The Portuguese cork industry has invested in recent years in the qualification of human resources and that is reflected in the increase in the middle and upper management of companies, as well as highly qualified professionals. The sector has a new framework of professions and requires new knowledge and skills, as a result of the investments made and with permanently ongoing innovation.
According to data from the Portuguese Department of Strategy and Studies – Ministério do Trabalho, Solidariedade e Segurança Social (MTSSS – Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security), the number of companies in the cork industry increased from 2015 to 2016 by around one percent, maintained the trend observed in recent years. Currently the sector accounts for 685 companies operating in Portugal (516 in the municipality of Santa Maria da Feira), and employ 8324 workers (6535 in the municipality of Santa Maria da Feira).
According to MTSSS, it turns out that about four out of five industry workers have completed only basic education. However, the percentage of those who have gone beyond this level of education is increasing. It grew from 15.5% to 20%, between 2006 and 2012. In this same period, the number of workers of the sector who have completed master’s degrees and PhDs increased by 142%.
In terms of professional qualifications, a positive development has been observed from 2006 to 2012. The percentage of unskilled and semi-skilled workers decreased significantly, i.e. 24%, and, on the other hand, that of skilled workers, supervisors and managers increased. The percentage of skilled workers of the cork industry in 2012 was 49.3%. These were: 7.9% were senior managers, 3% middle managers, 23.3% unskilled workers.
The Cork industry’s vocational training centre (Cincork) organises a set of training courses in the areas of quality, hygiene and safety, foreign languages, industrial management, production environment, communication and marketing, among others. It provides different levels of training to the industry professionals: from modular training to ongoing training, training for entrepreneurs and courses of adult education and training that award academic and professional certificates. Cincork has trained 36,000 people over its 30 years in operation, reaching 70% employability of its graduates in 2014, under its learning courses. In 2017, Cincork has trained 3.601 people.
The SME Training project aims to contribute to the integrated development of these small companies through the development of personal, professional and organisational skills, using methodologies adapted to the dimension and contextual reality of those production units. It operates on a network logic, implemented by the Portuguese Business Association (AEP) as the management entity, and by a group of partner entities, the majority industrial and commercial associations, who implemented the programme with welfare entities and small and very small companies (less than 100 employees). In the case of the cork sector, APCOR promotes the programme. From 2003 to 2015, APCOR facilitated interventions in 207 companies.