Chapter 5. PRONATEC: Training provision and alignment with labour market needs

This chapter proceeds with the description of the PRONATEC adult training programme, getting into further details regarding the selection of training providers and how public funds are transferred to training institutions and individuals. The chapter proceeds with the analysis of training outcomes across different types of training institutions. Particular emphasis is placed on the alignment of the training offer with labour market needs. When challenges are identified, alternative solutions are suggested, based on practices from other countries.


For adult education and training to be useful for individuals, firms and societies, it is imperative that the provided training is of high quality, as well as aligned with the skill needs in the labour market. This chapter reviews how the adult training programme PRONATEC selected and funded training providers. Using micro data from the SISTEC portal, several aspects of training provision are analysed across different types of institutions. This analysis suggests that there is still a significant amount of heterogeneity in the delivery of PRONATEC training courses. Finally, the offer of PRONATEC courses is compared with skill shortages in Brazil, as identified by the OECD Skills for Jobs database. This comparison reveals that PRONATEC training courses do not always respond to the most prominent skills needs in Brazil. Several recommendations are drawn, based on examples of best practices from other countries whenever possible.

5.1. Selecting and financing training providers

5.1.1. Selection of training providers

PRONATEC partners can request a particular training provider for their course demand, if duly justified. Otherwise, and in the majority of cases, training providers need to apply and obtain the approval of MEC to offer PRONATEC training courses. Different factors may be taken into account, such as the provider’s infra-structure and the availability of instructors. For the infra-structure, particular attention is paid to classroom illumination and ventilation, as well as building accessibility. Regarding the instructors of PRONATEC courses, three criteria need to be met:

  1. 1. The coordinator of PRONATEC courses needs to hold a tertiary education degree.

  2. 2. Instructors need to hold at least a secondary-level vocational or general education degree.

  3. 3. At least 80% of the professionals involved with the pedagogical and administrative management of PRONATEC courses need to have a formal institutional link with the training provider.

Four types of institutions can be designated or apply to become PRONATEC training providers: public institutions from the Federal network of professional, scientific and technological education (“Rede Federal de Educação Profissional, Científica e Tecnológica”); state and municipal technical schools; technical schools from “Sistema S”; and finally, private institutions. This is a major difference compared with the previous programmes – PLANFOR and PNQ - where Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), civic associations, workers’ unions, cooperatives and other institutions could also become training providers. The existence of a list of specific requirements for these types of institutions, in order to become a PRONATEC training provider, is also a novelty relative to previous programmes. By restricting the type of institutions that could offer PRONATEC training courses and setting some objective criteria, the new approach limits the heterogeneity in the quality of FIC courses subsidised by the Federal government. It is also easier for MEC to control and supervise training providers across the country. However, as will be discussed in the following sub-sections, there is still some heterogeneity in quality across PRONATEC training providers.

After aggregating the demand for FIC courses from all PRONATEC requesting partners (“mapas da demanda”), MEC publishes, through the SISTEC portal, a consolidated map of training demand with details about the types of courses and the locations requested (called “Mapa das Demandas Identificadas”). In a first stage, training providers submit offer proposals to meet such demand. MEC then has the responsibility of approving such proposals, within the limits of number of places requested for each training course in each location. In a second stage, training providers can submit proposals not necessarily contemplated in the consolidated map of training demand. MEC then coordinates with requesting partners to evaluate such proposals. This second phase constitutes an opportunity for training providers to apply for PRONATEC funds for courses that they have already set up and are ready to deliver without additional investment on infra-structures or hiring of new faculty.

After obtaining the approval from MEC to their proposals, training institutions can publish their class openings in the SISTEC portal, informing the portal’s users about the location of the training, the number of places available, the minimum entry requirements, the predicted start and end date of the FIC training course, the schedule, the number of hours of training scheduled per day, among other things.

One potential limitation of this system, is that training providers can exploit this process of consultations, negotiation and conciliation, to maximise the amount of public funds they receive, but without necessarily offering training courses that meet employers’ skill needs. The process of “pactuação” is meant at identifying what courses can be quickly offered and these may not always correspond to courses that will equip students with the skills and knowledge most needed in the labour market or likely to become needed in the future. Further discussion about the alignment of training provision with labour market needs will follow in the next sub-sections.

5.1.2. Monitoring student enrolment and financing training provision

After the publication of class openings, as discussed previously, PRONATEC requesting partners select and pre-enrol candidates for FIC training courses through the SISTEC portal. For shared modalities, i.e. modalities that do not require exclusive classes or their public to be prioritised (marked with “S” in Table 3.1), requesting partners can pre-enrol their selected candidates to any class opening. For PRONATEC modalities considered priority (marked with “P” in Table 3.1), MEC selects specific class openings. The requesting partner for that modality is then the only partner able to pre-enrol its selected candidates for such courses, at least, in an initial stage. Only later, and if places remain available, all the other partners are also able to pre-enrol their selected candidates. For modalities considered exclusive (marked with “E” in Table 3.1), MEC also selects specific class openings. Requesting partners for such modalities are then able to exclusively pre-enrol their selected candidates to these openings. Requesting partners can pre-enrol candidates up to twice the total number of places approved for each FIC training course. Once this limit is reached, no more pre-enrolments are possible in the SISTEC portal. Finally, individuals can pre-enrol on-line (via the PRONATEC website: for FIC training courses that have not yet reached their limit of pre-enrolments, even without having been selected by a PRONATEC demanding partner.

