UpSkill, set up by Digital Portugal in 2020, is a large-scale reference program related to the national digital skills strategy, aimed at upskilling and reskilling of the labour force in Portugal. At the same time, the goal of the initiative is also to ensure no citizen is left behind the processes, sped up by the digital transformation and the emergence of new and advanced technologies. The program also targets any citizens interested in, and motivated to, take on new professional challenges and embark on projects and careers within the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. On a broader level, the initiative supports citizens, employees, jobseekers, but also businesses: by promoting qualifications in the ICT sector and supporting the reskilling of employees with a focus on digital, raising businesses' and SMEs' competitiveness.
With this approach, Digital Portugal contributes to the Portuguese labour market, ensuring citizens can access a wide range of career opportunities and setting the scene for continuous development in this area by supporting unemployed and underemployed professionals, looking to enter the digital sector. The main stakeholders behind the UpSkill initiative include representatives from both the public and private sector - the Portuguese government, the Portuguese Association for the Development of Communication (APDC), polytechnic institutes, the National Employment Service (IEFP), InCoDe 2030, and more than 20 partner companies.
UpSkill aims to reskill 3,000 workers and jobseekers through training and development of digital, network security and programming skills and bridge the identified skills gap in the Portuguese labour market whilst raising participants' capabilities to directly secure employment. The two trainings currently offered by UpSkill focus on the topics of programming and platform and network management. Trainings under the program's framework are structured in two parts: a 6-month study period in a polytechnic institute, followed by a 3-month internship in a partner company. Financial aid is also available, ensuring jobseekers and those with fewer skills can take full advantage of the program: participants receive a scholarship of 1,200€ per month to cover for living expenses.
With this broad range of targeted actions, UpSkill's goal is to attract and support more and better-skilled professionals at all levels of competencies and throughout economic sectors, and help businesses and companies attract talents and remain competitive in a rapidly-changing environment. Given the recent start of the upskilling programme, results and analysis on its impact are not available yet and long-term sustainability still has to be evaluated. However, the initiative received a high number of applications and is launching actions to reach its target of 3,000 graduates. The programme is currently available in 9 of the 18 districts in Portugal and offers an easy-to-navigate website, tools for businesses, and internship placements for graduates.