1. Summary of desk research

1.1 In Portugal, adults’ participation in lifelong learning has been experiencing a very positive development. With values well below the European average over the past decade – in 2005 only 4% of adults participating in education and training activities compared to 9.6% on average in the EU27, a significant progression of this indicator was recorded since then: in 2013, almost 10% of adults aged 25 to 64 years old participated in LLL activities.

Portugal has a similar pattern to Europe. The LLL participation rate of the low-skilled has always been much lower than the one of the high-skilled, although it has had a very significant increase, especially between 2000 and 2010.

Although Portugal has been able to increase adult participation in lifelong learning, there are still a huge number of “discouraged” and “resistant” adults. The resistant to lifelong learning are mainly low educated and older individuals. The discouraged to lifelong learning although they are younger, still half of them have low educational levels.

In our State of play we highlight the following items:

  • Background and context of situation in Portugal. Progress in adults’ participation in LLL
  • Low skills and LLL in Portugal
  • Resistance and discouragement for LLL
  • Participation in formal education and continuing investment in VNFIL
  • The role of employers and non-formal education
  • Unemployment: LLL as an important activation measure
  • Local communities and partnerships for LLL
  • Policy Recommendations to improve the implementation of Lifelong Learning
  • Updates and outcomes from our national Forum (15.04.23 – Setúbal) and regional Forums (15.09.24 – Lisboa; 15.10.01 – Matosinhos; 15.10.15 – Lisboa and 15.12.02 – Évora)

1.2 Some key points of the state of the art regarding LLL-policies

  • In terms of policy challenges, results show that any effort to raise LLL participation in Portugal and make it a reality for all needs to: (1) take into account the real impressive number of discouraged and resistant adults to participate in lifelong learning; (2) be well targeted and particularly focussed on their motivations and obstacles to learning, as these individuals may be the most difficult to convince for lifelong learning; (3) address especially their intrinsic motivations by providing meaningful learning opportunities that help low educated adults’ self-confidence and skills improvement throughout life; (4) and finally, provide also access and progress in formal education, since low education attainment persistently reduces the likelihood of further participation in lifelong learning.
  • Recognition of prior learning and vocational guidance are key. Public policies should envisage the needs of two types of unemployed workers: graduates entering the labour market and long term unemployed workers that are less educated and qualified. Access to guidance should be provided at the public level. The age limit should also be reconsidered in today’s socio-economic contexts.
  • In the field of LLL the national strategic legislative basis are in line with EU policy recommendations and frameworks but still Portugal have to continue improve LLL with flexible pathways with the involvement of political actors and stakeholders especially employers, higher education and vocational education and training and also in providing the training of trainers and teachers constant adaptation of the new realities.
  • Recognize the importance of promoting training in the workplace more closely, so that young people or adult learners can have a proper training and a tutor to assist in their training.
  • Open up education through new technologies.
  • Recommend implementation and development of LLL policies within a new training and legislation framework, as required for the demographic, social and economic trends for the next years (decades?).
  • There are recent efforts to introduce partnership between regional authorities (CIM) and national authorities focus in reduce the deficit qualification and certification of local people and promoting their employability.
  • As the world changes it is recommended that change (innovation) in policy in general to reach the LLL in all ages with results in economic contexts and society. Must be a key point attention systematically.

The public policies should:

  • Foster the discussion at the political and “operational”/organizational level in order to promote more involvement of the community.
  • Promote the sharing of knowledge, practices and meanings by using platforms and fostering communities of practice.
  • Take into account the needs of unemployed young graduates, the low-skilled unemployed and the long-term unemployed graduates, aged up to 35. An adjustment of training to market needs for people aged up to 35 should me made;
  • Focus on the acceptance for jobs not only for training;
  • Provide mixed solutions to more adults in middle age to improve education, otherwise in two decades people will be still in the labour market without qualifications.
  • Stimulate cooperation in LLL with flexible pathways providing the involvement of political actors and stakeholders especially employers, higher education and vocational education and training and also by providing the training of trainers and teachers constant adaptation of the new strategies;
  • Strengthen partnerships as a response to the multi-dimensionality and complexity of the problems related to LLL and to produce innovators products/results:
  • Recognize the inadequacy of the qualifications of professionals with middle ages in relation to market needs; promote adequate training for continuing recognition for the labor market.
  • Recognize the need for increased social skills on young people and promote LLL in formal, informal and non-formal settings, from childhood.
  • Promote the acquisition and development of skills throughout life recognizing the benefits for the employability, competitiveness and innovation in Portugal.
  • Reveal our national LLL “state of the art”, by highlighting the need to make proceedings more flexible, whether is formal, non-formal or informal learning;
  • Prove LLL is a result of a mix of different, specific actors – enterprises, employment market, aging, unions, education and training systems, schools and training centers, teachers and trainers, and, most important, the learner himself, which must be the focus of all these key factors;
  • Draw attention to the need that organizations and communities that are involved in LLL process must share social responsibility and common strategies (enterprises, unions, schools or associations for ethnic inclusion), in order to achieve goals and preserve learner-centered paths;
  • It is important to have practice in companies, not only for secondary school but also in Higher school but in this partnership the commitment of the stakeholders in receiving learners to learn by practicing is necessary.

