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PT
Vocational courses 
Conclusions (> Conclusões)
National conclusions: Portugal

Lourenço Frazão, Teresa Oliveira &  Fátima Santos
Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia - Ciências da Educação

April 2000

Reference to national case study on PT: Vocational courses and to topic study EL/PT on new job skills incl. workshop.


The Portuguese participation in the DUOQUAL PROJECT „Qualifications with a dual orientation towards employment and higher education in Portugal“ – was based on a case study. The framework of this study was to understand the Portuguese context and exchange knowledge with other countries related to dual qualification. Thus, different models of dual qualification in our Educational System were studied to highlight the most relevant aspects of which one and compared to the reality of other Europeans countries involved in the project. 

The analysis of the dual qualification was related to the following aspects:

  • National context in economic, social and educational terms;
  • Access to higher education and to labour market;
  • Relationship between theoretical and practical training;
  • Evaluation of the success of the different models.
This study allows to highlight, the existence of different level of implementation and success of the models, the different target group of the students attend this education/training model and of social recognition and social status given of the other courses, in the countries involved with the project. The lack of social recognition and social status of VET is emphasised in the countries were youth choice is traditionally oriented to generalist higher education. However, it is possible to find same identical problems in the countries where vocational and technical courses are the strongest option of the students.

The results allow us to infer that the young students that finish vocational secondary education have more compliance to enter into the job market that those who came from general courses. Nevertheless, it is clear that there are differences salaries between workers coming from vocational courses and those coming from other courses, specially in countries where vocational and technical courses don’t have a very long tradition. In Portugal, recent studies refer that the search for vocational qualification in same areas seems to be reverting this process.

The implementation of dual qualification created, in young people, new perspectives of access to the labour market. This fact is related to a better competence development given by the professional qualification of the dual models. However, in this study and for different reasons it wasn’t possible to investigate on the field and in legislative terms same of the implicit presupposition to the development of dual training model, such as:

  • Implementation of professional stages or alternating training to all existing courses;
  • Establishment of protocols with the companies from the surrounding school influence area;
  • Conciliation of the theoretical component with the practical and experimental activities.
  • Transferable of the new job skills to different organisational environments and contexts according to competencies development specially.
The demands of modern society create new vocational courses based on a global training and centred in the individual while citizen and in favour of competitiveness factor. Portugal tried to answer these demands with the curricular reform of 1989/90. In 2001/02 a new curricular reform will be implemented. This last reform readjusting the secondary school curricula, is more focused in the individual needs and in the environment realities, clearing the differences between the general and vocational courses.

The stronger link between vocational training and labour market, that is planned now, will be easier with the new role of the school as a dynamic agent to the local, social, economic and cultural context. The participation and collaboration of both schools and companies will stimulate an interactive development of knowledge and skills.

In the Portuguese study, it was given emphasis to the importance of the development of new job skills in young people. The interest of this subject is based on the transferable skills to different activities and work context, and seems to facilitate the social-professional placement of young in the labour market. At the same time the new jobs skills give them more self-confidence for the development of their professional activities and a perception of the fast obsolesce of technical skills opening the perspective for long live learning.

The teachers and trainers qualification for the Educational and Vocational Training were also object of study. Possible proposals were studied in order to give to teachers and trainers a wither group of technical, pedagogical and social skills, able to promote in young people the development of new job skills. In Portugal there is no kind of specific training for teachers and trainers of vocational education. The teachers are posted in the educational system according to their initial academic training. They have pedagogic training and they can transit from the general courses to vocational ones, that in many schools have the same physical space. Regarding trainers, they usually came from companies and don’t have pedagogical training.

Parallel to the national study, it was developed a join topic with Greece about „Dual Qualification: New Job Skills and the Youth Placement in the Labour Market“. This comparative study was very interesting, because it demonstrated the opinion of young people of both countries about the new job skills. This study was developed in two steps. The first step was the comparation between the new job skills that young people had in initial training and the ones that, in their opinion, were developed in school. The second step compared the importance of the new job skills for the development of professional activity. The students had to answer the following question: „How important do you consider each of the following skills in the performance of your daily tasks“. The study aims to compare how young people in professional placement process consider the role of the school in the development of these skills. The students had to answer the following question „In what extent your school helped you to acquire the following skills: working in a team, using a foreign language, using a computer, planning, budgeting and managing tasks“. 

This study interested the partners of Austria, Germany (Bavaria) and United Kingdom (Scotland). The manifested interest of these partners is related to the implications that the development of new job skills has at the curricular structure, at teachers training, at companies relationship with local community. All these partners are considered these aspects because they are involved in a pilot project with such issues.

Trying to establish new theoretical concepts related to Higher Order Skills, it was promoted in Lisbon a Workshop. Ideas are debated for the strategies development of that would better adjust to the realities of each country, to make this teaching / learning model more attractive and to enlarge their social recognition. Based on the Austria, Germany, and United Kingdom experiences, the effort to improve the relationship between vocational courses and the economical system is a positive way to fulfil those strategies. 

The fact of the courses that confer a dual qualification are less attractive to young people seems to be related to job orientation. The curricular structure of these courses might limit a professional carrier with a more generalist training. In the specific case of Portugal, most students wish to attend higher education. Consequently, the excessive concern about their success in the national examination towards higher education implies an extra charge of theoretical contents in VET courses. This fact has been damaging the creation of new vocational courses.

A solid and enlarged training based on the new job skills is understood as a way to help young people to face their personal and professional confidante, and alerting them for the demands of long life learning. The bet in skilled, gifted young people, motivated, full of energy, creativity and new ideas, is a determinate factor that can contribute in a large scale to the development of the EU. 

The results of the DUOQUAL project study allow us to suggest same recommendations to improve the curricular structure and the participation of the intervenient in the educational process. Therefore, we find pertinent the following questions:

  • To evaluate the importance of the new job skills in the individual training, it’s influence on the social professional placement and in competitiveness;
  • To establish scientific cooperation between several countries; 
  • To compare the possible significant aspects for implementing VET model regarding to the specific realities of each countries;
  • To define which new job skills are more relevant to the individual training, answering to the social economic paradigm demands;
  • To study the modular qualification system by credit units as the one in development at United Kingdom;
  • To foment and reinforce the training in work context through training periods and/or alternating periods between school - enterprise with qualified teachers and trainers escort;
  • To provide training to the companies and school tutors;
  • To promote a better cooperation and participation in school life between employers and of educational community;
  • To improve the articulation between secondary school and higher education;
  • To legislate of teacher and trainers training of vocational courses in such way that both receive pedagogic training leading to the knowledge or labour realities.
Aware of the limitations of this study, however, we feel that it’s a contribute to the reflection around the education/training of young people and the new job skills development, as well as for individual training of students while human resources in the actual European strategic context regarding competitiveness.

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