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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Lifelong learning strategy


2.Organisation and governance

2.2Lifelong learning strategy

Last update: 6 February 2024

Portugal is committed to pursuing the European Union’s aim to set up a European Education Area (EEA) by 2025, following the Europe 2020 Strategy and the strategic agenda (2019-2024).

Among the EEA 2025 objectives Portugal pursues are the following:

  • promoting diversity, inclusion and equity.
  • promoting the green and digital transition.
  • providing support to boost teacher and trainer qualifications and motivation.
  • promoting higher education and cooperation among higher education institutions, thus consolidating the geopolitical aspect of cooperation between European bodies and partners to facilitate internationalisation.

The country shares the vision of needing to improve the skills levels of its citizens. This is reflected in the Council’s recommendation on trajectories for the development of skills and new opportunities for adults, in the European Skill Agenda and the European agenda for adult learning 2021-2030.

Taking a strategic position, aims include increasing mobility, promoting the European aspect of education, as well as international cooperation in education and training and higher education.

The following documents are strategically important to Portugal:  

In Portugal, lifelong learning got a major boost in 2016 with the creation of the Qualifica Programme, which signalled a strong political commitment to improving the population’s qualification and employability levels.

This programme has stipulated quantitative targets for increasing the number of adults with low levels of basic skills and qualifications, proving an important part of the political agenda with 2023 being the European Year for Skills, which focusses on boosting qualifications, employability and recognition of skills.

The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan boasts the most ambitious EU target to date, aiming for at least 60% annual participation of adults in education and training by 2030. This target was ratified in May 2021 during the Porto Social Summit and assumed by Portugal.

In 2017, a change in the National Qualifications System (Decree-Law No 14/2017, 26 January) allowed the creation of the National Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (which enables the coherent crediting of training units and greater mobility and flexibility in training pathways) and the Qualifica Passport (a mechanism for guidance and individual registration of qualifications and skills), measures that revitalised the adult education and training sector.  

For additional information on the National Qualifications system and the Qualifica Programme, see Chapter 8 – Adult Education and Training.

A year after the initial implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Plan, Portugal continues its strategic vision until 2026, focussing on Portugal’s social, economic and financial recovery, where citizens’ qualification and training are cornerstones. The country’s resilience will focus on improving young people and adults’ skills and their ability to function in an increasingly digital world, where science and innovation should encourage differentiated and innovative teaching strategies, while the education and training system should facilitate citizens’ lifelong learning. 

For additional information on the Resilience Plan, see Chapter 14 – Ongoing reforms and policy developments.

In terms of lifelong learning strategies, it is important to mention the European programmes in place in successive community frameworks. Currently, Portugal implements the new  community framework and the new Erasmus+ Programme 2021-2027, the EU's programme for education, training, youth and sport.

In the area of education and training this programme is managed by the National Agency for ERASMUS + Education and Training (Agência Nacional Erasmus+ Educação e Formação), created via the Resolution of the Council of Ministers No 15/2014, 24 February. This agency is also responsible for internationalisation, as well as for the management of the National Student Accommodation in Higher Education Plan (PNAES 2022-2026), with PRR funding. The National Agency’s mandate was extended for the duration of the current Erasmus+ Programme 21|27 via the Resolution of the Council of Ministers No 115/2021, 12 August. The mandate of the Erasmus+ Youth in Action National Agency (youth and sport) was also extended via the Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 113/2021, 18 August 2021. 

For additional information on the Erasmus+ Programme, see Chapter 13 - Mobility and Internationalisation.