On the 28th of July 2021 social partners with a seat in the Permanent Commission for Social Concertation (Comissão Permanente de Concertação Social – CPCS), and the government signed a “New Agreement for Vocational Training and Qualifications”*.
The Government (Ministry of Labour) convened a working group with the participation of the Ministry of Education, of social partners, regulatory agencies of VET and Dual VET, education and training experts, and the association for private VET schools, to discuss the proposals put forward by the different participants in the working group and to discuss the policy measures contained in this new Agreement.
One of the measures contemplated in this Agreement, and that had already been foreseen in the National Plan for Economic and Social Stabilisation 2020 (Plano de Estabilização Económica e Social 2020 – PEES) and the National Plan for Economic Recovery 2020-2030 (Plano de Recuperação Económica- PRR), is the upgrading of the qualification level in the Apprenticeship system (creation of level V Apprenticeship courses).
The issue of level V in the Apprenticeship system is an old discussion shared by the different social partners and the purpose, as expressed in the Agreement is to extend the Apprenticeship System to Level 5 of the National Qualifications Framework (Quadro Nacional de Qualificações – QNQ) in order to deepen the dual training experience, to intermediate qualification levels in areas of strong qualification levels and of strong employability and to consider the labour market needs” (p.14-15).
Other measures foreseen in this Agreement aim at the reinforcement of the participation of social partners in the governance structures concerning the improvement of their involvement and contributions to the development of VET and Dual VET policies. “The implementation of the Agreement shall be annually the object of discussion and evaluation in the Standing Committee for Social Dialogue and the Permanent Committee of Social Concertation, accompanied by a work group integrating the Government and the Social Partners that shall be created immediately to prepare the timetable and action plan referred to in the previous items and which shall function in ways to be defined jointly” (p.18).
However, the Agreement seems to have not met the expectations of General Confederation of the Portuguese Workers(Confederação Geral de Trabalhadores Portugueses – CGTP) who argued that “matters considered fundamental for workers are absent in the document proposed by the Government in Social Concertation, besides the insufficient and sometimes inadequate nature of the measures put forward, namely, the non-acceptance of social partner’s involvement in the monitoring of the training provided. For this social partner this measure would contribute to the reinforcement of the quality of training and the adequacy to the workers’ needs.
The creation of shorter courses dual VET based is also contemplated in this Agreement aiming the reinforcement of qualifications through Dual VET in the country.
* Acordo “Formação Profissional e Qualificação: Um Desígnio Estratégico para as Pessoas, para as Empresas e para o País” https://www.portugal.gov.pt/pt/gc22/comunicacao/documento?i=acordo-de-formacao-profissional-e-qualificacao-assinado-entre-governo-e-parceiros-sociais