to 35 years (2009 to 2011), and then went back to 30 years. Initially the programme was also targeted mainly to individuals with compulsory education that have not graduated college, but in 2009-2011 the focus went to more educated individuals (post-secondary education was required in 2011), and in 2013 due to the deterioration of economic conditions, the target went back to individuals with at least compulsory education.
- Maximum duration - the duration of the grant was initially 12 months, but in 2010 it was reduced to 9 months.
- Total amount of the grant - there have been changes in the factor applied to the IAS and also in the IAS value, which has been increasing over the years (in 2007 it was €397.6, increasing to €421.32 in 2017).

Barriers

This is a successful active labour market instrument. Its overuse and risk of the "cannibal effect" over real jobs is often discussed by some institutions. Some adaptations were made to counter this trend, such as the limitation of access to public promoters and changes in the share of the promoters co-financing of costs with interns.

Success factors

The measure is seen as promoting high levels of employability, both in the companies offering an internship and in the local labour market. It is considered a powerful tool in easing the transition of youngsters and vulnerable groups to labour market.

Monitoring

IEFP monitors financial expenditure and the number of internships promoted monthly. The same information on a national and regional basis is provided in its annual report, which is made public via the website.

Innovativeness
Slightly innovative

The innovation refers to the scope of the instrument, covering both young unemployed and particularly disadvantaged unemployed, regardless of age. In addition, while other programmes target low-education workers, the employment internships provides on-the-job training to young qualified unemployed.

Sustainability

Evidence of effectiveness

In the evaluation "ESF Supporting youth in Portugal CIE of Vocational Training and Traineeships" made in 2015 regarding the period between 2007-2013, it is stated that the internships significantly raise the employment probability (comparing with unemployed people that weren't enrolled in the measure), and this effect persists for a relatively long period (two years). This programme is more effective in men, with no significant differences found for different schooling subgroups. Positive effects of the programme are not hindered by difficult labour market conditions. The results are equally positive during the period of high and rising unemployment, and in regions with fewer employment opportunities. Between 2004 and 2013, there was a total of 148,857 internships. The evaluation concluded that traineeships do have a significant increase in the employment prospects of participants. The 2015 evaluation did not identified any unexpected benefit or cost.

Engagement of stakeholders

The programme was initiated by a Ministerial Order and its coordination is the responsibility of the national agency for employment, the Institute of Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP). It is a well established measure in Portuguese active labour market policy, entering is third decade of existence. The stakeholders engagement is well defined and the role of IEFP is clearly established as coordinator of the implementation. There is no specific mechanism of monitoring this measure, but is followed-up by social partners as part of their engagement in the tripartite Administration Council of IEFP, where activities are planned and reports are approved.

Transferability
Easily transferable

This programme is transferable to countries where youngsters with intermediate or high qualifications face transition difficulties to active life, due to lack of experience with work contexts. This is a situation mainly present in countries where secondary education and VET is school-centred. In crisis context, it is also an important element to reconnect groups with some qualifications to the labour market, namely creating a favourable context for integration of groups of victims of prejudice, that passed by long-term experience outside a job or facing specific integration difficulties, such as language and cultural barriers.

Sustainability

The continuity of the instrument is expected. Its two main reasons for existence are still relevant. The secondary and VET system remains school-based, and youngsters with intermediate and high qualifications face labour market transition problems. People from disadvantaged background and especially the long-term unemployed have serious problems in reconnecting to the labour market. Nevertheless, for this second dimension of the programme, there is a debate over the negative effects of the measure and the need for alternative instruments. Therefore, it looks like the measure will remain for sure as a transition programme for youth (its original scope) and likely in its current shape.

Description

Timespan

1989 - present

Stage
Fully operational

Foundations

Policy area

The vocational courses are work-linked initial vocational training courses provided in schools of secondary education, targeting young people.

Policy goal

The vocational courses have three main goals: contribute to the development of personal and professional skills in order to pursuit a profession; develop training offers related with the local and regional work needs; and enable the students to continue to post-secondary education or higher education. They provide a double certification (secondary and professional) giving an EQF level 4. The vocational courses are courses of the secondary level of education (double certification), characterized by a strong connection with the professional world. Taking into account the personal profile of the students, the learning carried out enhances the development of competences for a profession, in cooperation with the local business sector.

Mismatch
Explicitly designed to address skill mismatch

The professional courses were created with the aim of increasing the number of youngsters with intermediate qualifications in labour market. They are one of the ways of accomplishing secondary education, in an alternation training programme.

Administrative level
National
Main responsible body

Agency for Qualification and Vocational Education (ANQEP)

Stakeholders

The ANQEP is the coordinator of the vocational courses. These are developed by private or public professional schools (specialised schools of secondary education) and public secondary schools (comprehensive schools with generalist education and vocational courses). The large majority of professional schools are private and are congregated in a association (National Association of Professional Schools (ANESPO)), with the main aim to provide support to the schools, promote training quality and develop projects in this area. Some of the professional schools are owned by social partners, including the two trade-union confederations, and some are owned by local authorities. The on-the-job training is provided in public and private companies and other employers. The EU and Portuguese Government co-fund through European Social Fund.

Funding

The professional courses are financed by European funds (through the ESF) and national state budget. The total cost of the courses in all the schools that provide them (public and private secondary schools, professional schools) is not available.

Intended beneficiaries

Young people under the age of 20, who have completed the 9th grade or equivalent education. The programme is intended to provide the beneficiaries with more practical teaching (with on-the-job training), oriented to labour market integration after completion or to continue their studies to post-secondary or higher education.

