After developing and progressively introducing national qualifications frameworks (NQFs), European countries are starting to assess their experiences, and the multiple roles and benefits of the frameworks are gradually emerging.

  • National qualifications frameworks offer policy-makers a more comprehensive picture of the qualifications landscape in their country. They promote the use of learning outcomes as a tool to describe and classify qualifications, thus increasing their transparency.
  • In some countries, NQFs act as a reference point for identifying, documenting, assessing and recognising learning acquired in non-formal and informal settings.
  • Some countries use their framework as a ‘bridge’ to the huge variety of learning activities taking place outside the formal education and training system.
  • NQFs are contributing to strengthening the links between initial and continuing education and training.
  • The frameworks’ levels, reflecting countries’ classification of qualifications, make their way into diplomas and qualifications databases. Twenty countries now award diplomas and certificates bearing a reference to the national qualifications frameworks and the European qualifications framework’s level they correspond to.
  • Also, in some countries NQFs have helped social partners and other policy-makers to identify gaps in the existing qualifications offer. They have inspired the development of new qualifications, especially at level 5 of the European qualifications framework, thus taking on an active role in the renewal of qualifications and curricula.

Ultimately however, the NQFs’ impact will depend on their ability to make a difference to end-users, be these learners, employers, or education and training providers.

For further reading, download Cedefop’s new briefing note on recent developments in the field of national qualifications frameworks.

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