Vocational education and training in Portugal

VET institutions

Program Qualifica
Qualifica has over 303 centres in Portugal, with the main goal of improving adult education. You can find the one nearest to you at https://www.qualifica.gov.pt/#/pesquisaCentros.

At Qualifica you may find jobs and training from a varied array of fields.
The Qualifica Program is a government created institution that is mainly aimed at providing adults with qualification in order to develop their education level and promote higher levels of employability. This is done through a varied range of education and qualification opportunities.
The program defines itself as being available to adults of age 18 or higher, who wish to further improve their qualifications and employability situation, as well as young people that are not currently participating in any means of education or professional formation (NEETs).

Vocational Orientation
- Qualifica offers career guidance through “Passport Qualifica”.
- This service works as a career path simulator, helping you anticipate what your future may look like, depending on which professional sector you decide to put your effort in.
- In the Passport you can add all your qualifications. From here it will tell you what professions you may apply for. Passport Qualifica will also let you know what training would benefit you the most for your specific situation.
To contact Program Qualifica, you have the option of sending an email at munlisboa@centroqualifica.gov.pt.
You may also contact them via phone call to the following numbers (+351) 760 200 030.

As stated, there are several centres throughout the country - search for the nearest one and their contacts.
In the Qualifica Centre you have several modalities of support:

- Basic Competences Training (FCB) is meant for adults aged 18 or older who haven’t finished basic education. It aims to help its learners acquire basic competences in reading, writing, calculus and the use of information technologies. It takes between 150 and 300 hours.

- Adult’s Education and Training (EFA) is intended for adults, 18 or older, who wish to increase their qualifications. It allows completion education from basic education, all the way to high school. Certain courses allow for dual certification, educational and professional, simultaneously. Depending on the educational level you wish to achieve, courses may take anywhere from 315 to 2000 hours.

- Modular Training is destined for adults who haven’t finished basic or secondary education and wish to improve their education towards reinsertion and progression in the labour market. It has a more flexible time requirement for completion, between 25 and 600 hours. These are arranged in Short duration Training Units (UFCDs). Participants are generally required to be 18 or older, although there are exceptions for minors.

- To achieve higher education levels you might also try the RVCC processes (Recognition, Validation and Competences Certification). They are aimed at recognizing the educational skills acquired through informal means of education throughout life. It allows for personal, social and professional appreciation. It is available to adults of all ages, although those aged between 18 and 23 are required to have at least 3 years of work experience.

- If you started but never finished secondary education, Qualifica allows you to. If you are 18 or older, you can complete your studies by studying in a traditional school or by completing training modules in National Qualification Catalogue. This is done either in public, private or cooperative schools or within Education and Training for Adults Courses (EFA)

- Qualifica has Language courses for speakers of other languages, towards the objective of acquiring Portuguese Nationality. Participants need to be 18 or older and have a valid residence permit in Portugal.

- At last, for those who have reached secondary education, there is the possibility of a Technological Specialization Course (CET). It lasts for approximately 1200 to 1560 hours and allows for a diploma and specialization in Technology.
At present IEFP has its headquarters in Lisbon, with dozens of other employment centers. There are 5 regional delegations on the North, Centre, Lisbon, Alentejo and Algarve regions, 30 employment and professional formation centres, 23 employment centers and 1 training and professional rehabilitation centre. You can find the one nearest to you at https://www.iefp.pt/redecentros.

At IEFP you may find jobs and training from a varied array of fields.
IEFP is a national public service whose main mission is improving job quality and job creation, while facing the challenges unemployment.
It does this in a variety of ways, within various contexts. On the one hand, IEFP might develop professional courses, put out information and guidance towards getting a job and how to further one’s career or provide qualification and professional rehabilitation.

Vocational Orientation
- For this purpose IEFP created the Professional Orientation Portal, which main objective is to help the individual through a process of self-discovery and identification of personal interests and skills.

- Here you will find various resources and events to help you reflect, practice and improve your career situation. This portal aims to help you make an informed choice as to what professional path you will follow, taking into account your personal characteristics and expectations. Based on your skills it will also suggest you ways of improving your employability and value on the labour market.

IEFP also promotes employability in several different ways, like:
Employment, besides what was already described as support to the employee, there are also supports to the employer, to increase the employment opportunities.
Internships, once again, there is also programs that support the employer financially, to increase these opportunities.
Training, not only training courses are developed and provide, but there is also the training cheque program to promote professional training.

Other kinds of supports includes entrepreneurship promotion, and promotion of employability with specific disadvantage targets, and in specific areas like craftsmanship.
Besides all the centres that exist throughout the country, there is an even more decentralized answer, that consist in the logistic and financial support of Centres of Professional integration that can be provided by other private or public, non profit organizations that are close to specific target groups.

