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General themes

VET in Portugal comprises the following main features:

  • Permeability (horizontal and vertical) between different VET programmes and between general education and VET programmes.
  • All VET programmes grant double certification: an education certificate and a professional qualification.
  • Participation in upper secondary education has significantly increased, since 2005.
  • Early leaving from education and training has been steadily decreasing, since 2008.

Distinctive features ([1]Adapted from Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Portugal. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8119_en.pdf
)

Key principles of VET provision are the wide range of programmes accessible to young people and adults, the link between VET provision and labour market needs, and flexibility in type and duration of courses for adults. VET learners have the possibility to access programmes at higher levels or higher education. Credits achieved in post-secondary level programmes may be recognised when applying to a higher education programme in the same field of study. Permeability is secured for adults older than 23 by offering them an access to higher education through recognition of previous training and professional experience. Accrediting of publicly funded VET providers and trainers is mandatory and, along with their external evaluations, ensures quality of VET.

The national qualifications system (SNQ) ([2]Decreto-Lei (Decree-Law) n.º 396/2007, de 31 de Dezembro (link to the consolidated legislation).) promotes upper secondary education as the minimum level of attainment, expanding IVET options and flexible learning paths for adults. The SNQ adopted a governance model based on involvement of the different VET providers, sector councils, and social partners, establishing common objectives and instruments. Tools that support SNQ are:

High on the policy agenda are the following challenges:

  • further reducing early leaving from education and training and discourage the entry of unqualified young people into the labour market;
  • increasing adult educational attainment by widening access to learning through modularisation;
  • improving tutor support to learners and reasserting the value of transferable skills in the curricula, in order to tackle education and training failure;
  • modernising learning provision through new teaching methods and wider variety of VET courses leading to competence-based qualifications;
  • offering initial and continuing VET provision in line with labour market requirements;
  • upskilling vulnerable groups and promoting their socio-professional integration.

Policy initiatives have resulted in an increase in upper secondary VET programmes, ensuring that VET programmes lead to double certification, and boosting the RVCC system ([7]Reconhecimento, validação e certificação de competências (recognition, validation and certification of competences)
) development. National authorities are also implementing measures for adults through the Qualifica programme ([8]A programme developed to promote investment in training pathways that will lead to the effective qualification of learners, especially focused on the improvement of adult qualification or employability. Decreto-Lei (Decree-law) n.º 14/2017 de 26 de janeirohttps://www.qualifica.gov.pt/#/programaQualifica 
) and assuring the continuity of lifelong learning policies, through the reinforcement of specialised Qualifica centres, launched in 2016. They target people over 18 years old who seek a qualification, guiding those who are low-skilled to RVCC processes. They provide guidance, counselling for young people (aged 15 or older), especially for NEETs ([9]Not in education, employment or training.), as well as increasing proximity to target populations.

Data adapted from VET in Portugal Spotlight 2018 ([10]Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Portugal. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8119_en.pdf
).

Population in 2018: 10 291 027 ([11]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].)

It decreased since 2013 by 1.9% due to negative natural growth ([12]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

Population is ageing; Portugal is the fourth country with the highest proportion of elderly in the EU.

An old-age-dependency ratio is expected to increase from 31 in 2015 to 65 in 2060 ([13]Old-age-dependency ratio is defined as the ratio between the number of persons aged 65 and more over the number of working-age persons (15-64). The value is expressed per 100 persons of working age (15-64).).

 

Population forecast by age group and old-age-dependency ratio

Source: Eurostat, proj_15ndbims [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

 

 

Most companies are micro and small-sized. In 2017 the share of individual enterprises was 68.0% ([14]INE (2019).
Empresas em Portugal - 2017.
).

 

Enterprises by class size (%)

 

 

Main economic sectors:

  • commerce;
  • services;
  • construction & real estate activities;
  • agriculture and fisheries.

Since 2011, Portugal made major reforms deregulating professions. In 2019, there are 238 professions and 43 competent authorities registered in the database of the European Commission.

In 2015, a legal framework ([15]Decreto-Lei (Decree-Law) n.º 37/2015, de 10 de março.) was adopted establishing a different way to gain access into professions and to practice them. According to these new regulations, professional qualifications required to access a particular profession or professional activity are:

  • tertiary education qualifications;
  • training references/standards for non-higher qualifications included in the National Qualifications Catalogue (CNQ);
  • training references of non-higher qualifications not foreseen in the CNQ;
  • diplomas or certificates obtained by passing exams without previous training.

Total unemployment (2018) ([16]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.): 6.0%; it decreased by 1.4 percentage points since 2008 and reached its lowest since 2008 ([17]Source: Eurostat, une_rt_a [extracted 20.5.2019].).

 

Unemployment rate (aged 15-24 and 25-64) by education attainment level in 2008-18

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_urgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Unemployment is distributed unevenly between those with low- and high-level qualifications. However, the youth unemployment rate of people with medium-level qualifications, including most VET graduates (ISCED levels 3 and 4) is lower than for those with high-level qualifications.

In 2018, youth unemployment in Portugal was 20.3% (3.6% less than in 2017, but still well above the EU28 average) ([18]Eurostat, table tesem140 [extracted 10.4.2019].).

Employment rate of recent VET graduates increased from 75.1% in 2014 to 84.6% in 2018. Since 2015, the employment rate of VET graduates has been higher than the one of general education graduates.

 

Employment rate of VET graduates (20 to 34 years old, ISCED levels 3 and 4)

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

The increase in employment of 20-34 year-old VET graduates in 2014-18 (+9.5 pp) was higher compared to the increase in employment of all 20-34 year-old graduates (+8.3 pp) in the same period in Portugal ([19]NB: Breaks in series. Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

Education attainment in Portugal is traditionally lower than the EU average. The share of people with low-level or no qualification was decreased from 73.7% in 2005 to 50.2% in 2018, but is still the highest in EU. The share of those with medium-level qualifications, although it has significantly increased, is still the second lowest in EU.

 

Population (aged 25 to 64) by highest education level attained in 2018

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; low reliability for ‘No response’ in Iceland, Czech Republic, Poland and Latvia.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_pgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower secondary

upper secondary

post-secondary

8.0%

40.7%

100%

Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs01, educ_uoe_enrs04 and educ_uoe_enrs07 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Share of initial VET learners from total learners at upper-secondary level (ISCED level 3), 2017

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011. Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs04 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Traditionally, there are more males in VET programmes (58.9%), except in the specialised art programmes where in 2016/17 71.5% of learners were females ([20]DGEEC (2018).
Perfil do aluno 2016/2017, pp. 86, 119.
).

Among VET programmes, Professional programmes have the highest percentage of female learners (32.7%).

Post-secondary non-tertiary VET has an even higher rate of males (66.9%) than secondary VET.

Early leaving from education and training has been steadily decreasing from 30.9% in 2009 to 11.8% in 2018. It is still above the national target for 2020 of not more than 10% and the EU-28 average of 10.6%.

 

Early leavers from education and training in 2009-18

NB: Share of the population aged 18 to 24 with at most lower secondary education and not in further education or training; break in series.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_14 [extracted 16.5.2019] and European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/info/2018-european-semester-national-reform-programmes-and-stability-convergence-programmes_en [accessed 14.11.2018].

 

Lifelong learning offers training opportunities for adults including adult education and training programmes, certified modular training, and recognition of prior learning (Recognition, validation and certification of competences process - RVCC).

 

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-18

NB: Share of adult population aged 25 to 64 participating in education and training.
Source: Eurostat, trng_lfse_01 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Participation in lifelong learning had been decreasing during the period 2011-13 (economic crisis), while since 2014 has been steady and close to the EU average.

Regarding adults, participation in VET is rising. 27.5% of those enrolled in education/ training programmes are in the process of recognition of prior learning ([21]Recognition of prior learning - Recognition, validation and certification of competences process (RVCC).), which represents a rise of 7.8%; the Education and training programmes for adults (EFA) remain adults’ main option (59.9%).

Information not available

The education and training system comprises:

  • preschool education (ISCED level 0);
  • basic education (nine years) organised into three cycles integrating primary and lower secondary education (ISCED level 1 and 2);
  • upper secondary education (ISCED level 3);
  • post-secondary non-tertiary education (ISCED level 4);
  • tertiary education (ISCED levels 6, 7 and 8).

Pre-school education is optional and covers children from three to six years old.

Compulsory education lasts 12 school years and starts at the age of six until 18 years old. It comprises basic education that includes nine years of studies until age 15. It is organised into three cycles; the four-year first cycle and the two-year second cycle constitute primary education, while the three-year third cycle corresponds to lower secondary education.

Upper secondary education comprises general (science and humanities) and VET programmes. These three-year programmes give graduates access to tertiary education but also to post-secondary non-tertiary. Permeability is ensured between both paths.

Tertiary education is provided by universities and polytechnics. Pre-conditions to enter tertiary education include successful completion of an upper secondary programme or a similar qualification level, admission exams and specific requirements concerning the area of study.

All VET programmes grant double certification (an education certificate and a professional qualification):

  • at lower secondary level, education and training

programmes targeting those aged 15+ who are at risk of early leaving; they are school-based and include practical training;

  • at upper secondary level, there are three types of school-based VET programme combining general or sociocultural training components, science and technological training with work-based learning (WBL);
  • at post-secondary non-tertiary level, technological specialisation programmes last from one to one-and-a-half years and incorporate WBL;
  • at tertiary level, two-year high professional technical courses are offered by polytechnics (including internship).

Regarding upskilling adults the following programmes exist:

  • adult education and training programmes targeting learners who want to complete lower or upper secondary education and/or obtain a professional qualification;
  • certified modular training;

recognition of prior learning (recognition, validation and certification of competences, RVCC). The two RVCC paths (academic and professional) can lead to either a lower or upper secondary education certificate or a professional qualification ([22]Information taken from the forthcoming Cedefop publication on spotlights compilation (2019).).

Apprenticeship programmes are for young people up to age 25. Programmes include 40% WBL. A training contract between the apprentice and the enterprise (training provider) must be signed ([23]Information taken from the forthcoming Cedefop publication on spotlights compilation (2019).). Curricula are organised in training components: socio-cultural, scientific, technological and practical training in a work environment (WBL) ([24]https://www.refernet.pt/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Apprenticeship_programmes.pdf). A double certification including a professional qualification and a 12th year school leaving diploma at EQF level 4 (ISCED 354) is granted upon successful completion of the programme.

The central government has overall responsibility for VET. The education ministry is responsible for school-based programmes, the higher education ministry for tertiary education, and the labour ministry for apprenticeship programmes, continuing vocational training and carrying out active labour market measures.

The SNQ ([25]National Qualifications System (Sistema Nacional de Qualificações - SNQ).), launched in 2007 and revised in January 2017, is the framework of VET; it is coordinated by ANQEP ([26]Agência Nacional para a Qualificação e o Ensino professional (National Agency for Qualification and VET).
) and comprises the main VET stakeholders. SNQ has reorganised VET into a single system. It is based on a balanced relationship between VET within the educational system and VET in the labour market. It has established common objectives, instruments, and complementary tools supporting the implementation of:

  • National Qualifications Framework ([27]Quadro Nacional de Qualificações (QNQ).);
  • National Qualifications Catalogue ([28]Catálogo Nacional de Qualificações (CNQ):
    http://www.catalogo.anqep.gov.pt/Home/CNQ/
    ): a strategic tool to manage and regulate non-higher VET;
  • National Credit System for VET (Sistema nacional de créditos do EFP);
  • An instrument for Guidance and Individual Record of Qualifications and competences.

Under the SNQ successful completion of VET programmes grants a double certification.

VET is almost entirely funded by public funding through contributions from the state budget, the social security budget and the European Social Fund (ESF). However, the Autonomous Regions of Madeira and Azores, and the municipalities also contribute with funds, as well as the European Social Fund (ESF).

Spending on education has been reduced since 2013, but is slightly above the EU-28 average. General government expenditure on education, in 2016, was 4.9% of GDP (reduced by 1 p.p. since 2013) and 10.8% of total government spending (EU averages were 4.7% and 10.2% respectively). Secondary education takes the highest share of general government expenditure on education (35.4%), followed by pre-primary and primary education (31.4%) and higher education (12.9%). The annual expenditure in Portuguese educational institutions per student is below the EU average ([29]European Commission (2018). Education and training monitor 2018.
https://ec.europa.eu/education/sites/education/files/document-library-docs/volume-1-2018-education-and-training-monitor-country-analysis.pdf
).