If a training course does not receive at least 50% of its approved number of places in pre-enrolments, it can be cancelled. Otherwise, pre-enrolled candidates via PRONATEC partners receive a formal letter inviting them to confirm their enrolment at the training institution in person. There is only a limited period of time during which the enrolment can be confirmed. If an opening has received more pre-enrolments than approved number of places by MEC, pre-enrolments are confirmed on a first-come first-served basis.

Training institutions can refuse to confirm a student’s enrolment in any of the following cases:

  • If the student’s documentation is insufficient or missing;

  • If the student does not meet some minimum entry requirement (based on age or educational attainment);

  • If the class has been cancelled in the meantime;

  • If the number of places has already been filled;

  • If the student wants to attend the FIC training course as part of a more complete training programme, but the FIC course content does not match the requirements of that programme.

In all the above cases, the training provider has to declare the reason why the enrolment was not confirmed in the SISTEC portal. Students who never showed up to confirm their pre-enrolment are also signalled as such in SISTEC. In principle, individuals enrolled for FIC courses cannot request to be transferred to other FIC courses once their enrolment has been confirmed by the training provider, unless the FIC courses for which they were originally registered is cancelled.

On the positive side, the overall procedure is well organised and everything adequately recorded on the SISTEC portal, generating a lot of information that could be used for the programme assessment and the evaluation of training providers. On the other hand, the procedure can be quite lengthy and complicated. Pre-enrolments and enrolments represent two layers of administrative procedures at different locations and with different staff. At each stage, documentation has to be presented, forms filled, among other things. This bureaucracy constitutes a potential barrier to access adult training for individuals who lack time or financial resources - in which case the time spent on these procedures can have a high opportunity cost. Simplifying the enrolment procedure is strongly advised to make sure that access to PRONATEC training courses is not barred for individuals who lack time for work or family reasons.

Federal funds allocated to the PRONATEC programme are transferred to training providers as a function of the number of students registered in each institution and the total number of hours of training provided to each student. The exact amount to be transferred to each training institution is calculated as the product of the total number of students registered, the total number of hours of training provided, and the fixed value per student/hour set by MEC, added over all the training courses offered by the institution.1

MEC sets the value per student/hour to BRL 10, regardless of the training course, the location of the school and the type of training provider. In actual fact, the cost of training provision varies widely across courses, across providers and across regions: some training courses are more costly than others to provide (for e.g. a course to become assistant in the maintenance of aircrafts will most likely require more equipment than a course to become administrative assistant), schools offering a larger number of courses may be able to benefit from economies of scales that smaller schools are unable to enjoy, equipment may be more difficult to obtain and instructors more difficult to hire in some regions than others (for e.g. comparing the region of São Paulo and states across the Amazon rainforest). As a result, the fixed value per training hour and student translates into varying financial returns across providers and regions.

Part of the training subsidy that training providers receive must be transferred to eligible PRONATEC participants. This amount is meant to cover commuting expenses and a meal per day for the duration of the training course. By establishing this training subsidy, the Federal Government - and MEC in particular - aims at overcoming potential financial barriers to access adult training. Rules for the attribution of this subsidy were clarified in an official document published by MEC in 2015 (Portaria MEC nr. 817/2015). Alternatively, training institutions can directly provide transportation and meals to their students.

The constitutional law establishes that the assistance provided to individuals should take into account the specificities of the region, the characteristics of the individuals, and all factors that may influence access to the training institution, class attendance and the successful completion of the training course. However, the “Bolsa Formação” was set at BRL 2 per hour of training for every student attending a PRONATEC FIC course in any institution across the country. As discussed previously, fixing the amount of the subsidy was meant to simplify significantly the procedure, preventing any disputes, claims of personal favours or conflicts of interest. It was also aimed at reducing bureaucracy when transferring funds to individuals, through training providers. This a typical example of a situation where the fear of misappropriation of public funds wins over what would have been the optimal policy design.

In fact, there are several issues as a result of this fixed value policy. First of all, different training providers across the country have different incentives to adapt their methods and curricula, as well as a different capacities to invest, expand and innovate in their course offering with PRONATEC. Large training providers have an advantage over small training providers. In fact, providers with a wider variety of courses can more easily balance out losses on one course with benefits from another. Small training providers, or providers with a limited number of courses in offer, are more constrained. Second, this creates incentives for training institutions to offer courses that have very little provision costs. These may not necessarily be the courses that are most needed in the labour market and may lead to further distortions in the alignment of training offer and training needs. Third, the policy may not attend the needs of the most vulnerable workers adequately and may perpetuate an unequal access to training opportunities.

These are good reasons to justify that the training subsidy per student/hour should not be fixed, but adjusted depending on the individual, the training course offered, the location and the type of training provider – as already discussed in subsection 4.4. There could be a small set of possible values for the training subsidy, so as to keep the system simple, and an objective list of conditions to qualify for each subsidy amount. As long as these criteria are clearly defined and kept transparent, the system should remain resilient to corruption, political and personal favours.

