We seek to improve the quality of education and training in Portugal, improve students' attainment while in school, and reduce the shortage of technical experts in our industries.
The Ser Pro project aims to bring working life and education together, by offering educational pathways that are more aligned with the short-term goals of many students and that enable them to gain the qualifications they need to transition into the world of work with higher chances of securing a job.
The Teresa and Alexandre Soares dos Santos – Iniciativa Educação hopes that this programme can be replicated, so that more young people have access to an Education that benefits their future and the future of the entire country.
By making education compulsory up until the age of 18, new opportunities have been created for many young people, who, previously, would not have been able to continue their studies. It is extremely important that all young people have equal opportunities to further their education, live a fulfilling life and feel fully integrated in society.
This new framework, however, has also created new hiring challenges for companies. On the one hand, society has become increasingly demanding and companies no longer wish to hire low-performance workers; on the other hand, many students that remain in school up to the age of 18 no longer accept an education that does not provide professional training and is out of touch with the world of work.
The problem concerning the transition from universal (compulsory) education into further education or into the labour market is being addressed by all European countries, especially by those where vocational training is less developed and education is compulsory up to the age of 18. In Portugal, compulsory education was extended to the age of 18 in 2012, a few years after vocational training had become widespread in almost every school. However, the challenge of aligning vocational training with real work opportunities in each region still remains to be overcome, as well as a harmonisation and alignment between the expectations and necessities of both schools and companies.
The aim of the Ser Pro project is to contribute to the development of professional training, by bringing schools and companies closer so that the latter can aid the former in creating suitable courses and therefore increase the range of paths available in upper secondary education.
Since there is not a (widespread) tradition of regular interaction between schools, companies and other partners in Portugal, this programme was also designed to help increase interest in building a better future for young people among several types of organisations.
- SCHOOLS have understandable difficulties in identifying the most relevant areas and in finding educators that have sufficient experience and expertise in the working practices employed within businesses.
- COMPANIES are aware of their recruitment challenges, but do not know where to find the right intermediaries within the educational system.
- MUNICIPALITIES are aware of their regional needs and shortages, but find it difficult to intervene in order to create more qualified jobs and to support the development of local companies, due to the lack of the efficient instruments they would need to do so. They feel partly responsible for school failure and dropout rates, as well as for the resulting social problems; they are willing to intervene at an early stage, but lack the means to do so without going against the strategies employed by local schools and companies.
Our intention is to join forces in order to develop Vocational Courses that will not only help combat numbers of school dropouts and the shortage of technical experts in industries, but also build a better future for young people and allow them to contribute to the development of their region.
Young people often feel that school is misaligned with their personal lives and goals. This reality makes integrating into school life more difficult, and frequently leads to failure at school, or to students dropping out of school without any qualifications. This then leads to a greater risk of future social problems.
The Ser Pro project is designed to help young people who wish to gain access to the world of work, but still maintain the possibility of pursuing their studies.
The Ser Pro project seeks to support the creation of structured, robust partnerships between schools, municipalities and companies. The goal is to provide a wider curriculum for upper secondary vocational education, which will comprise a stronger presence of companies in schools, on-the-job training opportunities and the additional collaboration of Polytechnic Institutes.
In order to be able to provide Portuguese level 4 certifications (secondary school leavers’ certificates), Schools must, as far as is permissible, create a curricular structure and adjust their syllabus to the educational offers, in close collaboration with local companies. Furthermore, they should provide additional support for students who wish to continue on to higher education. Companies must have some level of involvement in designing the curriculum, advising schools on the necessary technical training, creating opportunities for the students to come into closer contact with the technical specificities of each course and provide them with on-the-job learning experiences. The municipalities shall provide institutional support to help ensure the stability of the relationships between schools and companies, as well as identify the areas of higher relevance and companies that are best suited to these partnerships.
The Ser Pro project sees itself as a facilitator in so far as it encourages partners to join forces in order to analyse regional needs in terms of vocational training and contribute to provide solutions; promotes contact with municipalities and polytechnic institutes for the purposes of providing logistical and technical support in order to ensure the quality of the training provided; and helps to design and implement syllabi that meet the existing needs, technical resources and legal provisions.
After this intervention, we will provide support in order to ensure that the programme if successfully implemented and that its results are assessed as required.
Our final goal is that, once this initial stage has been completed, the courses gain a life of their own and start developing naturally, in direct collaboration with a variety of partners.