The national register of qualifications (NSK) ( For more information on the NSK: http://www.narodnikvalifikace.cz/en-us/) addresses learning outcomes acquired outside formal education and training, responding directly to the needs of the labour market. It has eight levels and is currently populated with qualifications between EQF levels 2 to 7. Qualification levels in the NSK are described in terms of competences. The level descriptors of the NSK, although not divided into knowledge, skills and responsibility and autonomy, were developed in close connection with the eight levels of the EQF and are compatible with the EQF descriptors (NÚV, 2015). They reflect the complexity of work activities. Each qualification included in the NSK is described by a qualification standard (a list of expected learning outcomes) and an assessment standard (set of evaluation criteria). They are based on the descriptions of occupations in the national system of occupations ( The national system of occupations: www.nsp.cz). The Act 179/2006 distinguishes between 'vocational qualifications', which testify to the professional competence of an individual to perform occupational or work activities in a specific occupation, or in two or more occupations to the extent specified in the qualification standard, and 'comprehensive vocational qualifications', reflecting the vocational competence of an individual to duly perform all activities in a certain occupation ( Certain vocational qualifications can be combined to obtain a comprehensive vocational qualification and, after a final exam, can lead to an IVET qualification at EQF level 3 or 4. More information on the NQF for higher education can be found at).
The learning-outcomes-based NQF for higher education ( More information on the NQF for higher education can be found at: https://www.msmt.cz/vzdelavani/vysoke-skolstvi/ramec-kvalifikaci-vysokoskolskeho-vzdelavani-ceske-republiky) covers three levels, corresponding to levels 6 to 8 of the EQF. It includes academic qualifications (bachelor, master and doctoral degrees), but excludes tertiary vocational education (DiS) degrees. Descriptors are divided into professional knowledge, professional skills and general competences. This division is compatible with the overarching framework for the European higher education area (QF-EHEA) and also with the EQF descriptors.
A set of level descriptors for primary and secondary education (EQF levels 1 to 4) was also drafted in 2012, based on core curricula. In this proposal, descriptors were grouped into three categories: knowledge, specific study and work skills and transferable skills. They are, however, not in use.
In 2013, a group of experts from education and the labour market drafted a proposal for national comprehensive descriptors, reflecting both the EQF descriptors and the existing national sectoral descriptors. This proposal was updated in 2016, but the idea for a comprehensive NQF has not been taken forward.
The learning outcomes approach is widely used, although applied and interpreted slightly differently across education levels and subsystems. The Education Act, in force since 2005, introduced learning outcomes in national core curricula for all levels below tertiary. The use of learning outcomes as a starting point at all levels of the education system was one of the aims of the Strategy for education policy until 2020 (Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, 2014). An official Czech translation ( http://www.nuv.cz/file/3403/ ) of Cedefop's Handbook on defining, writing and applying learning outcomes ( https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/publications/4156) was published in 2018.
Core curricula for primary and secondary education make the distinction between knowledge and skills and emphasise key competences (learning, problem solving, communication, social and interpersonal interaction, civic involvement and work skills) and their practical use. Expected learning outcomes are defined in terms of activities, practice-oriented, usable in everyday life and verifiable (tasks that students should be able to perform). Framework educational programmes in pre-primary, primary and secondary education are being revised, aiming to define learning outcomes for more educational stages and to better focus on skills for future jobs (European Commission, 2019).
Curriculum reform in vocational education and the development of relevant methodologies, and the Act on the verification and recognition of results of further education, have set the ground for a competence-based and learning-outcomes-oriented approach in VET. Initial VET (IVET) core curricula are increasingly being aligned with competences defined in the NSK, which in turn are based on occupational standards in the NSP. The holistic character of the term 'competence' is emphasised. Knowledge, skills and attitudes are not seen as 'atomised' entities which can be judged in isolation from each other (Cedefop, 2016).
In higher education, each study programme has a 'graduate profile' (general programme description) and programme goals, described in terms of learning outcomes. Learning outcomes are defined as professional knowledge, professional skills and general competences that graduates should be able to demonstrate on completion of a specific learning phase. Knowledge and skills are subject-specific, while competences are more general: they include judgment, communicative ability (including in foreign languages) and preparation for continuing learning. The use of professional knowledge and skills in a particular context, with a particular degree of autonomy and responsibility, is described as a competence (NÚV, 2015). The National Accreditation Bureau for Higher Education recommends that higher education institutions structure learning outcomes in this way, and it is intended that the qualifications framework for higher education be used in the accreditation process (Cedefop, 2016).