Attendance monitoring for funding purposes is under the responsibility of each training provider. Every month, the training institution has to enter into the SISTEC system each student’s attendance. This has to be done before the tenth of the subsequent month and is a necessary condition for Federal funds allocated to PRONATEC to be transferred to schools. Schools are responsible for putting in place a system so that students can consult and confirm their attendance record. Students have up to one month after the completion of the training course to confirm their attendance record on the system. This was meant to minimise attendance misreporting from training institutions. However, neither training institutions nor students have an incentive to report lack of attendance. Training institutions would not want students to exceed the thresholds set up by MEC below which they will not receive their payment. Students interested in keeping the training subsidy of BRL 2 per hour of training would also not want to admit that they attended less than a certain amount of classes. Given that both parties’ incentives are aligned, it is unclear whether this attendance reporting system works effectively. One way of preventing that training providers and students abuse from the system and implicitly pact on misreporting attendance would be to conduct inspections to training providers.

5.2. Heterogeneity across training providers

Figure 5.1 displays the relative importance of each type of institution in the provision of PRONATEC training courses, according to official government sources. The majority of FIC courses were provided by SENAI, the technical schools from “Sistema S” dedicated to the manufacturing sector, closely followed by SENAC, the equivalent school dedicated to the sales and services. Private institutions, on the other hand, were barely involved in the provision of FIC courses.

Figure 5.1. PRONATEC training providers between 2011 and 2018

Source: SISTEC micro data set of PRONATEC students’ records.

Using the micro-data records from SISTEC, and focusing only on FIC courses that have not been cancelled, it is possible to identify the number of different training classes and the number of different training courses available per type of institution.

Figure 5.2 looks at the total number of different classes opened (each year, in different locations, for different training courses) and Figure 5.3 looks at the total number of training courses (aggregating different classes in separated locations and years). Curiously, Federal institutes and universities offered a much higher number of different training courses than technical schools from “Sistema S” (SENAI, SENAC, SENAR and SENAT), relative to the number of students enrolled and number of classes opened. A similar pattern is observed for state and municipal technical schools. This suggests that technical schools from “Sistema S” are more specialised than public institutions in terms of training provision. Public institutions offer a larger variety of training courses. In a way, this means that public providers are open to a wider profile of students, promote diversity and possibly encourage inter-disciplinary interactions. But further specialisation can also mean that schools from “Sistema S” have accumulated more experience teaching in these particular fields, potentially increasing their courses’ quality.

Figure 5.2. Number of classes per type of training provider between 2011 and 2018

Note: Only FIC courses are considered. Data aggregated over the years.

Source: SISTEC micro data set of PRONATEC students’ records.

Exploiting the same data source, it is also possible to investigate the number of classes opened in the morning, afternoon and evening shifts (Figure 5.4). Public institutions (from the Federal network or state and municipal schools) privileged classes during the evening shift, allowing individuals to engage in training while employed or actively looking for a job. Private institutions, on the contrary, offered the majority of their classes during the afternoon, making it more difficult to reconcile adult training with other commitments. Technical schools from “Sistema S” offered a balanced number of classes across different shifts. This may suggest that public providers have greater concerns with equality of opportunity, inclusiveness and removing barriers to training, than private training institutions. Private providers may have been selecting a certain profile of students by adding barriers to access training, such as lack of time, for example. Another potential explanation is that public providers have limited resources available during the morning and afternoon shifts, while providing education to regular students, while technical schools from “Sistema S” and private schools face less resource constraints.

Figure 5.3. Number of courses per type of training provider between 2011 and 2018

Source: SISTEC micro data set of PRONATEC students’ records.

Figure 5.5 represents the share of students enrolled in distance learning mode out of the total number of students enrolled for training by each type of institution. Public institutions record a higher share of students enrolled in distance learning mode than private institutions and technical schools from “Sistema S”. Once more, this suggests that public schools have higher concerns with reaching out to a wider profile of students, and in particular, students who may have faced barriers to participation in adult training for work-related, family-related or geographical reasons. Moving forward, further incentives should be created so that the offer of distance learning courses is expanded, even in private schools and technical schools from the S-system.

Figure 5.4. Distribution of classes per schedule shift by type of training institution between 2011 and 2018

Source: SISTEC micro data set of PRONATEC students’ records.

Given that there are no strict rules on the number of places per class, training providers are relatively free to decide how many students each training class can accommodate, within the limits of the total number of places MEC has allowed them to offer. The variance of the number of places per class is not very high across technical schools from “Sistema S” and public institutions, as can be inferred from Figure 5.6. Private training providers, however, exhibit a higher number of places per class than the remaining type of institutions, potentially in an attempt to maximise the amount of public funding received for a fixed amount of costs.

Figure 5.5. Percentage of students registered in distance learning mode by type of training provider between 2011 and 2018

Source: SISTEC micro data set of PRONATEC students' records.

The total number of hours of training for FIC courses, on the other hand, has to be comprised between 160 and 400 hours. Within that range, nevertheless, training providers can set the number of hours of training at their own discretion. Figure 5.6 shows the average number of hours of training for all the FIC courses offered by a similar type of training provider. The number of hours of training does not vary by much across type of institutions. Technical schools from SENAR and SENAT are the ones exhibiting the lowest average, while private institutions, SENAI schools and Federal universities, display the highest average.

Figure 5.6. Average students per class and average hours of training by type of training provider between 2011 and 2018

Source: SISTEC micro data set of PRONATEC students’ records.