 

Public expenditure on education, EU28 and Portugal, 2016 (%)

Source: European Commission (2018). Education and training monitor 2018. https://ec.europa.eu/education/sites/education/files/document-library-docs/volume-1-2018-education-and-training-monitor-country-analysis.pdf

 

In VET, there are:

  • VET teachers;
  • school-based trainers;
  • in-company trainers (nationally referred as tutors)
  • technicians of guidance, recognition and validation of competences ([30]Recognition of prior learning - Recognition, validation and certification of competences process (RVCC).);
  • social and personal mediators.

VET teachers are usually responsible for the sociocultural and scientific training components of VET programmes. A master’s degree is the minimum academic qualification for the teaching profession. Access to the teaching profession in the public sector is done via national competition, based on academic qualifications and work experience. Applicants have to pass knowledge and competences exams and undergo a subsequent probationary period.

The school-based trainer profession is regulated by 2011 legislation ([31]Portaria (Ordinance) n.º 214/2011, de 30 de maio. Note that the legislation does not differentiate the place of work. Cedefop uses school-based trainer for international comparison reasons.), which made initial pedagogical training of trainers compulsory. Although the minimum length of the initial pedagogical training is 90 hours, a training framework of 10-hour modules introduced more flexibility, allowing a more versatile offer adaptable to the needs of each candidate.

The basic requirements for trainers are:

  • an initial pedagogical training certification; and
  • a higher education degree in relevant scientific, technical, technological and practical training; or
  • training (in components, units or modules) oriented towards competences based on operational/work capacity, provided that trainers hold qualifications equal to the qualification to be granted to learners, and that they have at least five years of proven professional experience.

In-company trainers are professionals that work in the enterprises; there is no specific regulation for their role. In-company trainers should be selected among workers whose professional and pedagogical competences are recognised by the enterprise. In-company trainers are responsible for implementing learner individual activity plan, for assuring learner’s integration in the labour environment, and for assessing the learner; they are also the link between the enterprise and the VET institution. Each in-company trainer may accompany simultaneously up to five learners.

Technicians of guidance, recognition and validation of competences work in Qualifica centres ([32]Qualifica centres target people over 18 years old who are seeking a qualification and, exceptionally, young NEETs; they initiate and develop RVCC.). They must have a higher education degree and experience in one of the following areas: education or professional guidance, and methodologies for monitoring the learning development of young people and adults ([33]Portaria (Ordinance) n.º 232/2016, de 29 de agosto.). They are responsible for hosting RVCC candidates providing information and guidance; they are also responsible for the diagnosis of their needs.

Social and personal mediators work in institutions providing EFA programmes/courses ([34]Adult education and training (EFA) programmes target learners who want to complete lower or upper secondary education and/or obtain a professional qualification at EQF 2 to 4.
).Trainers or guidance professionals, holders of higher education qualifications and training to perform the role of mediator or relevant experience on adult education and training can fulfil the tasks of a mediator ([35]Portaria (Ordinance) n.º 230/2008, de 7 de março.). They are responsible for recruiting and selecting learners and supporting them with personal, social and pedagogical issues; they also participate in the analysis and evaluation of each learner’s profile and help them identify the most appropriate adult education and training offer.

Teacher Continuing professional development (CPD) is mandatory for their career progression ([36]Decreto-Lei (Decree-Law) n.º 22/2014, de 11 de fevereiro.). There are different CPD types such as training courses with variable length, workshops, internships and projects accredited by the authority body ([37]Conselho Científico-Pedagógico da Formação Contínua (CCPFC).). The offers can be provided by higher education institutions; training centres run by school associations ([38]Centros de Formação de Associação de Escolas (CFAE).) or run by non-profit scientific associations; central services of the education ministry; public, private or cooperative associations accredited. For career progression, it is required the participation in one-fifth of the total number of hours of compulsory training in the respective career echelon.

School-based trainer CPD is also ruled by the 2011 legislation ([39]See footnote 31.
). Trainers that want to teach socio-cultural and scientific components of VET programmes included in the SNQ are required to hold the same qualifications as teachers do.

Continuous training of trainers is based on several referential/standards of competences, organised in a modular structure path with flexible length. It may include one or more of the following dimensions:

  • pedagogical: modules aim at improving, deepening or diversifying the competences of trainers. They may also include critical reflection and reinforcement of competences acquired at the initial pedagogical training in organisational, practical, deontological and ethical issues;
  • scientific and/or technological: modules aim at guaranteeing a permanent updating of the trainer’s knowledge and skills in their specific area of intervention, taking into account the constant technical and organisational changes occurring in the labour market, and;
  • operational research: modules directed to the analysis, research and optimisation of referential/standards, models, processes and training methods, ensuring their transferability or application in different contexts, with special focus on WBL.

Trainer CPD is organised into units of 10 hours (or multiples of 10 hours), structured according to its training standard. Seminars, technical meetings, workshops or similar events may have a shorter duration, but can be recognised and used for career advancement.

Launched in March 2015, the system for anticipating qualification needs (SANQ) ([40]Sistema de Antecipação de Necessidades de Qualificações (SANQ):
http://sanq.anqep.gov.pt/?page_id=23
), currently running under the supervision of ANQEP ([41]Agência Nacional para a Qualificação e o Ensino professional (National Agency for Qualification and VET).
), allows for anticipating the future needs of the labour market. It also sheds light into the priority areas and job opportunities in VET. SANQ has been strengthened, namely through the diversity of analysed data and the involvement of a significant and representative number of stakeholders at regional/local level.

IEFP ([42]Instituto do Emprego e Formação Profissional (Institute for Employment and Vocational Training).) has been also developing annual lists aiming to enable VET programmes meet the real needs of the labour market. The List of priorities for VET 2018-19 ([43]https://www.iefp.pt/documents/10181/227378/2018-02-22+-+Sa%C3%ADdas+profissionais_Prioridade+IEFP+2018-2019.pdf/e330d255-9061-4210-bd30-3155c608bae4) at regional and local level is available online and intends to identify a set of areas and vocational opportunities in line with the priorities of the economy, to upskill professionals, to promote the competitiveness of Portuguese enterprises, and to promote the creation of high-skilled jobs.

Sector Councils for Qualification (CSQ), coordinated by ANQEP, are also responsible for regularly identifying the developments and changes regarding skill needs in different sectors. They are technical and consultative working groups; their role is mainly strategic and ensures the active and regular participation of the relevant economic and social stakeholders.

The following instruments also contribute in developing an integrated system to anticipate skills demand and supply:

  • the Integrated System for Information and Management of Education and Training (SIGO) is a platform that stores all data concerning education and training programmes for young people and adults. It is a key instrument for managing and monitoring training actions and issuing training certificates;
  • the Industrial Relations Centre (Centro de Relações Laborais - CRL) is a tripartite technical entity that provides information, promotes discussions and creates conditions for better employment policies with an open perspective about social and labour context, always taking into account the improvement of professional qualifications, employability, and collective bargaining. CRL has administrative autonomy and legal personality, but functions under the labour ministry. It is equally composed of representatives of the Government, the confederations of employers and the trade unions; it intends to improve the interaction between these bodies and to engage the scientific community.

See also Cedefop’s skills forecast ([44]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/skills-forecast)

2017 legislation ([45]Decreto-Lei (Decree-Law) n.º 14/2017 de 26 de janeiro:
https://dre.pt/application/file/a/105808732
) reinforces the importance of SANQ ([46]Sistema de Antecipação de Necessidades de Qualificações (SANQ):
http://sanq.anqep.gov.pt/?page_id=23
) in designing and updating qualifications in the CNQ ([47]Catálogo nacional de qualificações (CNQ) (National qualifications catalogue).). SANQ influences mostly the number and the design of VET programmes and courses, in order labour market needs to be addressed at regional level.

Upper secondary school-based VET programmes under the responsibility of the education ministry and professional training provided by the Public Employment Services of IEFP ([48]Instituto do Emprego e Formação Profissional (Institute for Employment and Vocational Training).) are independent of the SANQ output.

The National Qualifications Catalogue (CNQ) ([49]http://www.catalogo.anqep.gov.pt/Home/CNQ/) was launched in 2008. It is designed as a tool of strategic management of the qualifications framework for VET at non-tertiary level that helps regulate VET provision leading to double certification. One of its main objectives is to elaborate qualifications standards and key competences needed for the competitiveness and modernisation of the economy and for the personal and social development of individuals. The qualifications in the CNQ are organised by certification level training areas. In 2018, the CNQ included 310 qualifications in 41 areas of education and training.

Each standard for qualification of CNQ is composed by:

  • a professional profile comprising the work activities associated with the qualifications, as well as the knowledge and skills (professional, personal and social) needed to perform these activities;
  • a training framework establishing the content as well as the information needed to organise provision according to the framework of competences leading to double certification. It consists of a basic training component (school oriented) and a technological training component organised by autonomously certifiable units of short duration (from 25 to 50 hours), allowing for flexible qualification paths and permeability between the same area of education and training;
  • a framework for RVCC ([50]Recognition of prior learning - Recognition, validation and certification of competences process (RVCC).) of either formally or informally acquired competences helps guiding a candidate in a qualification path according to his/her needs and leads to the acquisition of a certificate (at the level of basic or secondary education) and/or a training certificate (at EQF level 2 or 4).

The open consultation process ([51]Modelo aberto de consulta (open consultation process):
http://www.catalogo.anqep.gov.pt/Home/MAC
) is another mechanism that allows entities to participate in updating the CNQ through the revision, integration and/or exclusion of qualifications from the CNQ, as well as changing a professional profile or training reference and a standard of RVCC. The process endows the Catalogue with a greater dynamism and widens the debate around qualifications needs. Stakeholders can submit on-line their proposals. If the proposal concerns a new qualification, and if it is accepted, a three-stage process takes place leading to the publication of the new qualification in the official Bulletin for Labour and Employment ([52]http://bte.gep.msess.gov.pt/). Finally, the new qualification will be integrated into the CNQ and will be made available online given it fulfils specific criteria.

Sector Councils for Qualifications (CSQ) support the update and development of CNQ by presenting or analysing proposals for the revision, integration and exclusion of qualifications from the CNQ. They are expanded technical and consultative working groups involving stakeholders such as representatives of ministries, social partners, enterprises and training providers. CSQ are responsible for:

  • identifying the needs for qualifications and competences that respond to these changes;
  • presenting the appropriate proposals for updating and developing the CNQ;
  • analysing and advising on external proposals for updating and developing CNQ;
  • supporting the design of qualifications;
  • facilitating the cooperation, co-responsibility among the relevant bodies of each economic sector aiming to promote the development of innovative solutions for better competences and qualifications, and;
  • identifying technical and methodological competences to support ANQEP ([53]Agência Nacional para a Qualificação e o Ensino professional (National Agency for Qualification and VET).
    ) in the processes of updating and developing the CNQ.

DGERT ([54]Direção-Geral do Emprego e Relações Profissionais (General Directorate for Employment and Industrial Relations)
) is responsible for the accreditation ([55]Portaria (Ordinance) n.º 208/2013, de 26 de junho.) of VET providers (nationally referred to as certification) ([56]See also:
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/news-and-press/news/portugal-certification-training-providers
). Education providers under the responsibility of the education ministry are exempt from accreditation.

Accreditation process

The requirements for the accreditation of VET providers are divided into two groups:

  • prerequisites: To apply for accreditation, VET providers should meet essential legal conditions;
  • quality requirements: The quality requirements of VET providers refer to:
  • the internal structure and organisation (human resources, facilities and equipment) of the provider;
  • the development process of training programmes (planning, design, organisation, development and training assessment);
  • assessment of outcomes and continuous improvement (post-training follow-up, annual assessment of results, constant improvement measures).

Initial accreditation

VET providers should define the training or education programme which will be under evaluation and self-evaluate its structure and practices against the quality standards. Subsequently providers submit an electronic request for accreditation to DGERT, which can then carry out evaluation (technical, documentary or audit-supported) to certify that they can develop a training programme in a specific thematic area. As long as accredited VET providers meet requirements, they can develop a new training offer and request extension of their certification to other education or training thematic areas

Maintaining accreditation

Maintaining accreditation is regularly assessed by DGERT through audits considering the results of providers’ training activity. DGERT follows the general criteria ([57]https://certifica.dgert.gov.pt/processo-de-certificacao1/manter-a-certificacao/auditoria-de-manutencao.aspx):

  • date of the initial accreditation;
  • signalling of changes in the structure or training activity;
  • signalling of complaints received by DGERT;

Accreditation benefits

  • quality accreditation;
  • training diploma referenced to national qualifications system;
  • access to national or community public funding programmes for vocational training;
  • tax exemption on VAT for training products and services;
  • deduction of training expenses in individual income tax.

