Vocational education was an engine for the development of our Portuguese educational system, providing a set of training courses that have to be diversified but adjusted to the different profiles of our young people ”, underlined Tiago Brandão Rodrigues during a ceremony to deliver the prizes of the“ Prémio ”competition Human Capital ”, integrated in the annual event of the Operational Human Capital Program (POCH)“ Qualify to Grow ”.

The minister recalled the importance of professional courses being designed to “fit the needs of the labor market, to promote the inclusion and educational success of all” and argued that professional offers must be aligned and adequate to the dynamics of the labor market but also the importance of guaranteeing the quality of the courses. “We will continue and insist on the constant assessment of a quality assurance system for our professional courses, based on European standards”, promised Tiago Brandão Rodrigues.

The mission of POCH is to promote the improvement of the population's qualification through projects financed by the European Social Fund. Throughout the current community framework, the POCH covered 800 thousand young people and adults who represent about 19 percent of the population between 15 and 64 years old who live in the regions eligible for the program, recalled Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, considering that "the number is very impressive".

The Government's goal is to get 50 percent of students to finish secondary education through dual certification modalities. "Today there are 45 percent of students who finish secondary education through double certification," said the minister, noting that between 2017 and 2020 there was an increase of 17 percent of students attending vocational education courses. "These education policies demand an answer that must be absolutely adequate so that we do not leave anyone behind," said the minister, adding that adults and the elderly cannot be forgotten.

Today, the contest “Prémio Capital Humano” awarded two young people, Ruben Dhanaraju and Patrícia Oliveira, who chose to finish high school through professional courses. Ruben Dhanaraju is currently taking a college degree in Computer Science at the University of Porto and Patrícia Oliveira has a master's degree in Computer Engineering. The other winners revealed other offers available to those who stopped studying ahead of time. Cármen Calhau and Mónica completed their training through Adult Education and Training (EFA) courses.

Cármen Calhau returned to the school banks through an Adult Education and Training (EFA) course, just as Mónica managed to finish secondary school and apply for higher education. After graduating in Multimedia Design, Mónica is already attending a master's degree in the same area. Today, aged 49, Edite Godinho recalled the day when, already working, she decided to go back to school. Defending the need to value the professional, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues underlined that this teaching path “can never be like, for a long time it was understood, a deposit of precocious failures nor a secondary road that goes diagonally towards the highway where everyone ended up for looking. We have to look at all roads in the same way ”.

The president of POCH, Joaquim Bernardo, pointed out the importance of these courses for the reduction of the rate of early dropout and for the completion of secondary education. Cristina Jacinto, also from POCH, added the population increase between 30 and 34 years old who reach higher education: "In 2014 there was 31.3 percent and today we are already at 43 percent”, she said.