2. Summary of practical results


  • In Portugal the main challenge for LLL is to define polices and strategies that enable coherent cooperation between public and private institutions and consider different social demographic profiles.
  • The fostering of LLL requires the recognition of prior learning, vocational guidance and mapping of competences, as well as the enhancement of communication and interaction between and within public and private institutions. So far this has been done randomly by some private and public organisations with little interaction between them.
  • A the national level, there appears to be a need to discuss and design new methodologies to map, monitor and disseminate good practices that have been identified in a considerable number of organisations that have promoted LLL as a means to booster inclusion, to promote employability, active aging and career re-orientation. The rates of adult vocational training participation are below the European average and there is no attention to social inclusion of disadvantaged groups or people with low qualifications.
  • Although there are a number of platforms and networks about LLL, designed by different organisations national and European, the incorporation of the information in common platform, publicly accessible to all, would facilitate not only the dissemination of knowledge and practices, but also the convergence of models and methodologies; thus fostering political intervention in this field.

2.2 Most important outcomes of our complementary Forums

As mentioned above, four more forums were held in 2015 (please read more at our state of play) that complement each other in their specificities, namely: formal learning, non-formal, informal and  higher education research on LLL. The most relevant recommendations that stand out:

Encourage the actors of good-practices to participate in events disseminating successful experiences in similar environments (creation of self-employment, entrepreneurship, senior employment, and people with special needs).

  • Propose to the national recognition strategies authorities the implementation of validation and certification of knowledge and skills learned in informal and / or non-formal environments.
  • Promote and encourage active citizenship experiences and social inclusion emphasising on disadvantaged or low-skilled groups
  • Promote better communication between local organizations and state institutions to harmonize the mapping profiles and skills.
  • Share with other non formal educational institutions informal learning experiences that foster the recognition and valuation of acquired knowledge, particularly relevant for employability of young people from disadvantaged environments.
  • Recommend to public authorities not to change rules in the middle of the process or training/education cycles.
  • Streamline initiatives to promote the standardization and dissemination of information, access and update networks and LLL platforms already existing in Europe.
  • To consider measures to encourage and promote the participation of adults in training activities which, as our colleagues from Spain showcased (Évora Fórum, 02 december), are with indexes below the European average.

The main recommendations were in full description:

  • A complete, continuous educational programme that promotes competences, techniques and soft skills as well as the need to recognize and validate informal and non-formal learning;
  • to improve communication between education/training actors and companies to carry out the education and training to market;
  • The centrality of the school is critical along with technical training and the recognition of the different steps of formal, non-formal and informal learning.
  • In Commission meetings regarding education the universities must be represented besides the IEFP for the construction of appropriate programmesm taking into account the market needs and the development of social skills, techniques, TIC and foreign languages.
  • The importance of influencing public policies is emerging, in order to improve education and lifelong learning, promoting the social inclusion of disadvantaged groups or people with low qualifications and the recognition of informal and non-formal learning.
  • Public policies should envisage the needs of two types of unemployed workers: graduates entering the labour market and long term unemployed workers that are less educated and qualified.
  • We need to create the future and the school cannot substitute the needs of the companies, it is important to create the opportunity to listen to all actors.
  • Ensure that all citizens develop a more entrepreneurial mindset.
  • The university must teach, learn, investigate and cooperate with society.
  • The LLL-Hub promotes dialogue with different actors in lifelong learning
  • Certification, Recognition and validation of informal and non-formal learning.
  • In the field of LLL the national strategic legislative basis is in line with EU policy recommendations and frameworks but still Portugal have to continue improving LLL with flexible pathways and with further involvement of political actors and stakeholders, especially employers, higher education and vocational education. Also provide training to trainers and teachers with constant adaptation of the new realities.

3. Our ‘prominent fact’

The most emphasised point in the Portuguese forums (one national and four with specific groups and topics) was the need for designing medium and long term coherent national policies and strategies for LLL. The commitment of all actors involved is key for the promotion of LLL, thus these strategies should foster the involvement of the different social actors and contemplate different social-demographic groups.

Some critical factors for LLL success are the valid methodologies of mapping competences and skills and the recognition of prior learning. Another key factor is the access of older people to training programmes, as well as the adequacy of the training programmes regarding the needs of the trainees and the organisations. Thus, flexibility of training programmes is also critical to promote LLL and to foster trainee and organisation/company involvement. Last but not least, the design of common and accessible platforms and networks for knowledge sharing is crucial.

4. Some main axis of progress for the next period (until 2020) to foster the convergence within Europe

Despite the fact that for the first time an approach to LLL strategies (and Adult Education) becomes prioritized in the Government Programme, presented and approved last December 2015, it is still distant from the Recommendations and Conclusions that we reached in the project Forum and Labs.

Portugal, in our view has still a lot of hard work to do in order to achieve the level of attainment at European level. So, it is expected that continued effort must be put regarding:

  • Perseverance to achieve the targets and objectives of the EU 2020 strategy for E&T and a more accurate and efficient use of the funding of Portugal 2020 programme at the Erasmus plus and Horizon 2020 (perhaps also at Cosme programme);
  • To maintain a culture of social dialogue trough more national platforms for LLL and converge aims and objectives at EU level;
  • To state a vision for LLL in Portugal emerging from the social dialogue of stakeholders trough empowering networks like Pt Learning Working Group (lwgportugal.org) and the involvement and participation of decision makers;
  • To reactivate the programme’s new opportunities, introducing lessons learnt, in order to converge qualifications of the working force and the population in general;
  • To make digital learning a vision for learning improvement and tackle the low levels of productivity that Portugal presents

5. Relevant links, websites, etc. to a national strategy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDvekmMbTEo Forum Matosinhos



















View and Download Portuguese National State of Play Report