Processes

Use of labour market intelligence

LMSI tool used is the Qualification Needs Anticipation System (SANQ), which aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of skills supply and demand. It uses statistical information on labour market retrospective dynamics (last 5 years) and anticipation of skills needs. The system also implements its own questionnaire to employers on recruitment intentions and skills needs, and proceeds to perform a qualitative analysis of skills demand. The SANQ has a direct impact on the provision of vocational education and training in public and private schools/training centres. On the basis of the criteria and priorities produced by the SANQ, the institutional actors of VET define the training offer that includes the vocational courses.

Financial schemes

The students are entitled to: a) Food allowance - maximum €4.52 per workable day; b) Transport allowance - 50% of the monthly transport signature. The value varies according to regions and transport prices, having a maximum eligible value of €146.30. The allowance can be of 100% if the student has economic difficulties; c) Housing allowance up to 12.5% of the monthly minimum wage (€557 in 2017) or 30%, if the student has economic difficulties) if the school is at a distance of more than 50km from the place of residence of the student. Students are insured against accidents during education.

Frequency of updates

The data available in the SANQ is for the period between 2014-2015. The national diagnostics module should be updated every three years.

Development

The programme was created in 1989 as an innovative experience in education by diversification of education partners. The professional schools were originated in civil society and most of them, being private, were originated by civil society initiatives, including social partners, employment associations, and local development initiatives. The creation of professional schools was part of an education reform and of an evaluation of previous VET experiences at secondary level, and intended to create a fully new approach to education and to VET. It was a success, leading to the creation of a national network of schools that provided new qualifications and territorial diversification of VET courses. In 2005, the government considered that professional courses should also be offered by generalist secondary schools, and from then on courses were also organised in these schools. The strategic regulation of the offer has been increasing after research showed that it was commanded by demand-at-entrance, that is the preferences of youngsters rather than labour market demands. The LMSI became very important in regulating the growth of professional courses.

Barriers

The professional courses were almost all co-financed by ESF in its origin, and reported organisational and financial difficulties coming from the financing scheme's limitations regarding the concept and scope of professional schools. Currently, the courses that are only co-financed by ESF in some regions and schools complain that authorized courses are below the needed to meet the demands of youngsters and local employers, at least in some professional areas and regions.

Success factors

The professional schools have a curriculum with modular organisation, unlike generalist education. The professional schools have an education model that is successful in the involvement of students within the learning process, increasing educational attainment and levels of qualification. The diversification of educational actors involved in professional schools allowed for higher visibility of VET and involvement of actors with influence in the local labour markets.

Monitoring

ANQEP ensures the monitoring, evaluation and regulation of the provision of vocational education and training of dual certification. An assessment of the relevance of qualifications is published each year, based on a retrospective analysis of employment and evolution and a perspective of qualification needs. The unit of analysis for employment is the National Qualification of Professions at four-digit level and the National Code of Qualifications at six-digit level. The relevance assessment is a quantitative composite indicator that varies between one (not relevant) and ten (maximum relevance).

Innovativeness
Slightly innovative

Portugal struggled for decades with low interest of youngsters and families in VET, after the traditional courses were closed. On the other hand, the existing VET courses in education were too school-centred and there was low engagement of employers and community stakeholders in their development. The apprenticeship system was run outside formal education and was concentrated in some economic sectors. The way schools engaged communities in professional courses was very innovative in the country's experience. It also tried a different way of organising training, which was less demanding from employers than the dual courses tradition, that showed to be appropriate to the territorial specificities, namely of rural and interior communities. Furthermore, this was the first experience in which VET was not associated with low achievement or social selectivity, and changed the image of VET from a "second opportunity" to an alternative of success.

Sustainability

Evidence of effectiveness

The more recent evaluation with results of the instrument, dated 2013, draws on data covering the period 2007- 2013. The aim of the evaluation was not the vocational courses, but the measures to fight early school leavers, which covers the training measures with double certification (includes vocational courses). The vocational courses have been increasing their number of students through the years in a very sustainable manner. Between 2005/2006 and 2011/2012 the number tripled (from 36,943 to 113,749). The completion rate of the students enrolled in the vocational courses is 20.7 percentage points higher than the students enrolled in the regular secondary education. The evaluation concluded that 14 months after the conclusion of the training, 43.2% of the vocational courses students were working, compared to 10% of the students in regular secondary education. These students also have a more stable labour relation with the employer (less precarious employment conditions). Vocational courses tend to increasingly correspond to the provision of an alternative choice for an audience with normal school paths, and represent a preferred option to combine level 4 of professional certification with the possibility of aligning in a vocational qualification with higher education.

Engagement of stakeholders

The programme was initiated by a Government Decree and its coordination is the responsibility of the Agency for Qualification and Vocational Education (ANQEP). It is a well established measure in the Portuguese vocational education and training system, with nearly 30 years of existence. The stakeholders engagement is well defined and the role of ANQEP is clearly established as coordinator of the implementation of the measure and of the network of professional and secondary schools. ANESPO is the main interlocutor of the professional schools.

Transferability
Easily transferable

This instrument draws on existing experiences of training in other European and non-European countries, though its main source of inspiration is not the general dual model, but other European experiences in "school-based" education, with involvement of partners in internships.

Sustainability

It is expected that the professional courses remain as the key instrument of VET for youngsters at secondary level. Having started as an innovative experience 30 years ago, they became mainstream and are now the model for all schools' VET courses. They may face new financial constraints after 2020, depending on the strategy adopted for the co-financing of ESF to Portuguese education and training policy.