You can find much more information on the IEFP site, specifically in the description of all the incentives and supports: https://iefponline.iefp.pt/IEFP/index2.jsp#
To contact IEFP, you have the option of sending an email to iefp.info@iefp.pt.

You may also contact them via phone call to the following numbers (+351) 215 803 555 and (+351) 300 010 001
Within IEFP you have a different system. You are required to be registered and with that come a few duties and rights. These can be viewed in detail here: https://iefponline.iefp.pt/IEFP/direitosDeveres.do

- By being registered you benefit from the needed interventions to improve your employability and a vast array of technical interventions and help channels.
- Being registered, IEFP offers all you need to improve your employability, look for a job and get hired for the job you want.
- IEFP offers several means of Support and various Incentives to Employability. Programs like ATIVAR.PT or Inserção and Inserção+ are intended to integrate unemployed people in the social fabric of where they live and it comes with extra financial support.
- By uploading your CV to IEFP, you also have the chance to find job opportunities there, since IEFP offers a wide range of job opportunities directly to their users.

- To maintain this you must keep IEFP updated of your employability status, status of residency, maternity, paternity or adoption and if you leave the country. You must prove that you are actively seeking for a job opportunity. You have to show up to meetings determined by the Job Services, accept the terms of support and jobs that are attributed to you, tailored to your profile.
- Failure to comply with these terms means the end of your registration.


Eucational options

ATEC, Cenjor, Ciccopn, Key, Fundação Juventude, SA Formação, Cefad, CECOA, Citeforma, Do it better
Generally speaking, these centres all offer various Training opportunities, generally certified by DGERT, the General Committee of Employability and Work Relations. Most of the trainings presented by these centres fit within the classification of professional training, but some also offer training that also qualifies as educational training.

To choose your VET education you simply need to find out which centre offers the type of education you are looking for, then apply and take part in the training course they offer to qualify you for the career you want. Most centres offer courses tailored to either young people or adults, so there are available options for all ages.

Some of these centres are widespread in the country, with several cities offering their services, while others work at a local range, within one city. Find out which ones are available to you.


Possible VET careers and how to get there

In Portugal, workers are needed in the following areas:
- Information and communications technologies (particularly IT engineers with very specific specialist profiles);
- Contact centres / business support centres and shared services centres (In the areas of sales, administration, human resources, accounting and management control), some professionals with very specific language skills which are difficult to find in Portugal;
- Health (doctors and nurses with different specialisations);
- Agriculture (seasonal employment), particularly fruit and vegetable picking;
- Construction (plumbers, electricians and other skilled workers).(3)

Both IEFP and Qualifica offer training and qualification within these sectors and in several dozens more sectors. The likelihood of a successful career depends on which career path you take. Different IEFP and Qualifica centres have different career and training options, so make sure to look for offers that are close to you, if you don’t wish to move. If you stick to the most looked for jobs, as listed above, you have a higher chance of finding a job in the future. Nevertheless, the labour market is in constant change, so keep yourself updated.
Taking the Qualifica centre “Insignare” as an example, you will find career opportunities such as Geriatric Agent, Sociocultural Animator, Cook, Restaurant employee, baker, Administrative Technician, Information and touristic animation Technician, Sales Technician, and many more. These paths, as in other centres, require increasingly more qualification, up to secondary education, 12th grade, in this case.

(3) https://ec.europa.eu/eures/main.jsp?catId=2645&lmi=Y&acro=lmi&lang=en&recordLang=en&parentId=&countryId=PT®ionId=PT0&nuts2Code=%20&nuts3Code=null&mode=shortages®ionName=National%20Level
People living in the interior of Portugal may stand at a geographical disadvantage in terms of job opportunities and movement. For this, IEFP has a job incentive to help workers that must travel from the interior to their job, called “Interior MAIS”. This incentive fits within the larger program “Trabalhar no Interior” approved by the Government.(4)

According to a study by McKinsey, CIP and Nova SBE, it was estimated that half of the work time invested by Portuguese workers could be carried out by automatized technologies. With this in mind it was said that 1,8 million Portuguese workers would have to improve their competences throughout the next 11 years if they wished to maintain their job. Jobs in which people operate machinery and carry predictable tasks in physical activity are the ones at most risk, whereas jobs that involve management of people, application of expertise and social interaction are regarded as safe. IEFP and Qualifica are great places to start in order to improve your qualifications and prevent yourself from getting left behind.

Traditionally the agriculture and construction sectors were the ones that employed most people, yet these have been losing market share in Portugal for the past 19 years, amounting to losses of 32,5% and 46% respectively. This must be taken into account when choosing these sectors for a career.

Portugal has had a great growth in terms of technology jobs. This has raised with it the problem of lack of technology talent. The supply of workers in the technology industry is not enough to fulfil the demand of labour in this sector. Statistics from 2018 showed that Portugal would need to 900 thousand more qualified workers in the technology sector to face the market needs. This has all occurred following the opening of several technological hubs by German companies and the Web Summit conferences.(1) This raises the need for more training in this sector as a solution for this demand.