 

Another national approach to improve quality assurance in VET and related WBL has been devised using the EQAVET framework. VET providers have been aligning their quality assurance approaches to the EQAVET framework and the overall objective is that, when the quality assurance approach is fully implemented, all VET providers can adopt it and be awarded a quality label based on EQAVET quality criteria and indicative descriptors. This plan will be gradually carried out until 2020.

Recognition of prior learning (recognition, validation and certification of competences process - RVCC) comprises the identification of formal, non-formal and informal competences developed throughout life; through the development of specific activities and the application of a set of appropriate evaluation tools. Adults may start this process at any time at a Qualifica centre ([58]Qualifica centres target young people (aged 15 or older), provide guidance and counselling especially for NEETs and initiate and develop RVCC processes for low-skilled adults.).

RVCC process has two distinct paths: the education and the professional.

To access educational or professional RVCC processes, candidates must be at least 18 years old and possess sufficient knowledge in relation to the key competence and the professional competence framework. 23-years old or younger candidates must also submit proof of a minimum of three years professional experience via a statement issued by the relevant social security office.

One of the tools used in the RVCC process to evaluate the candidates is the reflective learning portfolio (portefólio reflexivo). It is a written record of the candidate's competences acquired throughout life; it also presents a critical appraisal of their knowledge, competence development, prior experience, and education. It includes all relevant supporting documentation linked to the different areas of the portfolio. Validation of these competences is done under the referential framework of key competences elaborated by ANQEP ([59]Agência Nacional para a Qualificação e o Ensino professional (National Agency for Qualification and VET).
).

A jury appointed by a Qualifica Centre does the certification of competences after the evaluation of the candidate. It can include written, oral or practical evaluation, or a combination of the three, that can be organised by key competences areas in the case of the education path, or by professional competences in the case of the professional path.

Candidates can obtain a full certification (when they have proven that they possess all the competence units of the standard) or a partial certification. In the education path, a full certification enables the candidate to obtain a certificate of basic education (4, 6 or 9 years of schooling) or upper-secondary education (12 years of schooling) corresponding to EQF levels 1 to 4. In the professional path, a full certification testifies that the candidate holds the competences of specific professional standard at EQF level 2 and 4. Partial certifications allow the candidate to attend the remaining training to obtain a qualification.

These processes are under the responsibility of the Qualifica Centres, managed by ANQEP. Currently there are around 290 centres spread all over the country.

Participation in RVCC processes in 2017 was 11.1% when compared with all adults enrolled in VET offers.

For more information about arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning please visit Cedefop’s European database ([60]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/european-database-on-validation-of-non-formal-and-informal-learning).

Allowances, grants and scholarships target learners with low income. The Operational Programme for Human Capital (Programa Operacional Capital Humano – POCH) foresees financial incentives for VET learners. Learners receive these incentives through VET providers. Incentives for VET learners are:

  • a scholarship received by learners during the WBL period (subject to learner’s attendance);
  • study material (Bolsa de material de estudo);
  • travel allowance;
  • accommodation subsidies for learners living more than 50km away from the VET provider premises;
  • food/ meals subsidies.

The most relevant funding for VET programmes and VET providers, including enterprises, is the Operational Programme for Human Capital (Programa Operacional Capital Humano - POCH), complemented by some actions of the Operational Programme for Employment and Social Inclusion (Programa Operacional Inclusão Social e Emprego - POISE). Moreover, VET support for employed adults is carried out by enterprises under the monitoring and evaluation of the Operational Programme for Competitiveness and Internationalisation (POCI/COMPETE 2020). These operational programmes fall under Portugal 2020 ([61]https://www.portugal2020.pt/Portal2020), a partnership agreement adopted between Portugal and the European Commission, which brings together the work of the five European structural and investment funds, including ESF.

Formal guidance is provided by professionals at schools, IEFP ([62]Training Instituto do Emprego e Formação Profissional (Institute for Employment and Vocational).
) public employment services and Qualifica Centres ([63]Qualifica centres target people over 18 years old who are seeking a qualification and, exceptionally, young NEETs; they initiate and develop recognition, validation and certification of competences process (RVCC).).

School psychology and counselling services develop their activity in the psycho-pedagogical field supporting learners and teachers in developing school community relationships and in providing lifelong guidance. They work in an integrated way and in close contact with the educational community, teachers, non-teaching staff, parents, caregivers, and other educational agents in the surrounding area.

The IEFP has a network of Professional Integration Offices (Gabinetes de inserção profissional - GIP) supported by public and private non-profit organisations. GIPs are accredited to provide support to unemployed young people and adults to (re)-enter labour market in close cooperation with employment services; they also promote VET awareness. IEFP also runs an online platform ( Vi@s), which provides information, allows users to interact and eases users in managing their career. It also supports guidance professionals, teachers and parents.

The main objectives of Qualifica Centres are to:

  • Inform and guide individuals to VET programmes that best fit their profiles, needs, motivations and expectations;
  • initiate and develop Recognition, validation and certification of competences processes (RVCC);
  • increase awareness among young people, adults, and enterprises/employers about lifelong learning.

Please also see:

Vocational education and training system chart

Tertiary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 5

CTeSP

2 years,

WBL =/> 25%

ISCED 554

Higher professional technical programmes (cursos técnicos superiores profissionais - CTeSP) leading to EQF level 5, ISCED 554
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

554 ([85a]According to Deliberação n.º 343/2017, de 2 de maio de 2017. http://dre.pt/application/file/a/106931970 
).

Usual entry grade

12+

Usual entry age

18

Length of a programme (years)

2 (four academic semesters)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Not applicable

Is it offered free of charge?

N

In public higher education the value of the fees is set according to each programmes and with a minimum amount corresponding to 1.3 of the national minimum wage and a maximum calculated on the basis of the consumer price index ([84]https://www.dges.gov.pt/pt/pagina/propinas?plid=371).

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Graduates are credited 120 ECTS points (practical training lasts at least one semester and grants 30 ECTS points)

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

These programmes comprise school-based general, scientific and technical components, and practical training which takes place through an internship

Main providers

These programmes are provided by polytechnic institutions

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>= 25%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • internship.
Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and adults.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

To enter CTeSP programmes learners must have:

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete a CTeSP programme, learners need to succeed in the final examinations of the subjects and achieve the number of ECTS required.

Diplomas/certificates provided

These programmes lead to a Diploma of Higher Professional Technician at EQF level 5 (not a higher education degree)

Examples of qualifications

Information not available

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

CTeSP graduates can access the 1st cycle of higher education programmes or integrated master programmes through specific application procedures, leading to a higher education degree.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

These programmes comprise general and scientific training components

Key competences

Y

These comprise general and scientific training components

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

Post-secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 5

CET

1-1.5 years,

WBL 30-46%

ISCED 454

Technological specialisation programmes (cursos de especialização tecnológica - CET) leading to EQF level 5, ISCED 454
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

454

Usual entry grade

12+

Usual completion grade


Usual entry age

18

Usual completion age

19-20

Length of a programme (years)

1 to 1.5 years (from 1 200 to 1 560 hours)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

It depends on the training provider. Whenever the training provider applies to public funding the CET programmes are free of charge.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Through agreements with higher tertiary institutions CET graduates are credited 60 to 90 ECTS points

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

CET programmes comprise general, scientific and technological training components and WBL:

  • general and scientific - aims at developing attitudes and behaviours appropriate for higher level qualification professionals, adaptability to the labour and corporate world; and improving, if needed, the scientific knowledge related with the specific technological field of study.
  • technological - integrates areas of a technological nature oriented to the understanding of practical activities and to the resolution of problems in the professional practice.
  • WBL - aims at applying the knowledge and know-how acquired to the practical activities of the respective professional profile; and performing tasks under guidance, using the techniques, equipment and materials that are integrated in the production processes of goods or services. The WBL can adopt different types of practical training in a real work context, namely internships and it is developed through partnership.
Main providers

These programmes are provided by public, private and cooperative schools, vocational training centres direct or jointly managed by IEFP([83]Instituto do Emprego e Formação Profissional (Institute for Employment and Vocational Training).), technological schools and other training providers certified by the labour ministry

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

30% to 46%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training at school
  • in-company practice
Main target groups

CET programmes are available for young people and adults.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

To enter CET programmes learners must have:

  • an upper secondary qualification (EQF level 4); or
  • successfully completed all school subjects of the 10th and 11th years and have been enrolled in the 12th year but not completed it; or
  • a professional qualification at EQF level 3 or 4, or;
  • a specialisation technological certificate or a higher education degree and wishing to have a professional requalification.
Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete a CET programme, learners need to pass formative and summative assessments according to the professional competences that the technological specialisation diploma certifies. A CET graduate is the one who has been approved in all their training components including the practical part.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Graduates receive a qualification at EQF level 5 (ISCED 454) and a technological specialisation diploma called Diploma de Especialização Tecnológica (DET).

Examples of qualifications

Training is offered in various fields such as computer science, trade, electronics and automation, and tourism and recreation.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

The CET diploma allows learners to apply to higher education through a special admission procedure determined by a broader regulatory framework, provided that they meet the entry requirements set by each academic institution.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

These programmes comprise general and scientific training components.

Key competences

Y

These programmes comprise general and scientific training components.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 2

CEF programmes for >15 years-olds,

3 years,

WBL 17%

ISCED 254

Education and training programmes for young people (cursos de educação e formação de jovens - CEF) including four types of initial VET programmes leading to EQF level 2, ISCED 254
EQF level
2
ISCED-P 2011 level

254

Usual entry grade

7

Usual completion grade

9

Usual entry age

15 (minimum)

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

3

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

In 2009, compulsory education was extended to 12 years of schooling, between the age of six and 18 ([67]Lei (Law) n.º 85/2009, de 25 de agosto.).

18

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Exempt of fees for learners under compulsory education.

Is it available for adults?

Y

The legislation does not set an age limit, but only young adults (up to the age of 21) attend it.

ECVET or other credits

Depending on the programme, the minimum of credits is 120 ([66]Article 5 of the
Portaria (Ordinance) n.º 47/2017, de 1 de fevereiro.
).

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

CEF programmes comprise four training components: sociocultural, scientific, technological and practical including a minimum of 210 hours of work-based learning (WBL) each year.

Main providers

- network of public, private and cooperative schools;

- professional schools;

- IEFP ([68]Instituto do Emprego e Formação Profissional (Institute for Employment and Vocational Training).) vocational training centres (directly and jointly managed);

- accredited training providers; linked with community entities, namely local authorities, enterprises or business organisations, other social partners and local or regional associations, set up by protocols aimed at maximising physical structures and human and material resources.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

17%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training at school
  • in-company practice
Main target groups

The aim of these programmes is to reduce the high number of early school leavers. Learners must be 15 or more years old and without a lower secondary education qualification.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Learners must have completed only the first cycle of basic education (four years) and be at least 15 years old.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Learners’ assessment is carried out per subject/area and per training component. Assessment is formative and summative and includes a final test comprising a professional performance presentation in front of a jury, with one or more practical works related with the most relevant knowledge and skills included in the programme profile

Diplomas/certificates provided

Successful completion of a CEF leads to a double certification: an education certificate (3rd cycle of lower secondary education certificate at EQF level 2 ISCED 254) and a professional qualification. A learner that only completed the 2nd cycle of basic education receives a certificate of EQF level 1 and a professional qualification.

Examples of qualifications

Training is offered in various fields, such as crafts, computer sciences, environmental protection, accounting, management, beauty care, domestic services, therapy and rehabilitation, electronics, food industry, metallurgy.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Progression is allowed to upper secondary education and to higher level CEF programmes after meeting certain requirements

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

Two of the four training components of CEF programmes is the sociocultural (including Portuguese; foreigner language; and, ICT) and the scientific (including applied sciences, including mathematic).

Key competences

Y

Two of the four training components of CEF programmes is the sociocultural (including Portuguese; foreigner language; and, ICT) and the scientific (with applied sciences, including mathematic).

Application of learning outcomes approach

information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

6.9% of all VET learners in lower and upper secondary education were in these programmes ([69]DGEEC (2018). Estatísticas da Educação 2016/2017: jovens [Education statistics 2016/17: young people].
http://www.dgeec.mec.pt/np4/96/%7B$clientServletPath%7D/?newsId=145&fileName=DGEEC_DSEE_DEEBS_2018_EE20162017_Jovens.pdf
)

EQF 4

CEF 1-3 years,

WBL 15-19%

ISCED 354

Education and training programmes for young people (cursos de educação e formação de jovens - CEF). Including three types of initial VET programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

1 to 3 years (from 1 125 to 2 276 hours)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

In 2009, compulsory education was extended to 12 years of schooling, between the age of six and 18 ([71]Lei (Law) n.º 85/2009, de 25 de agosto.).

18

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Exempt of fees for learners under compulsory education.

