The publication of Decree-Law no. 14/2017 26th January, which amends the legal framework of the National Qualifications System and republishes Decree-Law no. 396/2007, 31st December, establishes the following adult education and training structures:
- specialised adult qualification centres, currently called Centros Qualifica; basic and upper secondary schools.
- vocational training and retraining centres managed directly and via protocol.
- the centres of excellence created from high-quality training providers, such as vocational training protocol centres and other bodies with certified training capacity.
Qualifica Centres, regulated by Ordinance No. 62/2022, 31th January, can be set up by public or private bodies (providers), such as public basic and upper secondary education school clusters or non-clustered schools, directly or partially managed vocational training centres from the network of the Institute for Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP, IP), companies and associations or other bodies with significant territorial or sectorial importance and proven technical capacity regarding their sectors and end users, having been part of the contracted public network for at least five years.
In December 2022, the current centres network was made up of 316 centres across the mainland and the Autonomous Region of Madeira. Of these centres, 167 are organised by school clusters and non-clustered schools, 67 are directly or partially managed by employment and vocational training centres, 10 by local authorities and 72 by other bodies (including training companies, associations, not-for-profit bodies and private companies). Some centres are itinerant, seeking to reach a less mobile public or respond to concrete needs of strategic qualification partners.
The Qualifica Centres are specifically designed to provide candidates with information, counselling, guidance and referral for learning pathways, based on current qualification needs in the different areas and economic sectors. They are essential tools of the adult qualification strategy, with the fundamental premise not only of valuing learning acquired throughout life, but also the chance of increasing and developing skills through vocational training.
The Qualifica Centres' main focus is the qualification of adults based on the complementary nature of recognition, validation and certification of competences and the mandatory attendance of certified training.
The work of these bodies focusses on adults of 18 or older who want a qualification and, exceptionally, young people not attending education or training and who are not working.
The Centres are responsible for:
- mobilising adults in relation to lifelong learning processes
- organising and participating in geographical or sectorial partnership networks
- establishing protocols with other civil society organisations in relation to lifelong learning and adults' academic and vocational qualifications
- working closely with the public via itinerancy and using the facilities and equipment of local bodies and partners
- issuing and updating the guidance tool and individual record of qualifications and skills (Passaporte Qualifica)
- offering flexible qualifications that meet the needs and situations of the people they are designed for
- the guidance and referral of adults for pathways to qualification, monitoring their progress, whether organised by Qualifica Centres or another body
- undertaking RVCC processes at school, vocational or dual certification level, based on the qualifications included in the CNQ
- undertaking training as part of RVCC and the conclusion of qualification processes
- creating an assessment and certification committee
- supporting ANQEP’s recognition process for qualifications obtained abroad
- recording information on Qualifica Centre activity in SIGO
- training the respective team.
The Qualifica Centres also support ANQEP, IP in terms of defining criteria for the network’s structure and implementation of mechanisms for monitoring education and training.
The Qualifica Centres’ work focusses on:
- guidance, which includes an analysis of candidates’ profiles, assessing their life path and work experience, identifying qualification goals, diagnosing needs and proposing the most suitable qualification pathway for candidates, as well as for the needs of the labour market. This results in adults being referred to the RVCC, to training or to the Assessment and Certification Commission
- monitoring individual qualification pathways until candidates obtain the respective qualification, whether undertaken in Qualifica Centres or external training bodies, while ensuring that candidates receive an appropriate and timely response
- the recognition, validation and certification of competences, which identifies the skills developed by candidates throughout their lives
- training, which includes organising and delivering training courses for adults that offers access to qualifications
- issuing a qualification certificate or diploma.
The Qualifica Centre team is made up of a coordinator, guidance, recognition and validation of competence staff, as well as trainers or teachers from different key competence areas and various fields of education and training, as well as an administrative member of staff.
The Qualifica Centres are monitored by ANQEP, IP, which provides the members of the Government responsible for education and employment with monthly information on the monitoring findings and on the Centres' annual report, which should consider the annual self-evaluation.
If necessary, ANQEP, I.P. may request an audit or inspection of the Qualifica Centres by the General Inspection of Education and Science or the General Inspection of the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security. It may also use external audit and assessment services.
Regarding other types of education and training provision targeting adults, it is worth mentioning the other bodies providing adult education and training courses (EFA Courses) and certified modular training included in the National Qualifications Catalogue. These include public basic and upper secondary schools, private and cooperative schools with parallel pedagogy or recognition of public interest, vocational schools, vocational training centres and vocational retraining centres, training bodies overseen by other ministries, training bodies in other legal entities of public law and bodies with certified training frameworks in the private sector.