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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.5 Traineeships and apprenticeships

Last update: 28 November 2023
On this page
  1. Official guidelines on traineeships and apprenticeships
  2. Promoting traineeships and apprenticeships
  3. Recognition of learning outcomes
  4. Funding
  5. Quality assurance

Official guidelines on traineeships and apprenticeships

In the context of active employment policies, trainee programmes have been promoted for graduates and for young people holding vocational and technological courses, and other qualifying courses, at the secondary and post-secondary (non-superior) level.

There are several internship / traineeship programmes, with different purposes:

  • Curricular internships, for learning in work context, included in a degree study plan (1st, 2nd or 3rd cycle of higher education), or in training;
  • Extracurricular and professional traineeships, as a first work experience, to facilitate the access to the labour market;
  • Traineeships to access professional orders and to obtain professional certificates.

These internships / traineeships can be performed exclusively in the national territory, include a period of stay abroad or, in the context of international mobility programmes, be fully performed abroad. The internship / traineeship location depends on the type and framework of the measure/programme in which it is integrated.

The legislative framework and respective regulations also differs according to the type and purpose of each internship / traineeship.


Curricular internships

The curricular internships are integrated in the study programme of a given education cycle and are part of the students' evaluation. These internships are regulated and authorized by educational and training institutions. They are not usually remunerated.

In degrees such as Medicine, Nursing or Teaching (1st, 2nd or 3rd cycle), these internships are mandatory.

Curricular Internships Programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (PECMNE)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Diplomatic Institute, coordinates the PECMNE-Curricular Internships Programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (PECMNE  see section 3.7 Programmes and schemes for cross-border mobility) that enables internships in Portuguese diplomatic missions.


Educational and Training/Vocational Courses

Vocational education and training courses are intended to promote the access of young people to the labour market, allowing, in some cases, to proceed to tertiary education. Young people can be supported, by receiving a scholarship, a meal or a food allowance, a transport allowance and an accommodation allowance. Most of these courses include training in a real working environment that provides a first contact with the professional world.

Learning courses include:

  • Technological Specialization Courses (CET), delivered by IEFP, IP, by hotel and tourism schools (Tourism of Portugal, IP) and by technological schools supervised by the Ministry of Economy, level 5 of European Qualification Framework (EQF);

  • Active Life Programme and EFA courses (covering a portion of youth in a NEET situation, from the age of 18 to 29), level 2, 3 and 4 EQF;

  • Professional courses, under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, level 4 of EQF;

  • Apprenticeship courses, delivered by IEFP, IP. Level 4 of EQF;

  • Other programmes at the lower- and upper-secondary level include specialised art programmes and education and training programmes for young people


Extracurricular internships

Extracurricular internships are not mandatory in a course curriculum. They can be done during or at the end of a course/training. They are organised by the companies’ or institutions’ own initiative, and they may or may not be remunerated. They are regulated by the Decree-Law no. 66/2011 of 1st June 2011.


The Programme of Internships in Companies for Young Students in Higher Education (PEJENE) is an internship programme promoted by the Foundation of Youth, having as co-promoters the Institute for Employment and Vocational Training, PI (IEFP, I.P.), the Portuguese Institute of Sports and Youth (IPDJ, I.P.) and the Tranquilidade Insurance Company.

Internships last from two to three months, take place during summer holidays (between July and September), and are not paid.

Trainees receive, at the very least, the food allowance and the transport allowance, which are paid monthly by the host company/entity.

Trainees also benefit from Personal Accident Insurance.


Remunerated internships

The remunerated internships are internships financed by community funds and managed by public institutions, each one of them with specific regulations. The main programmes are part of the Youth Guarantee programme within the scope of the National Plan for the Implementation of a Youth Guarantee (PNI-GJ), aimed at young people in a NEET situation with an age up to and including 29. There are several internship programmes offered by the Youth Guarantee:


Erasmus+ Programme

The programme promotes mobility for higher education students, allowing them, regardless of their academic degree, to attend a curricular or extracurricular internship in a foreign company or university.


Unfunded internships

Employers may organise and promote professional internships without public funding.

Decree-Law no. 66/2011 of 1st June regulates the professional internships not included in a specific regulatory programme, defining their framework, as well as the terms and conditions for the execution of the internships. This regime excludes curricular internships or internships with public funding.

The present Decree-Law was the subject of public appreciation and all social partners in the Standing Committee for Social Dialogue were heard.


Complementary funding programmes

Incentive to Associative Development (IDA)

It is a programme that complements the support to IEFP's professional internships, in particular the Internships and Employment measure, which helps the integration of young people in youth associations. It is under the responsibility of the IPDJ, I.P., in coordination with the IEFP, I.P. – Institute for Employment and Vocational Training.


Professional orders' internships

In Portugal, there are professional orders that regulate access to the exercise of the professions that they supervise, through the completion of an admission examination and a professional internship, so that the candidate may become an effective member and, consequently, obtain the professional certificate for the exercise of the profession.