Is it available for adults?

Y

The legislation does not set an age limit, but only young adults (up to the age of 21) attend it.

ECVET or other credits

Depending on the programme, the minimum of credits is 180 ([70]Article 6 of the
Portaria (Ordinance) n.º 47/2017, de 1 de fevereiro.
).

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

These programmes combine sociocultural, scientific and technological school-based training with work-based learning (WBL).

Main providers
  • network of public, private and cooperative schools;
  • professional schools;
  • IEFP vocational training centres (directly and joint managed);
  • accredited training providers; linked with community entities, namely local authorities, enterprises or business organisations, other social partners and local or regional associations, set up by protocols aimed at maximising physical structures and human and material resources.
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

15%-19%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training at school
  • in-company practice
Main target groups

These programmes aim to reduce the high number of early school leavers. They are meant to enhance learner integration into the labour market and to motivate them to continue further studies/training by providing flexible learning paths in line with their expectations and local labour market needs.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Learners should have completed basic education or lower secondary education CEF programmes.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment is formative and summative, including a final test that comprises a professional performance presentation in front of a jury, with one or more practical assessments related to the most relevant knowledge and skills included in the programme profile.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Successful completion of a CEF leads to a double certification – a professional qualification and a 12th year school leaving diploma at EQF level 4.

Examples of qualifications

Training is offered in various fields, such as crafts, computer sciences, environmental protection, accounting, management, beauty care, domestic services, therapy and rehabilitation, electronics, food industry, metallurgy.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

After being awarded a double certification, learners can continue their studies at:

  • post-secondary non-tertiatry; or
  • tertiary education.

as long as they meet the relevant access requirements.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Y

These programmes include sociocultural (including Portuguese; foreigner language; and, ICT) and scientific (including applied sciences) training components.

Key competences

Y

These programmes include sociocultural (including Portuguese; foreigner language; and, ICT) and scientific (including applied sciences) training components.

Application of learning outcomes approach

information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

0.29% ([70a]2016/2017

 
).

EQF 4

Apprenticeship

programmes,

3 years,

WBL >40%

ISCED 354

Apprenticeship programmes (cursos de aprendizagem). Initial VET programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

3 (maximum of 3 700 hours)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

In 2009, compulsory education was extended to 12 years of schooling, between the age of six and 18 ([73]Lei (Law) n.º 85/2009, de 25 de agosto.).

18

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Exempt of fees for learners under compulsory education.

Is it available for adults?

Y

The legislation does not set an age limit, but only young adults (up to the age of 25) attend it.

ECVET or other credits

Depending on the programme, the minimum of credits is 180 ([72]Article 6 of the
Portaria (Ordinance) n.º 47/2017, de 1 de fevereiro.
).

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

These programmes comprise school-based sociocultural, scientific and technological training and WBL in an enterprise.

Main providers

These programmes are provided by IEFP ([74]Instituto do Emprego e Formação Profissional (Institute for Employment and Vocational Training).) vocational training centres or private providers (e.g. employers’ associations, companies, trade unions) under protocols with IEFP.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

> 40%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • in-company practice
Main target groups

These programmes target young learners up to 25 years old.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Learners should have successfully completed the 9th year of schooling (the 3rd cycle of basic education/lower secondary education or a CEF programmes).

Assessment of learning outcomes

The assessment is formative and summative. The final evaluation test (Prova de Avaliação Final - PAF) constitutes an integrated set of practical activities at the end of the training programme that helps a jury assess the competences acquired during training.

Diplomas/certificates provided

A double certification – a professional qualification and a 12th year school leaving diploma at EQF level 4 (ISCED 354) is granted upon successful completion of the programme.

Examples of qualifications

Priority areas of training include audio-visual and media production, computer sciences, trade, construction and repair of motor vehicles, electricity and energy, electronics and automation, hospitality and catering, manufacturing of textiles, clothing, footwear and leather, metallurgy and technologies of chemical processing.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

After being awarded the double certification, learners can continue their studies at:

• post-secondary non-tertiary; or

• tertiary education.

as long as they meet the relevant requirements set by the higher education establishment for the respective field of study.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Y

These programmes include sociocultural and scientific training.

Key competences

Y

These programmes include sociocultural and scientific training.

Application of learning outcomes approach

It depends on the fields of education and training ([75]http://www.catalogo.anqep.gov.pt/Destaques/Detalhe/172).

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

14.5% ([76a]2016/2017
).

EQF 4

Professional

programmes,

3 years,

WBL 19-24%

ISCED 354

Professional programmes (cursos profissionais) leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

3 (from 3 100 to 3 440 hours)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

In 2009, compulsory education was extended to 12 years of schooling, between the age of six and 18 ([77]Lei (Law) n.º 85/2009, de 25 de agosto.).

18

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Exempt of fees for learners under compulsory education.

Is it available for adults?

Y

The legislation does not set an age limit, but only young adults (up to the age of 25) attend it.

ECVET or other credits

Depending on the programme, the minimum of credits is 180 ([76]Article 6 of the
Portaria (Ordinance) n.º 47/2017, de 1 de fevereiro.
).

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

These programmes combine the following training components:

  • sociocultural, scientific and technological training (school-based components); and
  • work-based learning (WBL) in the form of a traineeship carried out in enterprises or other organisations.
Main providers

Programmes are offered by professional, public (upper secondary) or private schools.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

19% - 24%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

The technological training component includes subjects of technological, technical and practical nature provided at school. It also includes in-company practice foreseen in an agreement between the school and the enterprise and has a minimum duration of 600 hours up to a maximum of 840 hours. The learner’s work plan, once signed, is considered an integral part of the training contract (different from a labour contract).

Main target groups

These programmes target learners that want to follow a more practical and labour market-oriented programme.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

To enrol in these programmes learners need to be between 15 and 18 years old (with exceptions foreseen by legislation) and to have completed lower secondary education.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The programme has formative and summative assessment and includes a presentation of a project called Proof of Professional Aptitude (Prova de Aptidão Profissional - PAP) in front of a jury.

Diplomas/certificates provided

They lead to a double certification – a professional qualification and a 12th year school leaving diploma

Examples of qualifications

Training fields include applied arts, business administration, computer sciences, electronics, engineering, energy, construction and architecture, food industries, health services, tourism and hospitality, etc.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can pursue further studies in Technological specialisation programmes, access higher education, upon the fulfilment of requirements foreseen in the regulations, or enter the labour market.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Y

These programmes include three general education subjects (common for all training fields): Portuguese, foreign languages and physics.

Key competences

Y

These programmes include three general education subjects (common for all training fields): Portuguese, foreign languages and physics.

Application of learning outcomes approach

It depends on the fields of education and training ([78]http://www.catalogo.anqep.gov.pt/Destaques/Detalhe/172).

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

68.7% ([79]DGEEC (2018). Estatísticas da Educação 2016/2017: jovens [Education statistics 2016/17: young people].
http://www.dgeec.mec.pt/np4/96/%7B$clientServletPath%7D/?newsId=145&fileName=DGEEC_DSEE_DEEBS_2018_EE20162017_Jovens.pdf
)

EQF 4

Art education

programmes,

3 years,

WBL varies

ISCED 344, 354

Art education programmes (cursos artísticos especializados) leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 344, 354
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

344, 354

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

3 (from 3 645 to 6 390 hours according to the training field)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

In 2009, compulsory education was extended to 12 years of schooling, between the age of six and 18 ([81]Lei (Law) n.º 85/2009, de 25 de agosto.).

18

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Exempt of fees for learners under compulsory education.

Is it available for adults?

Y

The legislation does not set an age limit, but only young adults (up to the age of 21) attend it.

ECVET or other credits

Depending on the programme, the minimum of credits is 180 ([80]Article 6 of the
Portaria (Ordinance) n.º 47/2017, de 1 de fevereiro.
).

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

These programmes combine:

  • education, science and technological training (school-based components); and
  • work-based learning (WBL) in the form of a traineeship carried out in enterprises or other organisations.
Main providers

Programmes are offered by public, private or cooperative schools

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Information not available

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

The technical-artistic component includes practical training at school and in-company practice. It is mandatory only in the third year of the programme (12th year of schooling). It is preferentially performed at the workplace, in workshops, companies or other organisations, through the transmission of know-how, by taking on occasional jobs or via an internship. It can be performed via the simulation of a set of relevant professional activities to the programme profile, developed in similar conditions to a real world working context, integrated in the school subject of the Technical-artistic training component called ‘Project and Technologies’.

Main target groups

These programmes target learners who want to have a career in the artistic field of their choice and develop their capacities and talent or to take further studies/training in one of the fields.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Learners must be at least 15 years old and completed the 3rd cycle of lower secondary education (9th year of schooling).

Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment is formative and summative, including a final test (Prova de Aptidão Artistica - PAA) that comprises a professional performance presentation in front of a jury, with one or more practical assessments related to the most relevant knowledge & skills included in the programme profile.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Successful completion of an art education programme leads to a double certification (a professional qualification and a 12th year school leaving diploma).

Examples of qualifications

The programme in the field of visual arts includes communication design, product design, and artistic production. The programme in the audio-visual field includes audio-visual communication.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Progression is possible to technological specialisation programmes (EQF level 5) or higher education (university or polytechnic), provided that learners meet the access requirements.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

These programmes have a general and a scientific training component.

Key competences

Y

These programmes have a general and a scientific training component.

Application of learning outcomes approach

information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

1.3% ([82]DGEEC (2018). Estatísticas da Educação 2016/2017: jovens [Education statistics 2016/17: young people].
http://www.dgeec.mec.pt/np4/96/%7B$clientServletPath%7D/?newsId=145&fileName=DGEEC_DSEE_DEEBS_2018_EE20162017_Jovens.pdf
)

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Programme Types
Not available

General themes

VET in Ireland comprises the following main features:

  • most VET is offered by the State, although private providers also play a role;
  • there are four sectors within the education system: (primary, secondary, further education and training (FET) and higher education. VET occurs mostly within the FET sector, meaning that it is offered mostly at post-secondary level;
  • in 2016, a reform of the apprenticeship system led to the provision of apprenticeships within higher education. VET at tertiary level was introduced in 2016 in the form of apprenticeships;
  • vocational programmes are also offered for second chance education and training (in the form of vocational training for the unemployed).

Distinctive features ([1]As there’s no edition of a spotlight on vocational education and training in Ireland for 2017, distinctive features are provided by ReferNet Ireland.):

VET in Ireland is not usually offered within the second level system (neither lower secondary (NFQ 3, EQF 2, ISCED 244) nor upper secondary (NFQ 4/5, EQF3/4 ISCED 343/344). Therefore, most learners are aged at least 16 or over; since the majority of new entrants to VET have already completed upper secondary education, they tend to be at least 18 years of age.

Until the reform in 2016, almost all apprenticeships were in the construction and, to a lesser extent, engineering sectors. The number of occupations now available for apprenticeship training has since grown and includes areas such as ICT, finance and hospitality.

Employer consultation and labour market intelligence played a key role in informing the development of new VET programmes with a view to addressing identified skills needs, including occupations in short supply, in Ireland’s economy.

The attractiveness of VET: traditionally, the number of VET learners in Ireland has been small, which is due in part to the fact that the preference for many learners on leaving compulsory education is for higher education. While major policy documents (e.g. National Skills Strategy 2025 and the Further Education and Training Strategy, both published by the Department of Education and Skills) outline ambitions to address and increase the standing of VET in Ireland, such changes take time to implement as they often involve shifts in culture and values.

Participation in lifelong learning: although improving, the lifelong learning rate in Ireland (at 13%) remains lower than the EU 2020 target of 15%. Particular challenges, which are not unique to Ireland, include encouraging participation among older workers and those with low education attainment. Those with lower secondary education attainment or below, had a lifelong learning participation rate of 4%, compared to 26% for those with postgraduate qualifications (i.e. ISCED level 6/EQF 7-8). Similarly, those aged 55-64 had a participation rate of 9% compared to 19% for those aged 25-34.

New programmes in the FET system (not including apprenticeship) aim to attract learners into employment in low skill occupations/sectors and to engage in learning activities aimed at upskilling/reskilling (e.g. Skills to Advance programme), although the full impact of these new programmes has yet to be reflected in the data.

Data from VET in Ireland Spotlight (2017) ([2]As there’s no edition of a spotlight on vocational education and training in Ireland for 2017, information on main challenges and policy responses is provided by ReferNet Ireland.)

Population in 2018: 4 830 392 ([3]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].)

It increased by 4.8% since 2013 ([4]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].). This is due to an increase in inward migration, as well as a growth in the number of births in recent years (which was greater than the number of deaths).

As in many other EU countries, the population is ageing.

