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European qualifications framework: supporting learning, work and cross-border mobility

The European Commission celebrated 10 years of the European qualifications framework (EQF) with a conference in Brussels on 15 and 16 March, where Cedefop had a prominent role.

Cedefop has been working on transparency and recognition of qualifications since the 1980s and has helped shape the EQF, which was adopted in 2008 and revised in 2017. The EQF’s long-term priority is to strengthen transparency and comparability of European qualifications to support mobility and progression of students and workers across national and institutional borders.

Cedefop Head of Department for VET Systems and Institutions Loukas Zahilas chaired the workshop on how the EQF has helped build trust and increase transparency and comparability of qualifications. Expert Jens Bjornavold chaired the workshop on how the EQF and its focus on learning outcomes have supported the modernisation of education and training systems.

Expert Slava Pevec Grm presented the global inventory of regional and national qualifications frameworks. Cedefop has coordinated, in close cooperation with UNESCO, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and the European Training Foundation, the 2017 edition. This edition includes 100 national cases, seven regional frameworks and transversal analysis of the most important issues in qualifications frameworks such as lifelong learning, validating non-formal learning, building qualification systems, quality assurance and impact.

On the second day, Mr Bjornavold participated in a panel discussion on looking back and looking forward.

Finally, in the panel discussion on how the EQF can support lifelong learning and flexible learning pathways, Cedefop Director James Calleja spoke about the need to focus our attention on the concept outlining a framework more than the European qualifications: ‘A framework is expected to capture the whole picture and not only a part of it; similarly, a qualifications framework cannot leave out any forms of formal, informal and non-formal learning that lead to qualifications but must be inclusive, comprehensive and flexible.’

Mr Calleja noted that, as a result, ‘whether we speak of legacy qualifications or digital qualifications, learning provided by public or private training providers, a framework of qualifications should be a tool that engages attraction and usage.’

He urged participants to focus their attention on the learner or the end-user: ‘Learners should not be required to adjust their learning and aspiration to qualifications frameworks but qualifications frameworks should always respond to the needs of individuals. Hence qualifications frameworks are meant to promote employability, mobility and permeability at the same time giving individuals scope and opportunities for lifelong learning.’