According to the study “Educação e Emprego: Levar a juventude da Europa para o Trabalho”, the young Portuguese students are studying the wrong things. This entails a dissonance between the skills acquired in schools and universities and the skills requested of job recruiters. It was estimated, by a McKinsey study, that 30% of Portuguese recruiters do not hire because they do not find workers with the desired competences.(5)
As far as new forms of work organisation are concerned, part-time work in the country is still limited (only 7.3% of total employment compared to 19.1% for the EU-28), particularly among women (9.9%), when compared to the average of 31.2% female employment at EU-27 level.

At the end of June 2020, the number of unemployed persons registered with the employment services in Portugal stood at 406 665 (an increase of 108 500 – or 36.4% – compared to June 2019). Of these, 44.3% were men and 55.7% were women, and 33.4% of them had been registered for more than a year.

In terms of the country’s employment profile (INE Labour Force Survey, second quarter of 2020), agriculture, animal production, hunting, forestry and fishing employed 5.5% of the working population, industry, construction, energy and water 24.7%, and services around 70% (69.8%) of the working population.

Portugal continued to develop towards tertiarisation and digitisation, with a particular emphasis on vehicle trade and repair (close to 20% of employment in services), health and social support services (14.2%) and education (12.5%).

Hotels and restaurants was the most affected sector in this period, with a loss of around 40 500 jobs compared to the same period in 2019.

The real estate business sector was also affected, with a loss of around 6 000 jobs.

By contrast, information and communication activities (involving a high number of small and medium-sized businesses operating in software, web design, digital marketing and multimedia development, for example) recorded an increase of around 7% compared to 2019, with a net creation of over 9 000 jobs.

Transport and logistics showed certain stability, without significant losses, and now represents 6.5% of employment in the services sector.

The industry, construction, energy and water sector posted significant losses compared to 2019.

Manufacturing industries (which represent 16.8% of total employment) have nevertheless modernised and focused on innovation.

In current circumstances the health ‘cluster’ is significant, with pharmaceutical industries, moulds, plastics, electric and electronic equipment, textiles and the emerging biotechnology sector showing signs of vitality.

Traditional industries, such as footwear and clothing, have also committed to modernisation, resulting in more highly-skilled new jobs being created.(2)

(1) https://jornaleconomico.sapo.pt/noticias/o-mercado-de-trabalho-em-portugal-numa-nova-decada-digital-542322
(2) https://ec.europa.eu/eures/main.jsp?catId=2645&lmi=Y&acro=lmi&lang=en&recordLang=en&parentId=&countryId=PT®ionId=PT0&nuts2Code=%20&nuts3Code=null&mode=text®ionName=National%20Level
(4) https://iefponline.iefp.pt/IEFP/interiorMais.do?action=overview
(5) https://zap.aeiou.pt/30-dos-empresarios-nao-encontram-os-trabalhadores-de-que-precisam-14288


Additional information

First, if you are looking for a job or looking to improve your employability, registering on IEFP guarantees that you have support and guidance. IEFP serves as the Institutional starting point from where to pursue your professional ambitions.

When looking for a job it is important to first define your objectives. For this, you have at your disposal, vocational services from both IEFP and Qualifica, which will help you understand your skills, where they can take you and where you can improve.

Once you are better aware of your potential position in the labour market, that is, when you know what career path you want to go on and what qualifications you might need, IEFP has a wide range of training, job opportunities and connections to employers. By registering on IEFP and complying with their terms, you may get contacted for a job opportunity from them, while they make sure you keep looking for a job yourself (if you are receiving financial help). Besides thousands of actual job opportunities, IEFP has several Incentives and Support towards getting a job.

If you know where you want to go professionally speaking, but would benefit from more qualifications, you can look to both IEFP and Qualifica, keeping in mind that Qualifica was made purposefully to improve employability through gaining more qualifications.
Whether you haven’t finished basic education, secondary education or have a degree, Qualifica has an educational program for you, aimed at several professional sectors, such as: Sports, Graphic Design, Fine Arts, Teaching, Psychology, Economy and the list goes on to cover most of the professional sectors that exist in Portugal.
From here, either IEFP or Qualifica will redirect you to Training centres or Professional Schools which offer courses related to your career aspirations. There are small and big courses, depending on your objectives, courses may take anywhere from 25 hours to 2000 hours or more.

If you already possess the skills needed for a certain educational level but have not had them recognized and validated, you may try the RVCC processes (Recognition, Validation and Competences Certification), aimed at recognizing the educational skills acquired through informal means of education throughout life.

Knowing specifically what job you want, and having the skills to be productive at it, you should start your job search. IEFP offers the tools for job application and allows you to upload your CV there. It also has information on the best way to act in a job application and your potential employer.