Skip to main content
European Commission logo
EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Main providers


8.Adult education and training

8.3Main providers

Last update: 8 June 2022

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.

In terms of specialised adult qualification centres, Ordinance no. 232/2016, 29th August, regulates the Qualifica Centres network. 

Qualifica Centres 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 2021, the current centres network was made up of 310 centres across the mainland and the Autonomous Region of Madeira. Of these centres, 169 are organised by school clusters and non-clustered schools, 66 are directly or partially managed by employment and vocational training centres, 11 by local authorities and 64 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:

(a) information, guidance and candidate referral for vocational education and training, based on different types of qualification and matching existing provision with candidates' profiles, needs, motivations and expectations and job market dynamics.

b) the recognition, validation and certification of competences developed by adults throughout life by formal, informal and non-formal means, via school, professional domains or dual certification, based on the reference frameworks of the National Qualifications Catalogue.

(c) information and outreach designed for young people and adults, businesses and other employers regarding vocational education and training provision, as well as the importance of lifelong learning.

d) organisation of and participation in geographical-based partnership networks which, within vocational education and training, contribute to more integrated and consistent intervention, identifying qualification needs and useful responses for the population, in particular to facilitate the flagging and identification of young people outside the education and training system and help them find the most appropriate qualification.

e) monitoring candidates referred to different qualification pathways.

The Qualifica Centres also support the National Agency for Qualification and Vocational Education (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 the individual and the fundamental stages of: reception; information and guidance; referral; training; recognition, validation and certification of competences. These stages are undertaken by the teams at each Qualifica Centre, which are 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. This team can also be supported by an administrative member of staff, who is managed by the coordinator and guidance, recognition and validation 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 inspections of the Qualification Centres by the General Inspection of Education and Science or IEFP, I.P.

The Qualifica Centre network operations, results and impacts may be subject to regular external assessment by bodies of recognised merit and competence.

Regarding other types of education and training provision targeting adults, it is worth mentioning all 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.