As national qualifications frameworks (NQFs) are taking shape, their benefits become visible across the European Union.
After developing and progressively introducing 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 theses learners, employers, or education and training providers.