Understanding qualifications

Certificates, diplomas and titles are commonly known as qualifications. Their purpose is to show employers, training providers and individuals what the person holding the qualification has learned and can do.

Every country issues many different qualifications. But for the European labour market to work as intended – that is, for European citizens to be able to work in any EU country – employers, schools and education authorities need to understand what qualifications from other EU countries represent.

Cedefop helps to achieve this mutual understanding by contributing to the concept, design, development and implementation of common European instruments and principles in education and training. These are designed to help people progress through education and training at any age, to change career or move abroad for work or further education. They are also expected to lead to greater consistency in employment, education and training policy throughout Europe. In addition, ESCO, the classification of European Skills/Competences, Qualifications and Occupations aims at providing a single language for all jobseekers, employers and educators.

The common EU instruments and principles include:

Cedefop gives high priority to strengthening synergy and coherence between the EU tools an issue critical for their further implementation and a condition for strengthening their relevance and usefulness to end users. Contributing to the above, Cedefop will support the Commission’s initiative to set up a ‘European area of skills and qualifications’. The purpose of this initiative is to clarify how the European tools can be better connected and further developed in the period 2015-2020. Cedefop will systematically address existing and potential links between the tools and indicate where simplifications and synergies are possible.