Hiring professors and instructors is also entirely under the responsibility of training providers. Public institutions offering PRONATEC training courses can hire new instructors for specific PRONATEC courses. However, public providers always have to ensure transparency in the selection procedures, respecting all the legal formalities associated with a public hiring procedure, and observe all the requirements of a public employment contract. Private institutions and technical schools from “Sistema S”, who are not subject to rules concerning public hiring procedures and public employment contracts, benefit from greater flexibility, lower administrative costs and bureaucracy. Consequently, it is easier for the later types of institutions to adapt their training offer quickly to what is being demanded by MEC and its partners, to open new courses and respond timely to changes in the labour market. Public hiring of professors for PRONATEC courses should be made simpler so that public providers are not lagging behind other training providers and can respond quickly to new training demands. Otherwise, there might be substantial differences in the re-employment rates of students enrolled in different institutions, as well as differences in teaching quality, if public providers are unable to quickly hire adequate professors.

Training providers are strongly encouraged by MEC to follow-up with their students after completion of the training course so as to help them on the transition to work. Different methods are suggested, such as appointments with a career counsellor, the organisation of soft skills training workshops, mock job interviews, etc. However, there are no legal obligations or clear guidance binding training institutions to comply with these practices. Effectively, different types of institutions, or even similar institutions across different locations, adopt different methods and follow students with different levels of intensity. Similarly, there are no obligation to survey students after completion of the training course so as to enquire about their employability, post-training earnings, overall satisfaction with the training course, etc. In most schools, students are only surveyed informally and not in a systematic manner. Only SENAI technical schools have developed a systematic survey to collect post-training information about their students, as part of their overall method to evaluate the quality of their training courses (Box 5.1). These differences across institutions are likely to result in different levels of training quality across providers. Ultimately, returns to PRONATEC training may also be different for students graduating from different types of institutions.

Box 5.1. SENAI’s training assessment method

Since 2009, SENAI has developed a systematic method to assess the training courses offered by all its technical schools across the country ( The assessment, called “Sistema de Avaliação da Educação Profissional e Tecnológica” or SAEP, takes place in four distinct phases:

  1. 1. Assessment of projects. Before a training course is created, SENAI’s regional departments are required to assess local demand for skills. After identifying local skill needs, regional departments must assess whether technical schools in their area already possess the necessary infra-structure and faculty to train workers for these particular skills. If not, they must report what would be the investment needed. Such projects are submitted to the regional council of each state’s SENAI who can approve the proposals and allocate the funds to make the necessary investments. It is only after the council’s approval that a course plan is developed with its proposed content, duration, etc.

  2. 2. Assessment of courses’ development. At the start of the training course, the pedagogical team of each SENAI technical school assesses whether the course plan has been strictly followed. For that purpose, faculty, students and the school management team are asked about teaching quality, pedagogical methods and the infra-structures, namely the classroom, the laboratory, the library, etc.

  3. 3. Assessment of students’ performance. As soon as 80% of the training course has been completed, students can be asked to sit an on-line test to evaluate whether they have acquired the necessary skills for the occupation they are training for. Such tests are prepared by the faculty of SENAI and consist of multiple-choice questions. They assess specific skills that students should have developed during the training, but also, general and management competencies. On-line tests are common across all SENAI schools in the country and standardized. Students are also required to fill a short background questionnaire so as to provide information on their socio-economic context.

  4. 4. Since 2017, a subset of the students who take the on-line test are also selected for a practical test. The practical test consists of presenting students with a concrete problem that could come up in their work routine and assessing the proposed solution.

  5. 5. Post-training earnings survey. After completing the training course, students are asked to fill a questionnaire that collects information about their current professional status, whether they are employed in the area they were training for, what their current occupation is, who their employer is and what their expectations are for the future. One year after the course completion, students are surveyed again in order to understand if their employment situation has changed. Students are asked whether they continue to work in the same area, with the same employer and if their earnings have changed. Whenever the student is employed one year after the course completion, SENAI may also interview the student’s employer. Employers are asked how satisfied they are with SENAI training graduates. Employers are randomly selected to cover all training modalities offered by SENAI.

These systematic assessments have helped SENAI to improve the quality of their training courses over time, just as the employability of their students has increased. This process has contributed towards their positive reputation amongst employers, helping the institution to place its students even more easily and generating a virtuous cycle.

In order to minimise the heterogeneity in training quality across institutions and to improve the overall quality of PRONATEC training courses, MEC should impose further requirements to training schools in order to become PRONATEC providers and receive public funding. Some of the criteria that could be demanded, picking-up on several considerations made so far, would be:

  • To organise induction sessions before the start or at the very beginning of training classes so as to set expectations right and reduce drop-out rates;

  • To offer career guidance services, assistance in looking for a job or a practical internship to gain experience in the field of study;

  • To offer some training in soft skills, together with technical skills, such as team work, corporate responsibility, professional behaviour, entrepreneurship, etc.;

  • To develop a formal framework to evaluate training courses, such as the one developed by SENAI;

  • To increase the offer of flexible learning opportunities – perhaps with a minimum threshold of enrolments via distance learning – such as e-learning, part-time courses or evening courses - to ensure equal opportunity in adult training across all types of institutions.

