National Qualifications Framework in Europe – They play a key role in improving transparency and comparability of qualifications nationally and internationally but have limited visibility


During 2015-16, political commitment and technical advancement in developing and implementing national qualifications frameworks (NQFs) have continued. More frameworks have been formally adopted and have reached operational status, becoming an integrated feature of national qualification systems. This has made it possible for more countries to complete their link to the European qualifications framework (EQF); by mid-2017, 32 countries had linked their national qualifications levels to EQF levels. In more than 20 countries, the NQF and EQF levels feature on new qualification documents and/or qualifications databases.

The sixth Cedefop NQF monitoring report confirms that NQFs play a key role in implementation of the EQF and in improving transparency and comparability of qualifications nationally and internationally. They have helped make national education and qualification systems more readable and easier to understand within and across countries. Evidence shows that with their comprehensive nature – covering all levels and types of qualifications and promoting a learning outcomes perspective – NQFs trigger reforms. Increased cooperation and coordination of stakeholders across education subsystems and between education and the labour market can be observed. The connection between NQFs and validation has become stronger. Countries signal or have already implemented procedures to include qualifications awarded outside formal education. Further, comprehensive frameworks have helped identify gaps in provision as illustrated by EQF level 5 qualifications and made visible vocational qualifications at EQF levels 5-8. This puts NQFs at the heart of supporting learners in their lifelong learning and working pathways. However, there has been limited visibility and use of NQFs by labour market actors.

Qualifications frameworks have occasionally been used to support change and reform in education and training. In most cases, however, frameworks are mainly used as tools for communication and for reshaping dialogue between education and training. While rarely used for direct regulation, most NQFs see their key objective as bridging complex and (to some extent) fragmented qualification systems. This function is innovative and can potentially help to address the increasingly complex world of qualifications, as education and training adjust to possibilities offered by the internet and the needs of global technologies and markets.

Cooperation on the implementation of the European qualifications framework (EQF) now includes 39 countries: 28 EU Member States as well as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey. The EQF recommendation that provides the basis for this cooperation (adopted in 2008) was revised in 2017, underlining the continuous nature of the EQF implementation and highlighting the need for increased cooperation among stakeholders across institutional, national and sectoral borders.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at National qualifications framework developments in European countries | Cedefop


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