Training and job rotation scheme launched

In February 1999, the Portuguese government launched a vocational training and job rotation scheme, aimed at promoting training among employees, increasing the employability of unemployed people and modernising companies. A recent report evaluates the experiences and outcomes of the organisations involved in this scheme, as well as those of the workers and the unemployed, temporary substitute workers.

Employment policy measure

The employment policy measure for job rotation and vocational training, Rotação Emprego-Formação, created through Decree Law No. 51/1999, aims to foster the continuing vocational training of workers, while not interfering with company productivity, and provide valuable work experience to young and long-term unemployed people. The latter group replaces the workers who are in training, by carrying out the same functions, while at the same time gaining occupational expertise that is potentially useful for their reintegration into the labour market. As a result, this measure provides specific training to unemployed people, while encouraging workers to improve their qualifications and skills by taking part in training courses during work hours.

Besides the companies, employees and substitute workers involved, public services also supports the government in successfully implementing this measure, in terms of information, publicity and administration (see also the EIRO article on the introduction of this measure, PT9904143N).

All those recruited to substitute the workers undergoing vocational training receive preparatory training prior to taking up their functions at the workplace. At the same time, the workers involved in vocational training return to the workplace with improved qualifications and skills. Although the substitute workers return to their initial situation, they will have gained valuable work experience, which improves their future employability in the labour market. In some cases, the companies recruit the substitute employees: more than 25% of the 218 substitute workers continued working in the same organisation.


Although primarily aimed at small and medium-sized Portuguese enterprises that lack vocational training initiatives as well as technological and organisational modernisation, it was mainly Private Institutions of Social Solidarity (Instituições Particulares de Solidariedade Social) that took advantage of this scheme. These institutions are non-profit organisations, based on private enterprises, which provide goods and services aimed at supporting initiatives such as:

  • the integration of children, young people and their families in the social network of the community;
  • the protection of the elderly;
  • education and training.

In fact, of the 41 approved proposals, only four related to companies; the remaining proposals related to non-profit organisations, mainly Private Institutions of Social Solidarity.

As outlined in the evaluation report, the scheme involved a total of 498 workers and 218 unemployed people. Looking at the gender distribution, a large majority of women benefited from this initiative: some 75% of the workers who took up vocational training, and over 90% of the unemployed people, were women.

The Private Institutions of Social Solidarity unanimously acknowledged the benefit of this measure, emphasising the positive effects for the three parties involved. For instance:

  • organisations were able to train their employees without encountering any huge problems regarding day-to-day activity;
  • employees had an opportunity to develop their professional competencies;
  • unemployed people acquired professional experience and, in several cases, were able to secure employment as a result of the initiative.

Workers evaluated their participation in the measure as follows:

  • the acquisition of new theoretical and practical knowledge resulted in an increase in their professional capacity and performance – this was seen as an important, positive effect;
  • the training only moderately impacted on increasing task autonomy, complexity in their job, occupational qualification, employment stability and career progression.

The unemployed substitute workers also assessed their experience positively, particularly with regard to:

  • acquisition of theoretical and practical knowledge, and professional experience;
  • getting a new job, remaining in the organisation and career progression, thus confirming the initial expectations of this measure;
  • being retained on the organisation’s waiting list for possible future recruitment, particularly in cases where the substitute workers demonstrated proficiency in performing assigned tasks.

According to the report, although this scheme did not achieve its quantitative objectives, it did accomplish important qualitative goals. All of the parties interviewed – the organisations, workers, substitute workers, social partners and occupational training centres – evaluated this measure positively, and it was agreed that it should be further developed. However, it was felt that the implementation process needed to be reviewed, looking particularly at additional investment in technical assistance to the organisations, by favouring changes in terms of technological modernisation.

Jorge Cabrita, CESIS


IESE (Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Económicos), Rotação Emprego-Formação: A experiência Portuguesa de Jobrotation [Job Rotation-Training: The Portuguese experience of job rotation], Direcção Geral do Emprego e das Relações de Trabalho, Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity (Ministério do Trabalho e da Solidariedade Social, MTSS), 2005.

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