In Japan, clear guidelines are provided to training providers (OECD, 2018). Only training providers who can demonstrate that they comply with such guidelines are accredited and allowed to offer training courses subsidised by the government. The Japanese government conducts regular inspections to training providers and requires the submission of several documents to ensure that guidelines are effectively implemented. The Japanese government also offers workshops to staff at training institutions to clarify the content of such guidelines and provide concrete examples on how to implement them.

Another mechanism that could be put in place is to transfer resources to training providers based on quality indicators. In fact, transferring funds based on the number of students enrolled, without a reliable system to monitor student attendance, may lead to low internal efficiency of training institutions and a strengthening of supply-driven training provision (Ziderman, 2016). Nevertheless, to move towards a financing system based on quality indicators, a clearly formulated, transparent and objective disbursement policy would need to be developed. Otherwise, funding could be affected by political influence, interest group pressure or the negotiating skills of the institutional actors.

There is yet another system that has been used in some countries to subsidise training courses while fostering competition amongst training providers so as to ensure a minimum level of training quality: individual training vouchers or individual training accounts. In these systems, instead of budgetary allocations being made directly to training providers, individuals pay tuition fees charged by training institutions, wholly or in part, through vouchers of entitlement to training courses. Voucher schemes have been used for adult training in some countries, although most programmes are still on a trial basis. Box 5.2 provides further details on their functioning.

Box 5.2. Individual Learning Accounts
  1. 1. There are two types of individual learning accounts (ILA):

    • ILA saving schemes. Individuals save on a regular basis towards payment for periodic training over the working life. The government can create incentives for individuals to save for this type of accounts by making tax concessions or matching individual contributions by the same amount or a fixed percentage of the saved amount. This type of scheme has been implemented in the U.S. After having accumulated sufficient savings, individual can choose from several training options directly.

    • ILA voucher-type. Individuals are entitled to access training courses at zero or reduced cost. Usually, vouchers are attributed to low-skilled and low-income individuals. Such schemes have been implemented in Austria, Belgium and Scotland.

  2. 2. In France, yet a third type of scheme has been developed since 2004. Employees are entitled to request 20 hours of annual training from their employers, up to a maximum of 120 hours over a six-year period. Once accumulated, individuals can choose which training they wish to attend, but their employers must approve their choice. Training can be taken during or outside working hours. If taken outside working hours, individuals are entitled to receive 50% of their net wage for each hour of training taken. However, so far, only 30% of firms have used this scheme and less than 7% of employees in total (Ziderman, 2016).

5.3. Alignment of the training offer with labour market needs

Since 2011, MEC published four editions of the FIC courses catalogue (“Guia de cursos FIC”). The first edition, from November 2011, contemplated 442 different training courses. The second edition, published in October 2012, had 515 different FIC courses. The third edition, from September 2013, already had 657 courses, and the last edition, circulated in 2016, proposed 646 different courses.

The publication of a catalogue of training courses that could be offered within the PRONATEC programme is one of the novelties, compared with previous Federal adult learning programmes (PLANFOR and PNQ). It ensures that similar training courses have the same standards across the country, in terms of entry requirements and hours of training, for example. Another advantage is that only training courses previously approved and certified by MEC can be offered within PRONATEC, limiting the risk that low-quality training courses are publicly funded. In fact, PRONATEC requesting partners can only request training courses contemplated by the catalogues published by MEC. One of the drawbacks, as discussed previously, is that skill needs specific to a particular region or municipality, are unlikely to be fulfilled by PRONATEC FIC courses since they most likely are not considered in a national catalogue. Additionally, given that the catalogues contemplate a large number of courses, it is unlikely that all of them respond to current or anticipated skill needs. Many of the courses proposed in the catalogues are training courses commonly found in all technical schools, for which there already is a large number of students enrolled. To that extent, the definition of the FIC course catalogue is mostly supply-driven.

Based on that catalogue, it is under each PRONATEC demanding partner’s responsibility to make sure that the training courses requested under their modalities will increase training participants’ opportunities and prospects in the labour market. Each partner is encouraged to discuss with social partners and local employers in order to identify training needs in their area of intervention. Nevertheless, there are no specific guidelines for that process, nor any systematic methodology that ought to be used by all partners equally. As a consequence, each PRONATEC requesting partner can adopt a completely different procedure. In most cases, consultations with the private sector and social partners only occurs occasionally and informally. For some PRONATEC modalities, such consultations do not even occur.

MDIC is the only PRONATEC demanding partner that developed a systematic method to collect information about training needs from the private sector directly (Box 5.3). This method consists in a web platform called “SuperTec”, where firms can register and fill-in a questionnaire regarding their staffing and skill needs. MDIC uses such information when defining its demand map and requesting courses to MEC. As a result, training requests submitted by MDIC are driven by employers’ skill needs. According to O’Connell, Mation, Basto and Dutz (2017), the average re-employment probability for a job-seeker attending a PRONATEC course was found to be 9% one year after completion. Job-seekers who completed a PRONATEC training course requested by MDIC within the modality “PRONATEC Brasil Maior”, on the other hand, had a higher probability of being employed by almost 15%. These re-employment probabilities only refer to re-employment in the formal sector. Although MDIC’s method has proved quite successful, it still has some limitations.

