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The offer of vocational courses may differ widely across regions. The biggest national surprise in terms of the number of offers and enrollments were the Sports courses.

Between 2016/17 and 2018/19, the country's education institutions opened 19 Diagnosis and Therapy courses and over 600 Sports courses.

Transitioning to secondary education implies choosing a study area, which will be even more specific for the nearly 40% of the students who opt for vocational paths. Let us look at the options available for students in mainland Portugal.

After analysing the incidence of vocational courses in each region, in different training and education areas, we have identified the top 6 most offered courses. This incidence is based on the number of students enrolled for the first time over the last three academic years (2016/2017 to 2018/2019) and on the courses that have actually opened in each region. The indicator used in this analysis is the distribution percentile of each training and education area, taking into account the total number of available courses and enrolled students.

The three leading courses in the Top 6 are Hotel and Restaurant Management, with 1272 courses over the past three academic years, Computer Sciences, with 1209 courses, and Media and Audio-visual Production, with 994 courses, followed by Tourism and Recreation, with 857 courses, Sports, with 665 courses, and Commerce, with 660 courses.

If the top 6 courses are equally distributed across the country, there are others with significant regional discrepancies. The Algarve region shows a higher disparity, investing more in Children and Young People's Support Services or Performing Arts, and less in areas such as Metallurgy and Metalworking. The Northern and Central regions, in turn, show more similarities in the incidence of vocational courses by Training and Education area.

Ten Construction Courses

If we group these data in broader areas of vocational training, we observe that in the Industry and Construction sector, for example , there are virtually no offers of Construction and Civil Engineering courses (only ten courses nationwide) or Industrial Materials' courses (e.g., wood, cork, paper, plastic).

In the Health and Community sectors, there are virtually no offers of Dental Sciences' courses. The Northern region counters this trend, but offers no courses in the Transportation Services sector, as is the case in the Algarve. Another course with a limited offer is the Diagnosis and Therapy course – with only 19 courses across the country.

Twelve Banking, Finance and Insurance courses

In the Services sector, there is a higher offer of Management and Administration, and Secretarial and Office Work across all regions, as opposed to a scarcer offer of Banking, Finance and Insurance courses, with only 12 courses across the country.

Training options in the Rural Community and Green Spaces sectors are mostly integrated into general Agricultural and Livestock Production courses. Algarve is the only region offering courses such as Floriculture and Gardening, and the Alentejo and Northern regions offer courses such as Forestry and Hunting.

Finally, there are also discrepancies in the distribution of creative and cultural courses, with a predominance of Marketing and Publicity, and Performing Arts' courses, and practically no Handicraft courses across the country.

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