The high school completion rate in Portugal is the same among regular and vocational students, an exception in the international context, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development released on Tuesday.
Typically, according to the 2020 edition of the OECD report ‘Education at a Glance’, students in vocational secondary education are less likely to complete their education compared to regular programmes, but Portugal is an exception. In Portugal, the rate of completion of secondary education within the time foreseen is 57% among both regular students and those who choose a vocational route.
In Portugal, young people who choose vocational education represent, on average, 40% of secondary students. While this remains below the OECD average of 42%, the report highlights its investment in this area, especially in access to the labour market and higher education, citing it as one of the countries that have created direct pathways from vocational education to higher levels to support students seeking to transition to higher education and improve their career prospects.
In Portugal, this direct access covers all students in vocational education, whereas across the OECD on average it is only available to 70% of students.
Such students find it easier to find jobs, compared to young people who have completed compulsory schooling in regular education, the report notes.
On employment rates, OECD data shows that on average last year 88% of young adults aged 25-34 with vocational secondary education or post-secondary non-tertiary level qualifications were working, compared to 83% among young people with 12th grade regular education, with the rates is even higher compared to young people in the same age group with degrees.
In Portugal, the employment rate was 86% among Portuguese aged between 25 and 34 and higher education.
On higher education, despite registering higher growth than the OECD average, Portugal continues to lag behind in terms of the number of graduates. As for the mobility of international students, Portugal is ahead, with 4% of its students studying abroad, against an OECD average of 2%; meanwhile the proportion of foreign students in the country doubled in four years, to 8% in 2018.
In general, among OECD countries, the preferred destinations of students are countries where English is the main language, with Australia, Canada, the UK and the US receiving more than 40% of students in international mobility programs. For Portuguese students, the UK is the most popular destination.