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EACEA National Policies Platform


4. Social Inclusion

4.3 Strategy for the social inclusion of young people

Last update: 12 January 2021
On this page
  1. Existence of a National Strategy on social inclusion
  2. Scope and contents
  3. Responsible authority
  4. Revisions/ Updates

Existence of a National Strategy on social inclusion

In Portugal, the national strategy for the social inclusion of young people is framed in the incentives programme called Portugal 2020, within the scope of the Europe 2020 strategy. Based on five European Structural and Investment Funds (FEEI), Portugal 2020 defines the main development policies to be promoted in Portugal between 2014 and 2020, which are implemented through 16 operational programmes.

Social inclusion and employment is one of the thematic fields resulting in the definition of an Operational Programme for Social Inclusion and Employment (PO ISE), including two strategic objectives:

  • OT9 – to strengthen the integration of people at risk of poverty and to combat social exclusion;
  • OT8 – to stimulate the creation and sustainability of employment.

In the National Reforms Plan, the Portuguese Government defined structural reforms in line with the strategic objectives of Portugal 2020, such as strengthening cohesion and social equality.

In the context of thematic objective 8 (OT8), the Priority Axis 2 – Youth Employment Initiative aims to increase the skills and labour market integration of young people not in education, employment or training – young people in a NEET situation.

In the context of thematic objective 9 (OT9), the Priority Axis 3 – To Strengthen the Integration of People at Risk of Poverty and to Combat Social Exclusion ​ aims to promote an active social inclusion in potentially vulnerable groups. One of its specific goals is to contribute to the reinforcement of social cohesion, particularly through the social inclusion of children and young people from vulnerable socio-economic contexts.

The Major Options Plan (GOP) document for 2017 foresees the development of a National Strategy to Combat the Poverty of Children and Young People in the biennium of 2017/2018 (see 3.11 – Reforms).

Portugal has more intervention plans and strategies for vulnerable populations, but those are directed to the general population, regardless of their age. The majority of them include, however, measures intended for young people, which are presented in 4.4 – Inclusive Programmes for Young People; 4.5 – Initiatives Promoting Social Inclusion and Raising Awareness and 4.6 – Access to Quality Services.

  • National Roma Communities Integration Strategy (ENICC);
  • National Strategy for Equality and Non-Discrimination (National Action Plan for Equality between Women and Men; National Action Plan for the Prevention and Combating of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence; National Action Plan to Combat Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Sexual Characteristics).

Finally, in the fields of education and citizenship, the Portuguese Government has developed a Strategy on Citizenship Education, assisted by a working group constituted for this purpose, that will be implemented in schools, in order to include in all curriculums and levels of education a series of skills and knowledge concerning citizenship issues. The implementation started in the school year of 2017/2018.


Scope and contents

In the thematic objective framework To stimulate the creation and sustainability of employment (OT8), in Priority Axis 2 – Youth Employment Initiative, the priority is the sustainable occupational integration of young people into the labour market – in particular those not working, studying, or training, young people at risk of social exclusion and youth from marginalized communities – through the implementation of the measures set out in the National Plan for the Implementation of a Youth Guarantee (PNI-GJ). The recent coronavirus pandemic has emphasised the difficult start in the labour market of young people and Portugal is aligned with the EU recovery plan for young people – A Bridge to Jobs: Reinforcing the Youth Guarantee.

Target group: young inactive and unemployed people, aged between 15 and 29, who are not working, studying, or training (NEET). 

The specific goals are:

To increase the qualification and sustainable integration of young people not working, studying, or training into the labour market, particularly through the development of skills for the job market.

The measures to implement fall into the following typologies:

  • Training;
  • Education;
  • Traineeships;
  • Employment.

In the framework of thematic objective 9 and Priority Axis 3 – Promoting Social Inclusion and Fighting Poverty and Discrimination, the priority is active inclusion, in order to promote equal opportunities and an active participation, and to improve employability.

One of its specific objectives is to strengthen social cohesion, increasing the number of people and vulnerable territories covered by the programme. For that effect, the development of local approaches in strict articulation with the local entities is intended, in order to promote social development.

Target group: population residing in vulnerable territories, among them immigrants and their descendants, and Roma communities.

One of the typologies included in the measures to be implemented in the specific objective 2 is the “Choices Programme” (Programa Escolhas).

The “Choices Programme” (Programa Escolhas) is a national scope government programme, which was implemented in 2001 and is now on its 6th Generation (2016-2018).