List of rights and duties

In case of remunerated internships, a training/internship contract is signed between the promoter and the trainee. The duration of the internship varies according to the regulations of each internship programme.

They are subject to the rules applicable to the respective services and organisations, particularly the rules concerning the work duration and the working hours, the daily and weekly breaks and the absences regime.

Taxes and social security

Internships are subject to taxation and social security contributions, under the system in place for dependent workers (employees).


Promoting traineeships and apprenticeships

The participation of young people in internships and apprenticeships programmes is promoted through the several management and promoting entities and their various channels of communication: online portal, social networks, brochures and other informative documentation, according to the strategies of dissemination of each programme.

Other initiatives

  • Public sector employment exchange – information base that aggregates the dissemination of all recruitment and mobility processes of the public administration's human resources. The internship programmes in public administration (PEPAC; PEPAL and PEPAC-MNE) are published in this portal;
  • Iefpoline - portal of the Employment Public Service – IEFP, I.P., where all Internships-Employment and Active Youth Employment measures are published;
  • Service network of the IPDJ, I.P., in a multichannel logic that includes the Youth Portal; the Youth Line (707 20 30 30) and the Ponto JA Stores, which provide information about the different measures and programmes;
  • Futurália – National Education, Training and Educational Guidance Fair that takes place annually for three days. In the same area, young people can find information on different offers of education, training and employment, in all areas of expertise and levels of qualification.


Recognition of learning outcomes

In the different Portuguese internship programmes and measures, the model of recognition and validation of acquired knowledge varies according to the typology and nature of the programme/measure.

Curricular internships

A person responsible for the internship is appointed, who, in turn, guides and follows the work of the trainee, according to the institutional framework of each internship.

Trainees are evaluated according to the internships plan. If the internship takes place within a curricular unit, the obtainment of credits (ECTS) is validated. A certificate proving the completion of the internship is also issued.

In the case of curricular internships in the 2nd cycle of higher education (master’s degree), the internship report may replace the master's dissertation, according to specific regulations of the academic institution that assigns the degree and the studies plan of the respective course.

Remunerated internships

The assessment, supervision and follow-up of internships is defined according to the regulations of each internship programme.

In case of internships promoted by the public employment system – IEFP, I.P., trainees are evaluated by the internship's counsellor and receive a certification issued by the promoter.

In the public administration’s internships (PEPAC; PEPAL and PEPAC-MNE), trainees are evaluated according to the rules, components and assessment criteria approved and defined in the respective regulations, and they receive a certificate of attendance and final approval in the internship.

The internship’s completion does not imply the establishment of a legal work relationship with the entity that promoted the internship; but, in the case of PEPAC, trainees with a final classification of at least 14 have some benefits.

In the Erasmus+ programme internships, the attendance and completion of the internship allow for the possibility of credit equivalences, thus allowing the student’s progression in the university course.

Professional orders' internships

The recognition, assessment and certification of the internships developed as requirement of admission to be an effective member of a professional order are defined according to the regulations of the respective professional orders.



The Operational Programme for Social Inclusion and Employment (PO ISE) frames the Priority Axis 2 – Youth Employment Initiative, which integrates the majority of programmes and measures concerning the internships developed in Portugal.

The funding foreseen by this priority axis is about €350 million, of which €321,544,338 are financed by European funds (European Social Fund) and €28,371,559 are a national public counterpart.

With respect to the funding relationships between promoters/beneficiaries and managing entities, each measure/programme has specificities and rules for the allocation of funds to the promoting entity.

In internship programmes for public administration, the underlying expenditure to the implementation of internships is supported by the budget of services/entities submitting their application to the programme, without prejudice to the possibility of obtaining co-funding from structural and investment European funds.


Quality assurance

The implementation of internship and apprenticeship programmes by the several managing and promoting entities is monitored by a series of mechanisms and assessing instruments.

In their regulation, programmes foresee the assessment performed by the target young group and promoters, as well as some external audits/assessments.

The implementation quality of the measures/programmes is also monitored and assured by the establishing of rules applicable in case of discontinuance or total or partial breach of the requirements foreseen in the cooperation protocols.

The measures managed by the IEFP, I.P., in particular the Active Youth Employment measure and the Internships and Employment measure (which is currently under revision) define, in their regulations, the assessment of internships by their beneficiaries and promoters. The IEFP, I.P., publishes online, in its portal, statistical data on the employability of beneficiaries of the main employment and training measures.

Regarding the discontinuance/breach of obligations – by the promoters – concerning the allocation of financial support, IEFP, I.P.,, is responsible for judging and deciding if the funds attributed should continue or if they should be refunded.

In all internship programmes for public administration, a final report is prepared concerning the implementation of each edition.

In the Inov Contact programme, the trainee is expected to provide information on the internship and on his professional development, as well as relevant economic information to the knowledge network, during a period of five years after the date of its completion.

In the IDA programme, the IPDJ, I.P., can monitor how these funds are applied, by conducting inspections and surveys at any stage of the internship, or determine the undertaking of an audit by an external entity.