The Austrian NQF has reached the operational stage. The NQF Act ( The NQF Act was published in the Federal Law Gazette 14/2016, Part I, issued on 21 March 2016. https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/Dokumente/BgblAuth/BGBLA_2016_I_14/BGBLA_2016_I_14.pdf), establishing procedures for allocating qualifications to the eight levels of the NQF and the responsible bodies and the NQF manual ( Handbuch für die Zuordnung von Qualifikationen zum Nationalen Qualifikationsrahmen [Manual for the assignment of qualifications to the national qualification framework], available on the NQF webpage. https://www.qualifikationsregister.at/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/HandbuchNQR2019_RZ_bf.pdf ) describing the process, principles and criteria for allocation, were adopted in 2016. The allocation request form was updated in 2019. Academic higher education qualifications (bachelor, master and PhD/doctoral degrees) are directly allocated to levels 6, 7 and 8 through the NQF law. Mapping of all other qualifications is based on a request for mapping a qualification made to the NQF NCP, with a detailed description of the qualification, related learning outcomes and the assessment procedure. The NQF distinguishes between formally and non-formally acquired qualifications, the former being those, which are government-regulated, and the latter, which are those not regulated by the government.
Mapping of qualifications awarded in the formal education and training system started in 2017. The initial focus has been on qualifications from the VET sector at levels 4, 5 and 6, starting with VET school-based and apprenticeship qualifications ( In-company training is based on a training regulation valid throughout Austria, which is within the remit of the Federal Ministry of Economy, but largely shaped by the social partners. ); these were followed by qualifications under the responsibility of other ministries, such as defence and healthcare, at levels 5 and 8 respectively. A decision on inclusion of general education qualifications in the NQF has not yet been made.
Inclusion of non-government regulated qualifications into the NQF started in 2019, with the first eight levelled in 2020. A quality assurance process has been put in place and six NQF service points were set up in 2019, serving as intermediaries between qualification providers and the NQF NCP. Three deadlines per year have been set for submission of allocation requests; the NCP plans to allocate around 20 non-government regulated qualifications a year (European Commission and Cedefop, 2020).
Mapped qualifications are included in the national qualifications register ( The Austrian qualifications register is available at: www.qualifikationsregister.at ), which currently contains 50 qualifications (November 2020), including qualifications exemplarily representing a whole qualification type. The qualifications register indicates NQF and EQF levels, as well as a description of learning outcomes, the qualification provider, rights/entitlement, sectors and fields of activity, access requirements and duration of training. Discussions are under way to include NQF levels in the database of the Austrian Employment Service. Both NQF and EQF levels are, in some cases, indicated on new qualifications from VET, higher education, and on some of the non-government regulated qualifications that have been mapped to the NQF, and on Europass supplements ( The webpage of the Austrian Europass Centre is available at: www.europass.at ).
The NQF is being used as a basis for reform and development in VET qualifications, with significant influence in VET at higher levels. There is a strong link between the NQF and the curricula of technical and vocational colleges, which are being constantly updated based on the NQF and labour market requirements. The new legal acts regulating VET qualifications such as Meister or Ingenieur make reference to the NQF and its adoption act. The new Ingenieur qualification ( The legal act regulating the Ingenieur qualification is available in German at: https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/GeltendeFassung.wxe?Abfrage=Bundesnormen&Gesetzesnummer=20009785) was developed in consequence of the NQF, as the methods for identifying the competences in the previous Ingenieur qualification did not match NQF requirements (European Commission and Cedefop, 2020).
Initial communication efforts have been oriented towards qualification-awarding bodies, aiming to help them prepare their qualifications for the mapping process and inclusion in the NQF register and experts using the NQF in their work. Future efforts will be directed to bringing the NQF closer to workers, job-seekers and learners (European Commission and Cedefop, 2020). Dissemination of information about the NQF is carried out via the NQF website ( The NQF website and register are available at: www.qualifikationsregister.at), newsletters, seminars and one-to-one meetings.