Its mission is to promote the social inclusion of children and young people from vulnerable socio-economic contexts, aiming for equal opportunities and the strengthening of social cohesion.

Its implementation is based on local action, through the funding of projects based on entities and institutions that act on the territory.

Target groups: children and young people aged between 6 and 30, from vulnerable socio-economic contexts, especially descendants of immigrants, Roma communities and Portuguese emigrants, which are in one or more of the following situations:


  • School absenteeism;
  • School failure;
  • Early school dropout;
  • NEET;
  • Unemployment;
  • Deviant behaviours;
  • Subject to educational tutoring measures;
  • Subject to promotion and protection measures;
  • Emigrants in vulnerable situations (6th generation).


As a matter of priority, the following entities can apply: municipalities and/or parish councils; commissions for the protection of children and young people; Regional Directorates of the Portuguese Institute of Sports and Youth; associations of immigrants and/or emigrants or representatives of Roma communities; youth associations; schools and school groups; security forces and services; private social solidarity institutions; and private companies, in the context of the organisations' social responsibility, provided that the partnership does not result in any profits or gains for the applicant companies.



Responsible authority

National Plan for the Implementation of a Youth Guarantee (PNI-GJ)

The measures implemented under the National Plan for the Implementation of a Youth Guarantee (PNI-GJ) are promoted by a number of entities according to their typology, integrated in the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Solidarity; the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Economy; and the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. (see chapter 3 – Employment and Entrepreneurship; sub-chapter 3.6 – Integration of Young People in the Labour Market).


“Choices Programme” (Programa Escolhas)

The “Choices Programme” is promoted by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and is integrated in the High Commission for Migration (ACM, I.P.).

The following entities are included in the different partners/beneficiaries of the programme:

  • Institute of Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP, I.P.);
  • Immigrant associations;
  • Groups of schools;
  • Private institutions of social solidarity.



National Plan for the Implementation of a Youth Guarantee (PNI-GJ) 

In 2012, in order to respond to the worsening situation of youth unemployment in Portugal, the Government established the Strategic Plan of Incentives Promoting Youth Employability and Support to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises – Impulso Jovem.

In 2013 this programme adopted the designation Strategic Plan of Incentives Promoting Youth Employability – Impulso Jovem. With the worsening of youth unemployment and its structural constraints, changes were introduced. 

The changes introduced aimed to adjust the available support instruments, as well as to introduce greater rationality and simplification in the implementation of those instruments. Measures to improve the dissemination of the Strategic Plan among young people and entities were also introduced.

This programme lasted until November 2013, including 90 thousand young people in the programme’s four axes: internships and employment, supports for recruitment, professional training and entrepreneurship. 

In December 2013, this programme became part of the National Plan for the Implementation of a Youth Guarantee (PNI-GJ).

The recent coronavirus pandemic has emphasised the difficult start in the labour market of young people and Portugal is aligned with the EU recovery plan for young people – A Bridge to Jobs: Reinforcing the Youth Guarantee.

Choices Programme (Programa Escolhas)

The first edition of the “Choices Programme” (Programa Escolhas) took place between 2001 and 2003, being a programme for crime prevention and for the insertion of young people from the more problematic suburbs of Lisbon, Oporto and Setúbal. Overall, 50 projects were implemented, benefiting 6712 youngsters.

The second generation took place between 2004 and 2006, when the programme redirected its action to the promotion of social inclusion. There was a modification of the programme’s implementation model, from a centred plan of action to one based on local projects, founded on institutions with the responsibility of conceiving, implementing and assessing projects (schools, training centres, associations, IPSS, etc.).

During this generation, 87 projects were approved encompassing 43,200 beneficiaries in 54 municipalities throughout the country.

In the third generation, held between 2007 and 2009, the territorial scope of the “Choices Programme” (Programa Escolhas) was expanded to 71 municipalities, having benefited 81,685 children and young people aged between 6 and 24.

Between 2010 and 2012, the fourth generation was held, following the success of the programme's implementation, and the Government expanded the overall funding and the number of projects supported. Until then, the programme was structured in four measures: school inclusion and non-formal education; vocational training and employability; civic and community participation and digital inclusion. In the 4th edition, a 5th measure was added to promote youth entrepreneurship and improve youth competencies/skills.

The fifth generation took place between 2013 and 2015. Protocols with consortia have been concluded in 110 local projects. Additionally, on an experimental basis, 31 projects in the field of employment and entrepreneurship were also financed.