The old-age-dependency ratio is expected to increase from 20 in 2015 to 45 in 2060 ([5]Old-age-dependency ratio is defined as the ratio between the number of persons aged 65 and more over the number of working-age persons (15-64 ). The value is expressed per 100 persons of working age (15-64).).

 

Population forecast by age group and old-age-dependency ratio

Source: Eurostat, proj_15ndbims [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

The cohort of those aged 5 to 19 increased from 2012 to 2017 due mainly to an increase in the number of births in recent years. As many learners enter the VET system from the age of 18 onwards, it is likely that the increase in this cohort will impact on the number of upper secondary school completers entering the VET system, and increase the demand for places across all sectors of the education and training system, including VET.

Not applicable

In Ireland, 99% of enterprises are micro enterprises (fewer than 10 employees). However, in terms of the number of persons engaged, 27% are in micro enterprises, 22% are in small enterprises, 20% are in medium enterprises, and 32% are in large enterprises ([6]Central Statistics Office: business demography (latest data: 2016):
https://cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/bd/businessdemography2016/
).

The main economic sectors in terms of employment are:

  • wholesale and retail;
  • human health;
  • industry;
  • education;
  • accommodation and food;
  • professional activities, etc.;
  • construction;
  • agriculture;
  • public administration and defence;
  • transportation;
  • ICT;
  • administrative activities.

 

Employment by sector (000s), quarter 4 2017

Source: SLMRU (SOLAS) analysis of CSO data.

 

These sectors are not linked to VET qualifications.

The main sectors associated with VET qualifications are construction, industry, and more recently and to a lesser extent, ICT, transportation, accommodation and food (i.e. hospitality), and finance.

In terms of labour market regulation ([7]In terms of the FET sector as a whole (general and VET), 84% of employers have indicated that they are happy with the quality of FET graduates. Source: HEA; SOLAS; QQI (2019). Irish national employer survey: final report, January 2019.
https://hea.ie/assets/uploads/2019/01/21-01-19-J8961-Irish-National-Employer-Survey-Final-Report.pdf
), Ireland’s regulatory framework has more in common with other flexible labour markets such as those of the United Kingdom or Denmark than with labour markets such as France and Germany. There are comparatively few occupations for which a VET qualification is a prerequisite for employment (notable exceptions include electrician, gas installer). Based on a set of labour regulation indicators (e.g. hiring, working hours, redundancy rules and costs), Ireland was ranked in 2018 by the Lithuanian Free Market Institute (LFMI) ([8]Lithuanian Free Market Institute (2017). Employment flexibility index 2018: EU and OECD countries.
https://en.llri.lt/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Employment-Flexibility-Index-2018_-LFMI.pdf
) employment flexibility index as one of the most flexible labour markets in the EU. This is illustrated in a number of indicators, including, among others, the fact that in Ireland:

  • there are no restrictions on the duration of fixed-term contracts, except for minimum wage contracts;
  • there is no restriction on overtime, night work and work on a weekly holiday;
  • there are no restrictions on redundancy rules; although redundancy dismissals are allowed by law, there is a requirement to notify and consult a third party before dismissing a group of nine redundant employees.

Ireland however has a minimum statutory minimum wage.

Total unemployment ([9]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.) (2018): 4.7% (6% in EU-28); it decreased by 0.6 percentage points since 2008 ([10]Eurostat table une_rt_a [extracted 20.5.2019].).

 

Unemployment rate (aged 15-24 and 25-64) by education attainment level in 2008-18

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_urgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

At 14%, those with post-secondary non-tertiary education attainment (where most VET graduates are classified) are one of the smallest groups in Ireland’s labour force, as the figure below demonstrates ([11]Source: CSO (QNHS) supplementary tables. In Ireland, there are two types of bachelor degree: an honours bachelor degree (NFQ 8) or an ordinary bachelor degree (NFQ 7). Both honours and ordinary bachelor degrees have been referenced to the European qualifications framework at EQF level 6.). Almost half (47%) of the labour force holds a tertiary (or third) level qualification (NFQ 6-10/EQF5-8, ISCED 544-864).

 

Ireland’s labour force (000s) by highest level of education

Source: CSO (QNHS) supplementary tables.

 

Employment rate of 20 to 34 year-old VET graduates increased from 69.0% in 2014 to 78.1% in 2018.

 

Employment rate of VET graduates (20 to 34 years old, ISCED levels 3 and 4)

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

The increase (+9.1 pp) in employment of 20-34 year-old upper secondary/post-secondary graduates in 2014-18 was higher compared to the increase in employment of all 20-34 year-old graduates (+5.3 pp) in the same period in Ireland ([12]NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series. ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education. Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

Education is highly valued in Ireland. The share of population aged up to 64 with higher education (45.6%) is higher than in most EU member stated and above the EU-28 average. The share of those with a low qualification, or without a qualification, is 16.3%, placing Ireland almost in the middle of EU Member States in this category.

 

Population (aged 25 to 64) by highest education level attained in 2018

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011. Low reliability for ‘No response’ in Czechia, Iceland, Latvia, and Poland.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_pgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower secondary

upper secondary

post-secondary

not applicable

10.3%

100%

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011.

Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs01, educ_uoe_enrs04 and educ_uoe_enrs07 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Share of initial VET learners from total learners at upper secondary level (ISCED level 3), 2017

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011.
Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs04 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Information not available

The share of early leavers from education and training has decreased from 11.8% in 2009 to 5% in 2018. This places Ireland below the EU-28 average of 10.6% and marks a success as this percentage is also below the national objective for 2020 (no more than 8%).

 

Early leavers from education and training in 2009-18

NB: Share of the population aged 18 to 24 with at most lower secondary education and not in further education or training; break in series.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_14 [extracted 16.5.2019] and European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/info/2018-european-semester-national-reform-programmes-and-stability-convergence-programmes_en [accessed 14.11.2018].

 

Dropout rate from VET (%)

Information not available

Lifelong learning offers training opportunities for adults, including early leavers from education.

 

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-18

NB: Share of adult population aged 25 to 64 participating in education and training; break in series.
Source: Eurostat, trng_lfse_01 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Participation in lifelong learning has increased since 2014 (7.0%). In 2018, it is above the EU-28 average by 1.4 percentage points (12.5% Ireland, 11.1% EU-28).

Information on VET learners, as distinct from other further education and training learners, is not available. However, the share of post-secondary non-tertiary learners in the population is slightly larger in the younger age cohorts.

 

Population (15+) by age group and education attainment level, quarter 3 2018.

Source: SLMRU analysis of labour force survey data.

 

The education and training system comprises:

  • primary education;
  • secondary education, divided into lower secondary education (EQF2) and upper secondary (EQF 3-4);
  • further education and training (FET) non-tertiary education;
  • tertiary education.

Primary education is compulsory from the age of 6 years, although the vast majority of pupils enrol between the ages of 4 and 5 years. It consists of an eight year cycle: junior infants, senior infants, and first to sixth classes. Most learners have completed primary education by the age of 12.

Secondary education usually lasts five to six years and is divided into lower secondary education (3 years) and upper secondary (2 years). Some pupils may also undertake the Transition Year Programme: a one-year programme that acts as a bridge between lower and upper secondary education.

Lower secondary education: the junior cycle is a generally oriented programme of approximately three years’ duration and leads to the Junior Certificate examination, which students usually take at the age of 15 or 16.

Upper secondary: the senior cycle (i.e. upper secondary education) takes two years and leads to the leaving certificate examination which students usually sit at the age of 17 or 18.

Further education and training in Ireland comprises post-secondary non-tertiary education, as well as second chance education/training. The sector is characterised by a high degree of diversity in terms of the type of programme, level and learner:

  • further education and training programmes can be general, vocational or mixed;
  • they lead to awards across several levels on the EQF (levels 1-5 on the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), or levels 1-6 on Ireland’s National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ));
  • target groups include young people who have recently completed upper secondary education, adult learners, early school leavers, the employed, the unemployed, asylum seekers, learners with special needs;
  • post leaving certificate (PLC) programmes are aimed primarily at those completing upper secondary education, but are also open to older learners; programmes are often general in nature, but also include VET programmes such as motor technology;
  • second chance learning opportunities within the further education and training sector.

Over a half of those who complete upper secondary school transfer directly to third level education on completing upper secondary education ([13]Department of Education and Skills: annual statistical reports 2016.
https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/Statistical-Reports/
). Students can opt for higher education in a university, institute of technology or college of education (EQF levels 5-6, ISCED levels 544-554, 665). There are also a small number of private, independent providers of tertiary (or third) level education (mostly business and related disciplines).

Undergraduate higher education courses are of various durations, ranging from two years for a higher certificate (NFQ 6; EQF 5, ISCED 665) to three/four years for an honours bachelor degree (NFQ 8; EQF 6; ISCED 666). Some programmes, such as medicine or architecture, require up to five years. Postgraduate programmes range from one year (e.g. taught masters (NFQ 9; EQF 7; ISCED 667)) to three years or more for doctoral programmes (NFQ 10; EQF 8; ISCED 864).

VET is provided primarily within the further education and training sector (comprising post-secondary non-tertiary and second chance education). However, since 2016, the apprenticeship system has been expanded and includes new programmes which are delivered not only within the further education and training sector, but also in tertiary level institutions. Graduates, however, have yet to emerge from these programmes.

Like the apprenticeship system, the traineeship system has undergone substantial change in recent years in Ireland. Traineeships, unlike apprenticeships, are not regulated by law (there is no occupation profile); they tend to be developed in response to local employers’ needs, and curriculum content may vary according to local demand. Traineeships must have a work-based learning component of at least 30%.

Most of the development of the traineeship system has been the result of recognising the need to develop the skills of the employed, as outlined in the national skills strategy. Consequently, while most traineeships programmes had previously been available only to the unemployed, they have, since 2017, also been open to school leavers and the employed. There are no age restrictions for trainees, and they are free of charge to participants. Some unemployed trainees may also receive a training allowance.

Specific skills training courses allow people who have lost their job to learn new job-related skills. The courses on offer vary from year to year with different levels of certification. The training content and occupational standards are based on the consultation process involving employers. Certification achieved on course completion ranges from levels 3-5 on the national framework of qualifications (or levels 2-4 on the EQF). The courses differ from traineeships in that they tend to be shorter (four to five months), with a shorter on-the-job phase; in addition, the employer does not play a role in recruitment.

Post leaving certificate courses are aimed at learners who have completed the leaving certificate examination at the end of upper secondary education. They are full-time courses which last between one and two years. These courses provide integrated general education, vocational training and work experience for young people; however, post leaving certificate courses are also an option for mature learners (in 2015, 47% of those enrolled on post leaving certificate programmes in 2015 were aged 21 or over). They provide, therefore, important lifelong learning opportunities for adult learners.

While some post leaving certificate courses are vocational in nature (e.g. training in beauty therapy, healthcare, security studies), others are general (e.g. general studies, art, design, etc.). Most post leaving certificate courses have a work experience component, although there is no prescribed minimum duration for most courses.

Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) courses consist of a range of full-time courses (EQF 2-5, ISCED 353) designed to meet the education and training needs of unemployed people aged 21 or over. It is offered by the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs) throughout the country. Participation in vocational training opportunities scheme courses is in two modes as follows:

  • as a ‘core’ vocational training opportunities scheme; students participate in a group of up to twenty other vocational training opportunities scheme students in a vocational training opportunities scheme centre or adult education centre;
  • as a ‘dispersed’ vocational training opportunities scheme; students participate in a group of students, some of whom may be vocational training opportunities scheme students and some of whom will be studying through other schemes/programmes (e.g. post leaving certificate course).

Vocational training opportunities scheme programmes offer a wide choice of subjects and learning activities. Certification is available at a range of levels.

Traditionally, programmes at tertiary level are not officially designated as being VET or General, although many programmes at higher education level are designed to qualify learners for work in specific occupations (e.g. teacher, architect, doctor, engineer). In this regard, tertiary education in Ireland does lead to VET related qualifications. However, in 2016, for the first time in Ireland, an apprenticeship programme became available at higher education level (insurance studies). Learners must hold an upper secondary education qualification and be in employment. Nonetheless, apprenticeship training at tertiary level is currently not a typical feature of the sector.

Until 2016, formal apprenticeship training was restricted to 27 trades, mostly concentrated in the construction and engineering sectors. However, following a review of the apprenticeship system by the education ministry in 2013, a decision was made to expand the apprenticeship system to other sectors of the economy. The qualifications, duration and economic sectors of the new apprenticeships differ somewhat to the earlier apprenticeships, and, as a result, formal apprenticeship training falls into two programme types: (a) pre-2016 craft apprenticeship and (b) post-2016 apprenticeship.

