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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Support measures for learners in adult education and training


12.Educational support and guidance

12.7Support measures for learners in adult education and training

Last update: 30 March 2024

Definition of the target groups  

People who have not completed the 1st cycle of basic education

The Qualifica Programme has made a decisive contribution to improving adult qualifications and skills. However, attendance and completion rates of qualification programmes for adults with basic qualifications are poor.

In this context, the updating of the Key Competences Framework for adult education and training at basic level makes it possible to meet the specific qualification needs of adults with low-level and very low-level qualifications, who are illiterate or have insufficient literacy levels. This involves promoting the development of soft skills, professional competences and adaptation to technological and organisational changes, in line with the needs of the job market. To this end, the provision developed under the Basic Skills Training Programme was discontinued through the revocation of Ordinance No 1100/2010, 22 October.

The Local Projects Promoting Qualifications, which involves B1/B2/B3 level qualifications (foreseen in the RRP, under Resilience, Component 6 (C6) - Qualifications and Skills, Investment RE-C06-i03: Incentive for Adults) is also one of the measures of the National Adult Literacy Plan. This is part of the Qualifica Programme, which aims to promote learning and progress in literacy skills, especially for those with very few basic skills, targeting adults with very low-level qualifications (below grade 9, including no schooling). 

In this context, and bearing in mind the objective of the National Adult Literacy Plan, it is important to step up investment in the qualification of these adults, with the aim of obtaining higher levels of qualification, not only through training, namely EFA courses and certified modular training, but also through Skills Recognition, Validation and Certification (RVCC) processes.

The unemployed

In accordance with measures taken to consolidate and improve the Portuguese population’s standard of qualifications, particularly the unemployed, improving their employability, Ordinance No 203/2013, 17 June, determined that the training courses taught as part of the developed under the Active Life (Vida Ativa) strategy - QUALIFICA + aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of active employment measures and is designed for unemployed adults enrolled at Institute for Employment and Vocational Training (Instituto de Emprego e Formação Profissional - IEFP, I.P.) job centres and a Qualifica Centre, who boast qualifications that may vary between grade four and unfinished grade six; or unemployed adults who already have grade six, but did not finish grade nine. Training courses must include ICT in the basic training component and can be done via modular training courses, training in a work context or RVCC processes.

Foreign nationals living in Portugal

Having become an important aspect of contemporary societies, migratory movements have increasingly posed the challenge of finding a political model able of ensuring freedom and respect for the rights of every individual and group, regardless of their origin and subsequent growing social, linguistic and cultural diversification.

As such, talking about integration implies talking about citizenship, the right of having rights (civil, political and social), the democratic respect for pluralism, tolerance based on reciprocity and sharing, in order to build a more cohesive, just and humane society.

From this perspective, providing the individual migrant with knowledge of the language of the country is a responsibility of the host society, in order to give security when relating to others, in expressing themselves (what they think, feel, want, disagree about ...) and understanding others, because the right to equality and citizenship involves understanding the language and the culture underlying it, in different social contexts, in the various interpersonal relations there that are established via linguistic and non-linguistic action.

Specific support measures

The Methodological Guide for Persons with Disabilities Gaining Access to Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competences (RVCC) process – Basic Education Level was published in May 2009. This represented a special tool that supported the RVCC processes for competences acquired through formal, non-formal and informal ways, tailored to the specific demands of these sections of the population.

In 2010, the National Strategy on Disability 2011-2013 was approved via the publication of the Council of Ministers Resolution No 97/2010, 14 December. The National Strategy for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities 2021-2025 (Resolution of the Council of Ministers No 119/2021, 31 August) is currently in force. This legislation stipulates a set of measures to combat discrimination and improve living conditions of people with disabilities, impacting on vocational training, employment and lifelong qualification, in which the training frameworks and respective vocational profiles tailored to people with disabilities are included in the National Qualifications Catalogue (Catálogo Nacional de Qualificações  - CNQ).

These training pathways, which aim to help people with disabilities improve their qualifications, facilitating employability and promoting lifelong learning, include a training component for integration, a technological training component, a practical training component and a basic training component organised according to the Methodological Guide for Persons with Disabilities Gaining Access to Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competences Process – Basic Education Level. They are tailored to people with disabilities of various kinds, such as sensory, physical, mental or multiple disabilities, and last between 2,900-3,600 hours.

The training sessions are organised by the IEFP, I.P. as a public employment service that conducts vocational retraining in conjunction with ANQEP, I.P. and the Retraining Bodies Federations (Federações das Entidades de Reabilitação), with the retraining bodies also acting as  training bodies.

2023 and part of 2024 (May) is European Year of Skills and an important year, due to the various commitments and responsibilities to be adopted. Portugal has a specific work programme via Pessoas 2030, that prioritises investment in the adult population with concrete goals. This involves funding more training and more qualifications via Qualifica Centres, Qualification and Vocational Education Centres, apprenticeship courses and adult education and training courses.

For more information, see Subchapter 3.3 Adult education and training funding.

People who have not completed the 1st cycle of basic education

Local Projects Promoting Qualifications B1/B2/B3 Level are aimed at adults with low levels of qualifications (less than Grade 9), including adults who have no level of schooling at all. To qualify the adults covered by a Local Project, the competence units of the basic level key competences reference framework (Referencial de Competências-Chave de Nível Básico - RCC-NB) are used via existing processes in the National Qualifications System (SNQ), namely: EFA courses, certified modular training and the Skills Recognition, Validation and Certification (RVCC) process. 

Short and medium-term courses can also be mobilised: 

  • the "Digital Skills Certificate" programme, with CUs equivalent to levels B2 and B3. 
  • "Portuguese as a host language", with CUs equivalent to the RCC-NB, in the area of CLC key competences, at levels B1, B2 and B3; 
  • Training in any CU of the RCC-NB, given by qualified trainers for levels B1, B2 and B3, developed and certified by the Qualifica Centre under the Local Project.

Foreign nationals living in Portugal

Implementing the provisions of Ordinance No 183/2020, 5 August, with wording given by Ordinance No 184/2022, 21 July, the National Qualifications Catalogue has a set of 12 short training units (Unidades de Formação de Curta Duração  - UFCD) in the area of Portuguese as a host language to meet the needs of foreign nationals living in Portugal. The short training units for elementary users cover A1 and A2 levels of language proficiency, while the training units for independent users cover B1 and B2 levels. There is also a short course of graphics and the alphabet in Portuguese for users of other writing systems, for students who use an alphabet other than Latin or another writing system.

The courses are organised by public school network, the IEFP centres network and the Qualifica Centre network and are taught by teachers working in the area of Portuguese teaching, preferably with specific training in teaching Portuguese as a foreign language or second language, or by trainers duly certified in the same field.