In the Skills Index 2020 Report, Portugal recorded a positive evolution in the overall balance. It registered a score of 45/100 in 2016-2018 period and 53/100 in 2018-2020, an increase of two positions in the ranking of analysed countries (occupying the 23rd position), even considering the recent integration of three new countries with scores, in absolute terms, higher than the score of Portugal. Although, some of the Index indicators continue to reveal fragilities and need the introduction of improvements.
In the ‘Skills Development’ Pillar the positive evolution registered remains small (42/100 in 2018-2020 and 41/100 in 2016-2018), which means that the effort made is not yet enough.
In the Subpilar ‘Basic education’, the low performance recorded in the ‘student/teacher ratio in pre-school education’ (33/100) is underlined, which is dependent on legislative determinations. The result obtained in the indicator ‘upper-secondary (and above)’ of the population aged 15-64 (1/100) does not reflect the exponential growth of qualifications registered in the last two decades in Portugal (+30% according to Eurostat), especially in younger generations. The reform of the education and training system in 2007, revised in 2017, contributed significantly to this increase with the active participation of social partners and companies. Alongside, the results of PISA, reflected in the indicator ‘reading, maths and science’ (67/100), placed Portugal above the European average.
In the Subpilar ‘Training and other education’, there is a residual variation in the indicators ‘Recent training’ (32/100) and ‘VET students’ (47/100), with emphasis to the measures to increase compulsory education. In addition, there has been a decrease in the birth rate in recent decades.
It is also important to note the good score in the indicator of the ‘high-level computer skills’ (69/100), to which the INCoDe.2030 Programme and the Digital Portugal Agenda contributed with a strong investment in digital literacy.
The ‘Skill Activation’ Pillar shows a clearly positive evolution (56/100 in 2016-2018 and 72/100 in 2018-2020).
In the sub-pillar ‘Transition to work’ (71/100), there is a decreasing marked tendency in the ’Early leaving from training’ indicator (74/100), which contributes the government action measures, such as the Inclusive Education Legal Regime, the attendance of school up to 18 years old and the increase of compulsory education to 12 years, among others.
In the ‘Recent graduated in employment’ indicator (64/100), there is a significant growth (17 p.p.), highlighting the impact of active employment measures, namely the Professional Traineeships measure and the supports for hiring.
In the Subpilar ‘Labour market participation’, the age group 20-24 (49/100) deserves special attention to the need for measures to facilitate integration into the labour market. On the other hand, the 25-54 age group has a very high score (98/100) and is higher than the European average, with a high female participation rate, with emphasis on the impact of measures to support hiring and promote equality of gender in the labour market (to reduce professional/sectoral segregation or under-representation of sex and wage disparities).
The ‘Skills Matching’ Pillar deserves some attention (40/100 in 2016-2018 and evolved to 49/100 in 2018-2020).
The Sub-pillar ‘Skills utilisation’ has a high score (68/100), highlighting the indicator ‘Long-term unemployment’ (77/100) between the active population and the ‘Underemployed part-timers’ (62/100). Although the unemployment rate has been decreasing, the needs for requalification and retraining of the active population are evident, particularly in some emerging or transforming activity sectors, as well as the improvement of skills and qualifications, namely through the recognition of prior learning. It is important to reinforce the impact of active employment measures, namely supports for hiring.
The Sub-pillar ‘Skills mismatch’ obtained a low score (37/100), highlighting the indicators’ ´’Overqualification rate (tertiary education) ‘(62/100), the ‘Low-waged workers (ISCED 5-8)’ (94/100) and ‘Qualifications mismatch’ (6/100). Investment at this level has not yet produced the desired results, and it is necessary to adjust the supply and demand for skills, reducing the gap and disparities between wage levels, skills and the needs of the labour market.