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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Quality assurance in adult education and training


11.Quality assurance

11.2Quality assurance in adult education and training

Last update: 30 March 2024

The reform of the education and vocational training (VET) system by the  Resolution of the Council of Ministers No 173/2007, 7 November) focussed on both young people and adults. As such, measures for monitoring and assessing dual certification provision are geared towards these groups.

Decree-Law No 92/2014, 20 June establishes the legal framework for private and public vocational schools in non-higher education, regulating their creation, organisation and operation, as well as the state’s authority and supervision.

In 2017, the Portuguese government requested support from the European Commission for the implementation of an adult education and training quality assurance model via the Structural Reform Support Programme.

Following this request, the European Commission appointed the OECD, in liaison with national government bodies, to identify and help employ strategies to implement a quality assurance model, considering good practices and lessons learned from other countries facing similar challenges.  

During the initial stage, the OECD should present an analysis of the situation in Portugal, considering all entities involved in the different aspects of quality assurance in adult education and training.

This analysis was the starting point for the quality assurance in adult education and training project developed by ANQEP, I.P. as part of the work for the European Agenda for Adult Education.

Responsible bodies

As part of its responsibilities, the National Agency for Qualification and Vocational Education (ANQEP, I.P.) developed and implemented a series of measures to ensure the quality of the system, including:

  • the Qualifica Centre Quality Charter, which defines the indicators and quality standards of the organisation and functioning of the centres.
  • training for Qualifica Centre trainers and staff, as part of capacity-building for professionals working on the different stages of the centres’ remit, such as the diagnosis, referral and recognition, validation and certification of skills.
  • monitoring visits to the Qualifica Centres in conjunction with DGeSTE and IEFP, I.P.
  • local monitoring plans, annually defined at national and local level, involving central and regional departments of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Economy and Sea, as well as the body responsible for European Social Fund management.
  • consolidation of the Information and Management System of the Education and Training Provision (Sistema de Informação e Gestão da Oferta Educativa e Formativa - SIGO), which allowed simultaneous monitoring of Qualifica Centre activities, as well as self-regulation of institutions in the field and speedier up decision making. Indicators from SIGO allow the monthly monitoring of the activity of the Qualifica Centres network and of the training entities.
  • national external evaluation study of vocational courses.
  • national and international external evaluation study of New Opportunities Initiative – adults.
  • national external evaluation study of education and training courses (EFA) and specialised artistic courses (CAE).

Approaches and methods for quality assurance

External evaluation of adult education and training

As part of the implementation of the New Opportunities Initiative (current Qualifica Programme), a review of the adult education sector was commissioned by the National Qualification Agency (ANQ, I.P.) (currently ANQEP, I.P.) and entrusted to a team of researchers from the Universidade Católica Portuguesa (from 2009 to 2010), focussing on two major fields of current adult education and training policies:

  • the first assessment area was geared towards the production, processing and analysis of indicators regarding the achievement of strategic objectives for adults and operation of the centres.
  • the second assessment area includes the monitoring and self-evaluation of the network and the performance and degree of organisational maturity of the centres and the adult qualification system as a whole.

In 2012, a study was conducted on the performance of adult graduates in the employment market. Split into two studies, this evaluation, which was conducted by Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) in response to a request from the ANQEP, I.P., sought to assess the performance of adults in the process of Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competences (RVCC), on adult education and training courses (EFA Courses) and certified modular training in the employment market, considering two aspects (employability and salaries).

In 2017, the 21st Portuguese government and OECD began collaborating for the National Skills Strategy, to identify concrete measures to improve adult education and training, specifically targeting adults with low qualifications. This study resulted in an evaluation and a set of recommendations for this sector. Published in 2018, it was entitled, "Implementation Guide for the Skills Strategy for Portugal: consolidating the adult education and training system". This study evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the Qualifica Programme, among other aspects.

Here, it can be considered the external evaluations undertaken as part of the Global Evaluations Plan of PT2020, namely:

- evaluation of Portugal 2020’s contribution to improving adult qualification and employability.  

- evaluation of Portugal 2020’s contribution to improving adult qualification and the quality of jobs of adults in employment

In relation to the external evaluation of education and training provision for young people, see Subchapter 11.1 - Quality Assurance in Pre-School and School Education.

Monitoring of education and training provision for adults

Since 2007, ANQEP, I.P. (former ANQ, I.P.) developed and implemented monitoring models for education and training provision for adults, which included AET courses, Certified Modular Training and Qualifica Centres (formerly called Centros Novas Oportunidades and Centros para a Qualificação e o Ensino Profissional).

In 2017, teams were created to monitor the activity of Qualifica Centres, as part of a relaunch of adult education and training and the activities of the Qualifica Centres network, as well as improving their responsiveness.

These monitoring teams are made up professionals from ANQEP, I.P., from IEFP, I.P. regional services and from DGEstE regional services. They are responsible for:

  • monitoring the work of each centre in its area (NUT II) by analysing the monthly information provided by ANQEP, I.P.
  • supporting the work of the Qualifica Centres teams of the respective NUT II.
  • supporting activities to mobilise the adult population.
  • carry out follow-up visits to the Qualifica Centres of the respective NUT II.
  • systematise the work carried out as part of the team's responsibilities, on a monthly basis.
  • participate in the network coordination and monitoring meetings with ANQEP, I.P.
  • providing training for Qualifica Centre teams.

Alongside continuous investment in training, individualised follow-up and monthly monitoring of the main performance indicators of the Qualifica Centres network, the Quality Charter is one of the main tools for consolidating quality assurance in adult qualification. The Qualifica Centres see the Quality Charter as a benchmark for their work, in terms of the quality of the service provided and the levels of efficiency and effectiveness achieved, and for ANQEP's intervention in the management and regulation of the network.

In relation to the monitoring of education and training provision for young people, see Subchapter 11.1 - Quality Assurance in Pre-School and School Education. This subchapter has information about EQAVET - European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training and the Portuguese model for the Level 4 provision of the National Qualifications Framework (QNQ).