In both apprenticeship programme types, apprentices are considered to be part of the employed population and pay the appropriate level of employment insurance. They sign an employment contract with the employer and, therefore, have the legal status (and associated rights and responsibilities) of employees.

A national apprenticeship council oversees apprenticeship in Ireland. SOLAS (Ireland’s further education and training (FET) authority) is the lead agency responsible for apprenticeship on behalf of the government. It collaborates with the Higher Education Authority (responsible for tertiary education), Quality and Qualifications Ireland (industry and education) and training providers across both the FET and third level education system. It is the responsibility of SOLAS to maintain a national register of employers approved to take on apprentices and a national register of apprentices.

The national apprenticeship system is funded through the national training fund and from the exchequer.

In 2016, Ireland’s national skills strategy 2025 set a target to significantly expand the apprenticeship system, both in terms of the numbers of learners and the occupations and sectors in which apprenticeships would be available. The action plan to expand apprenticeship outlines the plan to increase the number of apprenticeship places over the period 2016-20 to 31 000 (up from approximately 12 000), and to increase the number of apprenticeship programmes to more than 70 (up from 27). These increases are expected to be rolled out incrementally to 2020.

Pre-2016 craft apprenticeship

The apprenticeship system in Ireland is governed by the 1967 Industrial Training Act and is organised by SOLAS (FET funding and planning authority) in cooperation with the education ministry, employers and unions. The pre-2016 craft-based apprenticeship programmes normally consist of seven phases: three off-the-job and four on-the-job. Phases 1, 3, 5 and 7 take place with the employer, while Phases 2, 4 and 6 take place at an education and training board (phase 2) or an institute of technology (phases 4 and 6). The total duration of off-the-job phases is approximately 40 weeks. The employer pays the apprentice for the on-the-job phases, while the State pays a training allowance to apprentices during the off-the-job phases. On completion of apprenticeship training, a qualified apprentice receives a craft certificate (NFQ 6 or EQF 5, ISCED 544, 554).

For pre-2016 craft apprenticeship training, the formal minimum entry requirement in Ireland is the junior certificate or equivalent (NFQ 3 or EQF 2) qualification. In practice, however, the vast majority (three-quarters) of new apprentices hold higher levels of education, typically a leaving certificate (NFQ level 4/5 or EQF level 3/4). Learners who do not meet the minimum education entry requirements may be registered as apprentices by an employer if they have either successfully completed an approved pre-apprenticeship course or if they are over 16 years old and have at least three years’ approved work experience. Some apprenticeships also require applicants to pass a SOLAS-approved colour vision test (e.g. electrical apprenticeship, painter and decorator apprenticeship).

In order to register as an apprentice, a learner must first secure employment in the trade s/he wishes to undertake.

Post-2016 apprenticeship

Since the expansion of the apprenticeship system in 2016, several new apprenticeship programmes have become available. As of August 2018, there were 23 additional formal apprenticeship programmes being run, many of which are delivered at tertiary level institutions; they span a range of sectors, including hospitality (e.g. chef de partie), finance (e.g. insurance practice) and engineering (e.g. polymer processing technology). These new apprenticeships must be a minimum of two years in duration; they lead to awards spanning levels 5-8 on the national framework for qualifications (EQF levels 4-6).

In addition, there are a number of apprenticeships at various stages of development; the proposed national framework for qualifications levels for these apprenticeships range from national framework for qualifications levels 5-10 (EQF levels 4-8), and have proposed durations of two to four years. They include retail practice, arboriculture and HGV driver.

The employer pays the apprentice for the duration of the apprenticeship.

For post-2016 apprenticeships, the entry requirements vary, depending on the specific apprenticeship programme, although a leaving certificate is generally the minimum requirement. For entry to apprenticeship programmes at third level, learners often need to meet certain academic requirements (e.g. for the insurance practice apprenticeship, learners must hold minimum grades in at least six subjects (including mathematics and English or Irish)).

Generally an apprentice does not pay fees. However, a student contribution is levied on all students (including apprentices) attending institutes of technology (i.e. phases 4 and 6 of apprenticeship training). The maximum rate of the student contribution for the academic year 2016/17 was EUR 3 000, although in practice the amount was typically lower than this. (Student contributions only apply to learners on apprenticeship programmes delivered at an institute of technology; some apprenticeships, such as accounting technician or commis chef are not delivered at an institute of technology, and so are not subject to the student contribution.)

In order to register as an apprentice, a learner must first secure employment in the trade s/he wishes to undertake. Apprentices are not eligible for a student grant.

The number of apprentices was extremely low during the economic recession but has now increased to 15 500 (in 2018) compared to the 3 273 observed earlier in the decade, (Q 16 on the website).

Additionally, apprenticeship is not considered a second chance route (Q 10 on the website), although it is not a typical education route for most of those graduating from upper secondary education.

Learn more about apprenticeships in the national context from the European database on apprenticeship schemes by Cedefop: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/apprenticeship-schemes/scheme-fiches

Responsibility for taking decisions and implementing further education and training, which includes most VET provision in Ireland, lies with SOLAS, a government agency, in conjunction with 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs), who are the VET providers. Both SOLAS and the education and training boards are agencies of the education ministry. This remit was established under the Further Education and Training Act 2013, which was signed into law in July 2013 ([14]http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2013/act/25/enacted/en/print.html). The Act required SOLAS to submit a five-year strategy for further education and training provision in Ireland. The further education and training strategy ([15]Department for Education and Skills; SOLAS (2014). Further education and training strategy, 2014-19. https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/Further-Educatio...) guides the provision of further education and training in Ireland (including VET, such as apprenticeship and upskilling initiatives for the employed,).

The further education and training strategy complements other government strategies such as the National Skill Strategy ([16]Department for Education and Skills (2016). Ireland’s skills strategy 2025: Ireland’s future. https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/pub_national_ski...) and the Action Plan for Jobs ([17]Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (2017). Action plans for jobs. https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/Action-Plan-for-Jo...).

Since 2016, and the reform of apprenticeship, Ireland’s higher education authority also plays a role in the oversight of VET programmes that are delivered in higher education institutions (namely institutes of technology).

In 2018, the further education and training services plan provided for a total budget allocation of EUR 647.6 million to the further education and training authority (SOLAS) for the provision of further education and training programmes. Included within the funding allocated for further education and training is the funding for VET programmes. The funding is received from two main sources, the Exchequer and the national training fund. Most of the funding is allocated through SOLAS to the education and training boards. Of the EUR 647.6 million allocated to SOLAS, EUR 366.8 million comes from Exchequer funding and EUR 277.5 million comes from the national training fund; the remaining EUR 3.3 million comes from SOLAS-generated income.

  • EUR per student per year
  • % from GDP
  • % from government spending
  • historical trends

Information not available

Given the diverse nature of further education and training and VET programmes offered to learners in Ireland, there are several categories of teaching and training professionals working in VET.

In general, VET teacher/trainer categories are distinguished by the programmes they deliver, their technical and pedagogical qualifications required, and the funding mechanisms.

  • Teachers work in education and training boards in schools or colleges of further education that deliver post leaving certificate courses and/or vocational training opportunities scheme programmes. Although further education and training teachers deliver their programmes (including VET) at ISCED level 4 (leading to awards at national framework of qualifications levels 5-6 and European qualifications framework levels 4-5), they are registered with the teaching council as second level teachers. To register, teachers must hold an honours bachelor degree (at national framework of qualifications level 8; European qualifications framework level 6; ISCED 665, 666) and an approved initial teacher education qualification (postgraduate diploma at national framework of qualifications levels 8 or 9 (European qualifications framework levels 6 or 7); alternatively, a teacher may hold a concurrent degree qualification in post-primary initial teacher education (national framework of qualifications level 8; European qualifications framework level 6), which combines the study of one or more curricular subjects with teacher education studies.
  • Apprenticeship instructors work in education and training boards in training centres which deliver the first off-the-job phase of apprenticeship (phase 2). At present, there is no requirement for instructors on classroom based apprenticeship programmes to hold a pedagogical qualification, but they must hold a craft certificate (national framework of qualifications level 6; European qualifications framework level 5), plus 5 years experience.
  • Apprenticeship lecturers work in institutes of technology, which are third level institutions, delivering training on the remaining two phases (4 and 7) of the apprenticeship programme. Apprenticeship lecturers must hold a degree (national framework of qualifications levels 7-8; European qualifications framework level 6) or equivalent in the subject area, or hold a craft certificate (European qualifications framework level 5) and have three years’ postgraduate experience.
  • Work based tutors are employed, in both private and public sectors, in craft occupations. They are responsible for overseeing the work and training of apprentices during the on-the-job phases of the apprenticeship programme (phases 1, 3, 5 and 7).

Employers must employ a suitably qualified and relevant craftsperson who has been approved by the further education and training authority (SOLAS) to act as:

  • workplace assessor. The assessor must have completed the SOLAS assessor and verifier programme provided by the education and training boards. This course lasts approximately one day and is not aligned with the national framework of qualifications;
  • workplace tutor. The tutor must be competent and qualified (a holder of a national craft certificate (European qualifications framework level 5) to train apprentices.

The tutor and assessor can be the same person provided they hold the relevant qualification.

Tutors/trainers work on VET programmes or on general learning programmes in education and training boards. They deliver training (other than apprenticeship) or education (e.g. adult literacy), often on programmes aimed at the unemployed (e.g. specific skills training or other VET programmes), or early school leavers (general education).

For other types of VET training in the further education and training sector the qualifications and professional standards of trainers vary. In general, programmes leading to a Quality and Qualifications Ireland award require a subject matter qualification (usually one level higher than that of the course being taught), a pedagogical qualification (usually at third level) and 5 years’ industry experience. For all other training, such as computing or accounting, trainer profiles tend to vary depending on the awarding body, the subject matter being taught and the provider. However pedagogical qualifications are increasingly in demand for these types of courses.

Trainers in other types of training programmes are generally required to hold a technical qualification at a level that is one step above the programme being delivered. In addition, they must also hold a minimum amount of relevant work experience. Increasingly, however, there is a demand for these trainers to hold a pedagogical qualification.

Other trainers work in a variety of further education and training settings, including education and training boards, Skillnets ([18]Skillnet Ireland is a national agency dedicated to the promotion and facilitation of workforce learning in Ireland. The organisation was established in 1999 and works with businesses and their employees to address their current and future skills needs by providing high quality, subsidised training through a series of enterprise-led training networks which operate across a range of sectors and regions. Skillnet Ireland receives public funding through the National Training Fund (NTF) (a dedicated fund to support the training of those in employment, and those seeking employment). In addition to NTF funding, Skillnet Ireland channels funding into its training programmes via matching funding provided by its network member enterprises. Skillnets training interventions comprise mostly short courses (days rather than weeks or months). More information available at:
https://www.skillnetireland.ie/
) (mostly providing training, although not exclusively, to the employed) and private sector providers.

With the exception of apprenticeships, continuing professional development (CPD) for further education and training professionals in Ireland has, until recently, been taking place mostly on an ad-hoc basis and has lacked a strategic focus at national level.

This situation is expected to change in the future as the further education and training strategy ([19]Department for Education and Skills; SOLAS (2014). Further education and training strategy, 2014-19. https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/Further-Educatio...) has emphasised the importance of a ‘clear and consistent professional and competency skill roadmap for those entering into and those (already) involved in the further education and training sector in its broadest sense’. The strategy also recognises the need for a continuing professional development requirement for those employed in the further education and training sector in addition to the professional qualifications. The Skills Profile ([20]The Skills Profile is an IT-based tool designed to capture information that will facilitate the on-going review of skills and qualification profile of personnel in the sector. It is anticipated that the outputs from the skills profile project will assist SOLAS and its education and training boards’ (ETBs) partners in developing an overall Continuous professional development strategy and appropriate responses to identified priority needs to assist with future workforce and personnel development planning.) will also help address the information deficit on continuing professional development participation in further education and training.

The continuing professional development strategy will be developed by SOLAS in an evidence-based manner.

Evidence will be drawn from both primary and secondary sources, nationally and internationally, and will be both qualitative and quantitative in nature. In addition to the data from the skills profile reports, it is expected that other sources of data will be analysed as part of the continuing professional development strategy development process, including sector activity information, as well as reports on labour market and future skills needs. A key element of the development process is extensive consultation with key further education and training sector stakeholders to develop a comprehensive view of further education and training professional development issues from a wide perspective.

The continuing professional development strategy will be the first agreed articulation of national policy for the professional development of staff in the newly integrated further education and training sector.

More information is available in the Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspective on teachers and trainers ([21]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/teachers-and-trainers).