First of all, registration by firms in the “SuperTec” platform is completely voluntary. Many small and medium enterprises are either not aware of the existence of this platform, or do not see any incentive in registering as they expect MDIC to prioritise requests from large firms. Large firms may also not want to register and submit confidential information regarding their expansion and investment plans, by fear of leakage to their competitors. Therefore, the information collected through the “SuperTec” platform is not representative. While some large firms may see their training needs attended, many others will not take advantage of that tool. In this context, there is scope for improvement and further optimising course requests. Second, the screening work involved with all the requests submitted is resource-intensive. At the moment, MDIC does not possess the financial resources to develop an automated screening procedure. Finally, the criteria used by MDIC staff to sort and prioritise requests is unclear and not fully transparent. It is possible that some firms benefit from this system over others through their personal network and influence.

Box 5.3. MDIC’s “SuperTec” platform

MDIC recently developed a web platform for firms to register and list their current and prospective training needs. This platform, still under development, is called “SuperTec(

Although anyone can register, create a profile and submit the questionnaire, MDIC only considers requests that are submitted by employers, disregarding requests that are submitted by associations, unions or other institutions. This involves substantial screening work by staff at MDIC, but ensures that requests from that ministry are not influenced by other parties that may not be aware of local skill needs.

Through this portal, firms can submit their responses to a questionnaire and request specific training courses for a particular region or geographical area. Apart from specifying training needs, firms are asked to respond to other questions, such as demographics of the firm and questions that will allows MDIC staff to prioritise amongst all the requests received. For example, if requesting a particular training course, firms are justify their request by choosing one of the following options:

  1. 1. The firm’s current activity is increasing and the firm is looking to hire new workers with skills in a particular domain or area;

  2. 2. The firm is requesting courses to provide training to its partners and community. For example, the firm needs its suppliers to develop particular skills;

  3. 3. The firm is making a new investment (a new plant, a new factory, developing a new product, etc.) and the investment requires hiring new workers with a given set of skills;

  4. 4. The firm is replacing or plans to replace its existing workforce by individuals with a different set of skills;

  5. 5. The firm would like to up-skill its current workers.

In the case of an activity increase, a plant expansion or new investment, firms are required to provide additional information, such as the size of the investment, the number of new collaborators the firm is expecting to hire, etc. For the replacement and up-skilling of the current workforce, firms are also asked to specify how many workers would be concerned.

Based on that information, MDIC prioritises requests that will generate new employment and that are expected to contribute for the country’s competitiveness.

As discussed in chapter 2, section 2.1.2, registry in the platform “SuperTec” could be made mandatory for all firms, even small firms and businesses. To mitigate concerns about data confidentiality, rules and regulations concerning the use of confidential data could be strengthened and effectively enforced. Firms should obtain the guarantee that the information will only be used for policy purposes and that only aggregated results will be published, so that no individual firm can be singled out or identified. Alternatively, a random and representative sample of firms could be selected in each region and sector of activity. These firms would then be required to register and submit the training needs form via “SuperTec”. This would resemble an employer survey on skill needs that is representative by sector and sub-nationally.

The information collected via the platform “SuperTec” could then be centrally processed and analysed, using the pooled resources from all the PRONATEC demanding partners and MEC, or the resources from a dedicated Skill Assessment and Anticipation (SAA) technical team or department. Alternatively, demanding ministries could process and analyse the information collected regarding their sector of activity, and different SEEDUCs could process and analyse the information concerning each state or region. MEC would then have the responsibility of making sure that different partners are analysing the information adequately, following similar appropriate methods, as well as conciliating the analyses from each partner. For that purpose, organising regular training in SAA methods across different partners would be highly recommended.

Complemented with other data sources and SAA methods, a shortened list of FIC courses could be defined per sector of activity and/or per region that corresponds to the specific skill needs identified. Such shortened lists of FIC courses could be used as PRONATEC FIC courses catalogues. These catalogues would contemplate a smaller number of courses, but that would respond closer to actual skill needs in each sector and/or region of the country. This process would replace the current procedure of completion of demand maps by each PRONATEC partner and aggregation of requests by MEC. MEC could directly proceed with the “pactuação” process with training providers, based on such shortened catalogues.

In fact, the current procedure has led to an offer of PRONATEC training courses that is not well aligned with labour market needs. Table 5.1 and Table 5.2 list the ten most and least popular training courses, respectively, in terms of number of students pre-enrolled.2

According to the OECD 2018 Skills for Jobs shortages indicators by occupation, general and keyboard clerks, as well as electrical and electronic trades’ workers are occupations in surplus. Nevertheless, some of the most popular training courses fit into these ISCO occupational categories, such as “administrative assistant” and “building electrician for low voltage installations”. Additionally, according the work activities shortage indicators from the Skills for Jobs database, administering, and information and data processing (one of the activities required to perform the job of a “computer operator”), are two of the activities most in surplus. Management of personal resources, on the other hand, is one of the skills most in surplus, while “human resources assistant” is one of the most popular PRONATEC training courses.

Table 5.1. Training courses with highest number of students pre-enrolled

Ten most popular training courses

Administrative assistant

Computer operator

Human resources assistant

Building electrician for low voltage installations

Basic English


Computer assembly and repair

Warehouse keeper

Manicure and pedicure

Operator of overlock and straight line sewing machines

Source: SISTEC micro data set of PRONATEC students’ records.

