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National qualifications frameworks gather speed across Europe

As national qualifications frameworks (NQFs) are being implemented, their benefits and added value become increasingly visible. Cedefop’s latest European inventory on NQFs gives an overview of the frameworks’ progress.

It also shows that the catalyst for their dynamic development has been the European qualifications framework (EQF), revised in 2017. The inventory offers a wealth of information on the state of national frameworks and on how they compare to each other and relate to the EQF.

European countries have been pressing ahead with the development of their frameworks to create comprehensive maps of qualifications in all sectors: vocational education and training, higher education, general education, adult learning. Frameworks are being opened up to include qualifications awarded outside formal education and to help validate non-formally and informally acquired skills and competences.

The frameworks’ systematic use of learning outcomes promotes transparency and comparability of and trust in qualifications across countries and systems. Countries give high priority to linking frameworks and validation arrangements.

The oldest frameworks in Europe – in France, Ireland and the UK (Scotland and Wales) – have made progress towards becoming ‘all-rounders’. They are now permanent features of national qualifications systems underpinning all education and training policies. They have integrated all types of qualifications, public and private, and accommodate non-formal and informal learning.

In April 2019, 35 European countries have formally linked their national qualifications frameworks to the EQF and 30 countries indicate EQF/NQF levels in new qualification documents and/or Europass supplements.