 

 

Following publication of the national skills strategy 2025 (in 2016), the system for the identification of skills needs in Ireland was reconfigured. Skills needs identification is now overseen by a National Skills Council, which was established in 2017. The National Skills Council is chaired by Ireland’s Minister for Education and Skills and is made up of representatives (usually senior civil servants or chief executive officers) from a number of government departments (ministries), their agencies and employers.

More specifically the National Skills Council includes representatives from the following:

  • Department of education and skills;
  • Department of business, enterprise and innovation;
  • Department of public expenditure and reform;
  • Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection;
  • employers.

The figure below depicts the composition of the National Skills Council ([22]Source: SOLAS.).

 

 

 

The National Skills Council oversees the process of skills needs identification in Ireland. It is informed by the work of:

  • an expert group on future skills needs, which provides advice on sectoral developments in terms of employment;
  • regional skills fora: a network of nine fora that forms a direct link between education and training providers and employers at local level;
  • The Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU), which monitors the supply and demand for skills and occupational labour. Every year, the skills and labour market research unit publishes the national skills bulletin, a summary of the various supply and demand indicators for skills and labour in Ireland ([23]http://www.solas.ie/SkillsToAdvance/Documents/National%20Skills%20Bulletin%202018.pdf). The national skills bulletin also provides a list of the occupations for which a shortage has been identified, distinguishing between a skills shortage, a labour shortage, or a possible future (within the next five years) shortage. Every five years (or when the data permits), the skills and labour market research unit carries out a medium-term forecasting project, which looks at the demand for skills at occupational level ([24]http://www.solas.ie/SolasPdfLibrary/OccupationalEmploymentForecasts2013.pdf).

See also Cedefop’s skills forecast ([25]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/skills-forecast) and European skills index ([26]https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/indicators/european-skills-index).

Under the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012 ([27]Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2012/act/28/enacted/en/print.html), the government established Quality and Qualifications Ireland ([28]https://www.qqi.ie/). Quality and Qualifications Ireland operates under the Department of Education and Skills. It is both an awarding and a quality assurance body. While the remit of Quality and Qualifications Ireland extends to both general and vocational education and training awards, it plays a key role in setting standards and qualifications in VET (a significant share of VET-related awards are made by Quality and Qualifications Ireland).

 

The specific statutory functions of Quality and Qualifications Ireland include, for example:

  • establishing the standards of knowledge, skills or competences to be acquired by learners before an award can be made by Quality and Qualifications Ireland, or by an education and training provider to which authority to make an award has been delegated;
  • making awards or delegating authority to make an award where it considers it appropriate; reviewing and monitoring the operation of the authority so delegated.

Quality and Qualifications Ireland sets standards for further education and training awards (including VET) and tertiary education awards made outside the university sector ([29]The awards at tertiary level are made to learners at a variety of tertiary institutions including private independent colleges. Third level institutions such as most institutes of technology have received delegated authority from Quality and Qualifications Ireland make their own awards. Universities and Dublin Institute of Technology act as their own awarding bodies.).

Quality and Qualifications Ireland awards’ standards are determined within the National Framework of Qualifications, which comprises a grid of indicators, award-type descriptors and other policies, criteria, standards and guidelines that may be issued to support it. Quality and Qualifications Ireland determines awards’ standards for the education and training awards that it makes itself and that are made by providers to whom it has delegated authority to make an award. Such standards are determined to be consistent with the national framework of qualifications award types.

Under the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012, Quality and Qualifications Ireland is required to develop and publish guidelines for providers for the quality assurance of their programmes and services. Providers are required by legislation to have regard to Quality and Qualifications Ireland guidelines in developing their own procedures for quality assurance. In some instances, such as programme validation, providers’ quality assurance procedures must be approved by Quality and Qualifications Ireland as fit for purpose.

Therefore, providers are responsible for assuring the quality of their own programmes with reference to the guidelines and criteria issued by Quality and Qualifications Ireland. Given the variety of providers in Ireland, Quality and Qualifications Ireland has developed guidelines for a number of sectors, including the further education and training sector. Quality and Qualifications Ireland guidelines for further education and training providers are directed to the EQAVET Framework, the European initiative for quality assurance in VET, designed to provide tools for the management of quality in vocational education and training. Quality and Qualifications Ireland is an active contributor to EQAVET’s work on a European level and these guidelines are designed to complement EQAVET guidelines.

Programme validation is a key quality assurance process that Quality and Qualifications Ireland uses to approve new programmes proposed by providers of education and training. Validation in this context means that a programme meets minimum standards in terms of learning outcomes and national framework of qualifications levels. Programme validation, therefore, can assure providers and learners that successful completion of a programme validated by Quality and Qualifications Ireland will lead to a specific national framework of qualifications awards.

Programme validation is a two-stage process:

  • approval of the provider’s ability to quality assure its programmes;
  • validation by Quality and Qualifications Ireland of a specific programme(s). Quality and Qualifications Ireland does this by appointing independent expert(s) to compare provider proposals against the requirements of the particular national framework of qualifications award(s).

If the proposed programme meets Quality and Qualifications Ireland criteria, it can be validated for up to five years. If the criteria are not met then the programme cannot be offered as proposed.

Under an EU Council recommendation ([30]Council of the European Union (2012). Council recommendation of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning. Official Journal of the European Union, C 398, 22.12.2012, p.1-5.
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2012:398:0001:0005:EN:PDF
), Member States should have arrangements in place for the validation of non-formal and informal learning no later than 2018. Under the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012, Quality and Qualifications Ireland is required to establish policies on recognition of prior learning within the policies and criteria for Access, Transfer and Progression (ATP).

While the legal basis for the development of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) policies was established in the Qualifications Act 1999, the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) published principles and operational guidelines in 2005 ([31]https://www.qqi.ie/Downloads/Principles%20and%20Operational%20Guidelines...). Recognition of prior learning policy is currently being revised by Quality and Qualifications Ireland. Quality and Qualifications Ireland has consulted widely with relevant stakeholders to achieve a more cohesive approach to delivering recognition of prior learning nationally. Quality and Qualifications Ireland aims to develop comprehensive policy and operational procedures in line with legislation on the basis of national collaboration, consideration of the current arrangements and identification of best practice nationally and internationally.

For more information about arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning please visit Cedefop’s European database ([32]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/european-database-on-validation-of-non-formal-and-informal-learning).

Funding

In common with other sections of the Irish education sector, the provision of public vocational and education training is largely funded by the Exchequer and consequently VET programmes are provided free or at a minimal charge. As an example, the post leaving certificate programme is an important element of VET provision to young people who have completed their leaving certificate and to adults returning to education.

Since the 2011/12 academic year, students on post leaving certificate courses have paid a participant contribution of EUR 200 (prior to this, students did not have to pay any fees). There may be other minimal costs, i.e. registration and exam fees, which may vary according to the different colleges. Certain categories of post leaving certificate students are exempted from this participant contribution: for example, learners who qualify for a student grant do not have to pay the participant contribution. Colleges offering post leaving certificate courses may, however, levy a 'course charge' to cover such expenses as books, uniforms, student services, professional registration fees and examination fees.

The cost of taking up further education and training courses is much less expensive than attending higher education courses in Ireland.

Grants, allowances, support

There are numerous grants and incentives available to support individuals intending to take up courses in the further education and training sector:

  • the Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) is available to carers, people with disabilities, unemployed people and lone parents. This allowance provides these individuals with the opportunity to study at second level (both lower secondary (NFQ 3/EQF 2, ISCED 244) and upper secondary (NFQ 4/5, EQF 3/4, ISCED 343, 344) or further (NFQ 1-6/EQF 1-5) and tertiary (third level) (NFQ 6-10, EQF 5-8, ISCED 544-864) education, while keeping their existing social welfare payments;
  • the Back to Education Initiative (BTEI) is targeted at people over the age of 16 who have not completed their leaving certificate and allows participants to combine family and work with a part-time further education programme;
  • the CETS (Childcare Employment and Training Support) scheme provides subsidised childcare places for some applicants to further education and training courses including VET (specific skills training, vocational training opportunities scheme, and traineeships).

 

Other initiatives available to trainees include:

  • a training allowance which may be paid for the duration of the course;
  • an accommodation allowance should the individual live away from home in order to attend the course;
  • a travel allowance should the trainee live more than three miles from the education and training board ([33]The allowances paid depend on a number of factors including the programme type. Depending on the programme, the allowances paid to trainees can be the equivalent of the payment made to the unemployed. Travel and accommodation allowances depend on the programme and the distance the learner lives from the training centre (e.g. EUR 32.60 per week for somebody living at a distance of 64 kilometres or more. An accommodation allowance is typically EUR 69.90 per week.).

Positive employability outcomes

The first goal in the corporate plan 2017-19 of the further education and training authority (SOLAS) is for further education and training provision to align with labour market and learners’ employability and lifelong learning needs. By striving to ensure positive employability outcomes for those undertaking further education and training (including VET) programmes, SOLAS aims to increase the attractiveness of further education and training among school leavers and other learners in Ireland. To this end, monitoring learner outcomes from further education and training courses is a key function of SOLAS. This data, along with local labour market intelligence (also provided by SOLAS), informs the further education and training planning agreements SOLAS makes with education and training boards as the basis for receipt of funding. These activities help to ensure that courses provided by education and training boards are up-to-date and in conjunction with employers’ needs and that learners from VET-oriented courses will be job ready. Currently, most monitoring is carried out through regular surveys. However, administrative data sets will be increasingly used to monitor learner outcomes. Initial steps were taken in pilot programmes in 2016, with further work currently ongoing.

Further education and training development framework for employees

In October 2018, the further education and training authority (SOLAS) published its further education and training employee development framework, which aims to upskill and reskill vulnerable workers. Further education and training provision for these workers includes digital skills training, technical, socio-emotional and cognitive training. The target cohorts are older workers, those with low education attainment (less than national framework of qualifications level 5/European qualifications framework level 4), those working in vulnerable occupations/sectors (e.g. elementary and operatives working in some low tech manufacturing). Currently, briefing sessions are being held at education and training board level, with efforts concentrating on developing education and training board capacity, rolling out a promotional campaign and monitoring metrics. This is a dedicated initiative, with dedicated funding allocated to it, and builds on existing programmes by embedding the policy in this area ([34]Enterprises don’t receive any direct funding. The funding goes to the provider.).

The policy also supports small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in investing in their workforces. While responsibility for skills development of employees will continue to remain with employers, this policy aims to complement existing employer-based and State initiatives through targeted support and investment by government. It is planned that, by 2021, over 40 000 workers will be engaging in State-supported upskilling; 4 500 SMEs (small and medium enterprises) will be supported through this initiative.

Guidance and counselling takes different forms throughout the VET sector. Learners generally access courses and services through self‐referral or having been referred to courses and services through the department of social protection. For example, with regard to post leaving certificate courses, school leavers or adults generally choose the course and apply directly by letter or online to the school or college offering that course. In some instances they will be called for an interview before final selection. Post leaving certificate courses’ participants may receive in-house education and career guidance on the issue of vocational area choice, on progression to work and progression through a special links programme to an institute of technology.

For young learners who join the youthreach programme on leaving school at the age of 16 (or younger), counselling and psychological services are available as well as a guidance service, in recognition of the social and personal challenges experienced by many youthreach participants. The National Centre for Guidance in Education (NCGE) has a role in the support and development of guidance in youthreach and similar programmes. The remit of the national centre for guidance in education, which is an agency of the education ministry, is to develop and support quality guidance provision in the education sector as part of lifelong learning in accordance with national and international best practice. The national centre for guidance in education has collaborated with the youthreach programme in the development of the web wheel model ([35]More information on the WebWheel model can be found at the Youthreach website:
http://www.youthreach.ie/web-wheel/
), a core element of which includes the use of mentoring techniques to develop and guide one-to-one relationships between students and staff. This process uses a specific profiling tool, the wheel, to assess student needs, to structure and guide the mentoring conversations and to review and monitor progress.

SOLAS is working with the national centre for guidance in education to coordinate the adult education guidance initiative within the education and training boards, which provides nationwide guidance for learners before and after they participate in vocational training opportunities schemes programmes.

The institutes of technology provide higher education and some VET and further education and training programmes. The majority of the institutes of technology offer a careers service to students. The main provision is targeted at final year students and recent graduates, though some careers services have started to provide careers education in the curriculum of undergraduate courses. The careers advisory/appointments office provides information on education and employment opportunities. Universities and the institutes of technology are not statutorily required to offer careers services and the provision can differ across the sector. At present many of the careers services are involved in programmes promoting student retention in higher education and training.

With regard to apprenticeship, each person must first obtain employment as an apprentice in their chosen trade. The employer must be approved to train apprentices and must register the person with SOLAS as an apprentice within two weeks of recruitment. The registered apprentice is then called for training by SOLAS.