Table 5.2. Training courses with lowest number of students pre-enrolled

Ten least popular training courses

Animation post-producer

Civil protection agent

Mechanical and hydraulic tractor

Professional for coupling and alignment of tubes

Equipment operator in residual treatment units

Portuguese language and Brazilian culture for deaf - Intermediate level

Photography printer

Lift installation and repair

Machine operator for cinema/theatre set


Source: SISTEC micro data set of PRONATEC students’ records.

According to the OECD 2018 Skills for Jobs shortages indicators by occupation, general and keyboard clerks, as well as electrical and electronic trades’ workers are occupations in surplus. Nevertheless, some of the most popular training courses fit into these ISCO occupational categories, such as “administrative assistant” and “building electrician for low voltage installations”. Additionally, according the work activities shortage indicators from the Skills for Jobs database, administering, and information and data processing (one of the activities required to perform the job of a “computer operator”), are two of the activities most in surplus. Management of personal resources, on the other hand, is one of the skills most in surplus, while “human resources assistant” is one of the most popular PRONATEC training courses.

“Civil protection agent”, on the other hand, which is the second most unpopular training course, belongs to the ISCO occupational category “Protective service workers”, which appears to be in shortage according to the Skills for Jobs indicators. This simple analysis suggests that the training offer requested by several PRONATEC partners does not effectively match the skills demanded in the labour market.

Figure 5.7. Occupational shortage indicator and PRONATEC student enrolment

Note: The total number of students enrolled is depicted in the left-hand side vertical axis and the occupational shortage indicator is represented in the right-hand side axis. A negative value for the occupational shortage indicator means that the occupation is in surplus. A positive value for the indicator means that the occupation is in shortage. Data for the shortage indicator refers to 2014. Data for the number of students enrolled refers to 2012-2018.

Source: SISTEC micro data set of PRONATEC students’ records and OECD Skills for Jobs database.

Figure 5.7 plots together the occupational shortage indicator from the OECD Skills for Jobs database and the total number of students who confirmed enrolment and actually started a training course leading to each ISCO occupational category. Not all ISCO occupational categories are included because some of them are not specifically mentioned for any of the training courses offered in the latest FIC courses catalogue (or their CBO equivalent).

Based on this comparison, it seems that the alignment between training offer and labour market needs could still be significantly improved. It is striking that the most popular training courses and the two occupations for which most individuals are training are clearly in surplus, while occupations with shortages – such as personal care workers, personal services workers and customer services clerks – total a lower number of PRONATEC students.

The misalignment between training offer and labour market needs can emerge at different stages. First, part of the misalignment might be explained by the training courses requested by PRONATEC demanding partners. If the programme partners do not conduct adequate analysis of labour market needs that feed into their training requests, there is little chance that the final training offer will match the skills needed by employers. In this case, replacing the procedure of “Mapas da demanda” by systematic and regular SAA exercises, with the definition of sector- or region-specific FIC courses catalogues that contemplate a shorter list of training courses, but that respond appropriately to labour market needs, is strongly advised.

Second, the misalignment could also come from the “pactuação” process. In particular, when training providers submit proposals to MEC that may not have been included in the consolidated demand map, but for which they already have the infra-structure in place. This could increase the offer for training courses that are already being supplied in sufficient number as opposed to creating new courses to meet emerging needs. In this case, the “pactuação” procedure should be revised so that training providers can only be funded for courses that would be included in a short FIC courses catalogue that adequately responds to skill needs. It is possible that new investments are required and time is needed to develop new training courses that respond to such needs. However, an adult training programme can only be entirely successful if sufficient time is allowed so that the existing training offer can be aligned and adapted to labour market needs.

Alternatively, implementing a voucher scheme could also help fixing the misalignment occurring at the stage of “pactuação”. Individuals entitled to training vouchers would be free to choose one of the training courses contemplated in a short FIC courses catalogue appropriately defined based on SAA methods. To benefit from the increasing demand for training courses that the attribution of these vouchers would generate, training providers would have strong incentives to offer only the training courses that respond to the identified skills needs. Voucher could be used only in accredited and certified training providers that respond to a list of requirements specified by MEC, such as the ones proposed in this chapter.

The implementation of this voucher scheme would also reduce the bureaucracy associated with the processes of pre-enrolment and confirmation of enrolment discussed in sub-section 5.1.2. It would take into account students’ preferences and potentially increase levels of motivation and lower drop-out rates from the programme. By restricting the use of the training vouchers to courses specified in a local-specific FIC courses catalogue, this scheme would also respond better to local specific skills needs.

Attributing training vouchers would not invalidate the actual governing structure of PRONATEC. Different ministries and SEEDUCs could continue to collaborate, coordinate, and be involved in the (i) selection of individuals from their target population to attribute training vouchers; (ii) development of SAA methods.

If a voucher system is implemented, individuals could choose their training provider and training course freely and hand-in the attributed voucher to the training institution of their choice. The training institution could then claim the funding to the Government by returning all training voucher collected and specifying the training courses chosen by the participants. The government would transfer to the training providers an amount based on that information. Such amount should cover the costs of training provision, as well as transportation costs and a meal per day for the participants. The former would remain with the institution, while the later would be paid by the institution to the training participant, following the current financing procedures of PRONATEC.

Whenever participants pick training courses that are highly demanded in the labour market, but more costly to provide for requiring specific equipment or specialised instructors, the student/hour taught of that course could be funded at a higher value. Similarly, training institutions in areas of the country where it is more difficult to attract instructors or develop high-quality training infra-structures, could also receive a higher value per student/hour. Finally, training voucher could have a unique identifier linked to the individual who benefits from it and has handed it over to the institution. Based on family, social and economic conditions, as well as living area, the amount transferred to the training provider to cover for transportation costs and a meal per day for the participants should also be higher.

Training providers eligible for a higher student/hour value should be clearly identified based on objective and transparent criteria. Training courses that are considered particularly in high-demand in the labour market, but more costly to provide, should also be clearly identified within the restricted list of courses available in a region-specific FIC catalogue developed based on systematic SAA methods.

Finally, it is possible that partner’s requests and pre-enrolments refer individuals to training courses in shortage, but due to lack of information, students largely confirm their enrolment and attend training courses that lead to occupations mostly in surplus. If so, further public information about labour market trends and career counselling services could contribute to reduce the misalignment between the training effectively supplied and the skills demanded by employers. Career orientation and counselling would be the more important if the implementation of a voucher scheme is considered, leaving the choice of training programme to individuals.


Amoroso Neto, V. et al. (2017), Os efeitos da educação profissional e do PRONATEC sobre os salários, INSPER policy paper n. 25.

Barbosa Filho, F. H. et al. (2015), Relatório Técnico - PRONATEC Bolsa Formação: Uma avaliação inicial sobre reinserção no mercado de trabalho formal, Ministério da Fazenda, Secretaria de Politica Econômica (SPE), Brasília.

Braune Wiik, F. et al. (2014), Estudo qualitativo junto a alunos egressos e desistentes, representantes das unidades ofertantes e interlocutores municipais do PRONATEC – Brasil sem miséria (BSM), Secretaria de Avaliação e Gestão da Informação, Ministério do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate à Fome, Cadernos de Estudos - Síntese das Pesquisas de Avaliação de Programas Sociais do MDS 2011 – 2014.

Ministério da Educação - Secretaria de Educação Profissional e Tecnológica (2017), Manual de gestão Bolsa-Formação do Programa Nacional de Acesso ao Ensino Técnico e Emprego – PRONATEC, 2ª edição.

Ministério da Educação - Secretaria de Educação Profissional e Tecnológica (2011), Guia PRONATEC de cursos FIC, 1ª edição.

Ministério da Educação - Secretaria de Educação Profissional e Tecnológica (2012), Guia PRONATEC de cursos FIC, 2ª edição.

Ministério da Educação - Secretaria de Educação Profissional e Tecnológica (2013), Guia PRONATEC de cursos FIC, 3ª edição.

Ministério da Educação - Secretaria de Educação Profissional e Tecnológica (2016), Guia PRONATEC de cursos FIC, 4ª edição.

Ministério da Educação – Secretaria de Educação Profissional e Tecnológica – Diretoria de Articulação e Expansão das Redes de Educação Tecnológica – Coordenação Geral de Educação Profissional e Tecnológica a Distância e Tecnologias Educacionais (2018), Manual do usuário: Registro e confirmação de frequência para Bolsa-Formação, Instituições Públicas e SNA, versão 2.0.

Montagner, P. and L. Herberto Muller (2015), Inclusão produtiva urbana: o que fez o PRONATEC Bolsa formação entre 2011 e 2014, Ministério do Desenvolvimento Social e Combate à Fome e Ministério da Educação, Cadernos de Estudos – Desenvolvimento Social em Debate, n. 24.

O’Connell, S. D. et al. (2017). Can business input improve the effectiveness of worker training? Evidence from Brazil's Pronatec-MDIC. The World Bank.

OECD (2018), Getting Skills Right: Future-ready adult learning systems, OECD Publishing, Paris. Forthcoming.

PRONATEC: Situações de Matrícula, Versão 35.3, de 13 de Abril de 2015.

Ziderman, A. (2016), Funding Mechanisms for Financing Vocational Training: an analytical framework. IZA Policy Paper No. 110.


← 1. Several rules apply when computing the amount to be transferred. First of all, training institutions may choose to provide a total number of hours of training for FIC courses between 160h and 400h. The catalogue of FIC courses published by MEC may determine a different interval and will also set a maximum number of hours that can be refunded. Training providers offering more hours beyond that limit will not be reimbursed for these additional hours. Second, course openings that have been cancelled before the start of classes will not be added up to the above formula. Students who did not confirm their pre-registration, by lack of requirements, documentation, for not showing up or because the course was full, are not taken into account in the calculations either. Third, students who do not show up in classes during the first five consecutive days of training, attend less than 50% of classes during the first ten days of training, or attend less than 50% of classes after 20% of the total training has elapsed, are automatically deregistered from the training. These students are not taken into account for the above calculation either. Fourth, and last, students who drop out of the training course up to 20% of the total training has elapsed do not count towards the formula either. Student who drop out after at least 21% of the training course has elapsed would count with the entire training hours load for the above calculation. Students that drop-out before 20% of the training course is complete, can still be replaced with other students kept on a waiting list.

← 2. The ranking is robust to classifying courses based on the total number of places allocated after the demand aggregation by MEC and the total number of classes opened across the country and different training providers.

End of the section – Back to iLibrary publication page