Further education and training practitioners require reskilling throughout their careers to meet the changing needs of learners in further education and training. There are a number of organisations and agencies that are already providing development opportunities to further education and training practitioners: the further education and support service in programme development and quality assurance; the national centre for guidance in education for further education and training guidance personnel; the National Learning Network and the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD) for disability awareness, etc.

Please see:

Vocational education and training system chart

Tertiary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 5

Higher certificate

programme,

2 years

ISCED 544, 554

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF level 5,ISCED 544, 554.
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

544, 554

Usual entry grade

Not applicable

Usual completion grade

Not applicable

Usual entry age

18+

Usual completion age

Not applicable

Length of a programme (years)

2

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

In so far as VET is offered at this level (it’s a very small component), it is part of initial VET.

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

All students, unless in receipt of a means tested grant, must pay fees.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Usually 120 ECTs are earned on completion of the two years ([46]Credits are decided individually by the higher education institutions.).

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • School based learning
Main providers
  • Schools (institutes of technology, universities, colleges of education)
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Information not available

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

Information not available

Main target groups

The main target group are school leavers, but increasingly older learners are being encouraged to take up opportunities at this level.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Upper secondary certificate

For some lifelong learning focussed programmes, however, formal education requirements may differ and work experience may be sufficient.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete programmes at this level, learners need to pass a final examination (part of the grade may be earned through continuous assessment). Assessment is typically based on learning outcomes.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Learners receive a higher certificate on completion of their studies.

Examples of qualifications

Higher certificate in business studies,

marketing associate professional ([47]As described in national context.)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Progression to the next level (EQF 6) of tertiary education. Learners may also enter the labour market.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 6

Undergraduate

Programmes,

3 years

ISCED 665

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF level 6, ISCED 665
EQF level
6
ISCED-P 2011 level

665

Usual entry grade

Not applicable

Usual completion grade

Not applicable

Usual entry age

18+

Usual completion age

Not applicable

Length of a programme (years)

3

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Not all programmes at this level are VET, but some engineering/science, can be considered to be VET, and in this instance, they would be IVET.

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

N

All learners in tertiary education, unless in receipt of a means-tested grant, must pay fees.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Typically 180 credits (ECTS) ([48]Credits are decided individually by the higher education institutions.)

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning
Main providers

Schools (Institutes of technology, universities, colleges of education)

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Information not available

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

Information not available

Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

A leaving certificate award is the minimum entry requirement.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete programmes at this level, learners need to pass a final examination (part of the grade may be earned through continuous assessment). Assessment is typically based on learning outcomes.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Learners receive a diploma (undergraduate).

Examples of qualifications

Ordinary bachelor degree in business studies ([49]As described in national context.).

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Those who complete VET can enter the labour market of continue their studie to EQF level 6 (honours degree).

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Y

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 5-6

Undergraduate

programmes,

3-5 years

ISCED 665, 666

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF levels 5- 6, ISCED 665, 666.
EQF level
5-6
ISCED-P 2011 level

665, 666

Usual entry grade

Not applicable

Usual completion grade

Not applicable

Usual entry age

18+

Usual completion age

Not applicable

Length of a programme (years)

3-5

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

N

Third level fees apply to all learners, with the exception of those in receipt of a means-tested grant

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

180 – 240 ECTS, depending on the programme ([50]Credits are decided individually by the higher education institutions.).

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • mostly school based learning
Main providers
  • universities;
  • institutes of technology
  • colleges of education
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Information not available

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

Information not available

Main target groups

Programmes are predominantly targeted at young people, but are available to adults also.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

A leaving certificate award is the minimum requirement.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete VET programmes at this level, learners need pass a final examination (which may also include continuous assessment component as part of the final grade)

Diplomas/certificates provided

Learners receive an honours bachelor degree.

Examples of qualifications

Bachelor of arts (hons) degree), bachelor of science (hons) degree ([51]As described in national context.).

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Those who complete education/training at this level can enter the labour market or continue their studies at EQF 7.

Destination of graduates

75% of graduates in 2017 had either started or were about to start a job, although this share varies by field of learning ([52]As reported in: Higher Education Authority (2017). Graduate outcomes survey: class of 2017.
https://hea.ie/assets/uploads/2019/02/HEA-Graduate-Outcomes-Survey.pdf
), 18% were engaged in further study,4% were employed,3% were engaged in other activities.

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 6-7

Post-graduate

programmes,

1-2 years

ISCED 667,767

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF levels 6-7, ISCED 667,767
EQF level
6-7
ISCED-P 2011 level

667,767

Usual entry grade

Not applicable

Usual completion grade

Not applicable

Usual entry age

18+

Usual completion age

Not applicable

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

N

learners must pay fees in most instances

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

60-120 ECTS credits depending on the programme ([53]Credits are decided individually by the higher education institutions.)

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

Information not available

Main providers
  • Schools (universities, institutes of technology, colleges of education)
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Information not available

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

Information not available

Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

The minimum requirement for entry to postgraduate education is an honours bachelor degree (EQF 6) or equivalent.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete a VET programme at this level, learners need to pass a final examination (part of the final grade may be composed of continuous assessment). Also, depending on the programme, submission of a thesis may also be required.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Depending on the programme a learner may receive a higher diploma, a postgraduate certificate, a postgraduate diploma or a masters degree.

Examples of qualifications

Master’s in education ([54]As described in national context.)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Those who complete education and training at this level may enter the labour market or continue their studies at the same or higher level (EQF 7 or EQF 8).

Destination of graduates

86% of graduates in 2017 had either started or were about to start a job, although this share varies by field of learning([55]As reported in: Higher Education Authority (2017). Graduate outcomes survey: class of 2017.
https://hea.ie/assets/uploads/2019/02/HEA-Graduate-Outcomes-Survey.pdf
), 4% were engaged in further study,5% were employed,5% were engaged in other activities.

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Y

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

Post-secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 4-5

Post-leaving

certificate courses,

1-2 years

ISCED 443/453

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF levels 4-5, ISCED 443/453
EQF level
4-5
ISCED-P 2011 level

443/453

Usual entry grade

not applicable

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

18+

Usual completion age

Not applicable

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

In so far as part of the course content is VET in nature, it is considered initial education.

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

N

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable ([38]Credits accumulated, if any, on the basis of certifying bodies, which can vary.)

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning;
  • component of work-based learning is small, usually with no minimum duration required; it is usually carried out in the context of work experience with a local employer.
Main providers

Information not available

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

<30% ([39]For post leaving certificate courses with a work-based learning component.)

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

No formal requirements

Work experience, when part of the curriculum, typically occurs with a company.

Main target groups

Young people who have completed the upper secondary cycle, adults.

The main target group for post leaving certificate courses is learners who have completed the leaving certificate, which is the examination held at the end of upper secondary education. The aim is to provide education/training in a range of subject areas (e.g. business, art, healthcare, social care, among others).

However, older learners may also enrol on post leaving certificate courses.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

The usual requirement is that the applicant holds a leaving certificate qualification or equivalent (i.e. qualifications at levels EQF3/4). Adults without a leaving certificate may access these courses if they have sufficient work experience.

Assessment of learning outcomes

On completion of a post leaving certificate programme, learners undergo a number of assessments (continuous assessment and written examination). For programmes that lead to an awards made by Quality and Qualifications Ireland, the assessments are based on learning outcomes. Not all programmes lead to an award made by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (industry certification or other awarding bodies may be used).

Diplomas/certificates provided

The certification received depends on the course followed. Usually, courses lead to awards that have been placed at level 4 or 5 on the EQF and they are recognised for progression and employment opportunities. Progression can be to other further education and training courses, or indeed to third level colleges either in Ireland or the UK.

Examples of qualifications

Teachers' aides ([40]As described in national context.)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Those who complete a post leaving certificate course may progress to tertiary education (though a very small number of learners decides to do so). Primarily, the post leaving certificate courses aim to prepare learners to enter the labour market.

Destination of graduates

According to an evaluation of the post leaving certificate sector published in 2018 ([41]http://www.solas.ie/SolasPdfLibrary/PLC/ESRI_PLC_evaluation.pdf)

  • 33% of post leaving certificate course completers progressed to employment (a breakdown of VET versus general learning is not possible);
  • Almost 21% progressed to further studies within the further education and training (FET) system;
  • 27% progressed to higher education;
  • 12% were unemployed.
Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

Most of these courses are general or a mix of general and VET.

Key competences

Y

Key competences are part of the assessment procedure.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 3-5

Traineeship

various durations,

WBL min. 30%

ISCED 253, 353, 453

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF levels 3-5, ISCED 253, 353, 453
EQF level
3-5
ISCED-P 2011 level

253, 353, 453

Usual entry grade

not applicable

Usual completion grade

not applicable

Usual entry age

18+

Usual completion age

not applicable

Length of a programme (years)

from 6 months to 2 years

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

N

In the past, traineeships were part of second chance education/training and open only to the employed. Since 2016 they are also open to school leavers, the employed and adult learners.

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Information not available

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • on- the-job training
  • school based learning
Main providers
  • Schools (Education and Training Board’s training centre)
  • enterprises
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=30%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • in-company practice
Main target groups

Unemployed, employed, school leavers (either young people or adults).

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

A qualification at EQF level 2 is usually the minimum. In addition for those opting for qualifications at childcare and/or healthcare sectors (especially when they will be dealing with children or adults with disabilities) a police vetting ([42]The police vetting process is about criminal history checks and other relevant information on potential and current employees, volunteers and vocational trainees to approved agencies that provide care to children and vulnerable members of society.) is also required.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment is via exams and continuous assessment methods. They are typically based on learning outcomes.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Learners may receive a full or partial award (with partial awards being recognised as part fulfilment of the requirements for a full award). Awards span levels 3-5 on the EQF.

Examples of qualifications

Healthcare support assistant ([43]As described in national context.)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Those who complete a traineeship can enter the labour market or progress to further studies within the further education and training system.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Y

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

For traineeships that lead to awards on the national framework of qualifications (made by Quality Qualifications Ireland), a learning outcomes approach is applied.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 4-5

Apprenticeship

up to 4 years,

WBL ca. 80%

ISCED 453.

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF levels 4-5, ISCED 453.
EQF level
4-5
ISCED-P 2011 level

453

Usual entry grade

Not applicable

Usual completion grade

Not applicable

Usual entry age

18+

Usual completion age

Not applicable

Length of a programme (years)

4 (up to)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

In the initial phases. However, any part of the training that takes place in a higher education institution will incur fees.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Information not available

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning; (contact studies either at an education/training provider or a higher education institution)
  • in-company practice (practical training in a company).
Main providers
  • Enterprises
  • schools (education and training boards’training Centre or an institute of technology)
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=80%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training at a college of further education and training
  • in-company practice
Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults. Since apprentices are part of the employed, they must be at least 16 years of age. There is no formal upper age limit.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

There are two types of programmes at this level (box):

  • pre-2106 craft apprenticeship training for which the formal minimum entry requirement is the junior certificate or equivalent (EQF 2 qualification). In practice, however, the vast majority (three quarters) of new apprentices hold higher levels of education, typically a Leaving Certificate (EQF level 3/4);
  • post 2016 apprenticeship for which the entry requirements vary, depending on the specific apprenticeship programme, although a leaving certificate (EQF level 3/4) is generally the minimum.
Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete apprenticeship training, apprentices are assessed at various stages of the programme, both on and off the job. They are based on learning outcomes and include a practical component.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Learners who complete the traditional pre-2016 type apprenticeships receive a craft certificate. For the post 2016 apprenticeship, there are different possibilities depending on the apprenticeship. Once learners begin to emerge from these programmes, they may receive: a level 5 certificate, an advanced certificate, a higher certificate, an ordinary degree, an honours bachelor degree or a masters degree.

Examples of qualifications

Pre-2016 apprenticeships: carpentry and joinery, electrical, instrumentation, plastering([44]As described in national context.)

post-2016 apprenticeship: accounting technician, insurance practice, ICT associate network engineer, retail practice, arboriculture, and HGV driver([45]As described in national context.);

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Learners completing programmes in VET typically have a number of options: they may continue their studies in VET, progress to tertiary level education (in an institute of technology) or enter the labour market).

Destination of graduates

All apprentices must hold an employment contract prior to commencing the apprenticeship programme. Therefore destination is by default to employment.

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Y

General subjects such as mathematics are taught for some apprenticeships, although not all.

Key competences

Y

Competences such as digital skills are taught.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

All apprenticeship awards are on the national framework of qualifications, so a learning outcomes approach is applied.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

Secondary

Programme Types
Not available

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Programme Types
Not available