Having your educational and professional qualifications recognised in another country came a step closer to realisation on 23 April 2008, as the presidents of the Council and the Commission signed a joint recommendation on boosting the mobility of learners and workers across Europe.
The move follows a Commission recommendation in 2006 to set up a new European Qualifications Framework (EQF) to facilitate the recognition of qualifications across borders (EURACTIV 07/09/06).The EQF will integrate the Bologna Process for higher education and the Copenhagen Process for vocational and educational training, thereby making qualifications more transparent and understandable.
The aim of the EQF is to promote lifelong learning and mobility across Europe by facilitating the transfer of educational and professional qualifications across borders. Concretely, it will act as a reference framework with eight levels of qualifications that can be recognised and transferred.
In order to make the new scheme work both in the educational and the professional fields, it will be based on learning outcomes (what a person knows and is able to do) rather than learning inputs (the length of study or experience).
The new framework is seen as a key achievement of the Lisbon process to promote a more knowledge-based society, as it removes obstacles to development and training (EURACTIV 04/11/04)
“There is considerable momentum behind the EQF,” said a Commission official, adding that with national qualifications frameworks already being developed, the “implementation process is well underway”.
There are two target dates for member states to adhere to: 2010 is earmarked for all national systems to relate to the EQF, and 2012 for all new qualifications issued by member states to contain a clear reference to the EQF.
It is important to note that since the Commission has no competence over education in the EU, the EQF will be implemented on a voluntary basis. While all member states have signed up to the framework, the degree of implementation may vary. So far, only Greece and Cyprus do not have complementary national qualification frameworks.
The main job sectors that have come out in favour of the proposal, according to the Commission, are the construction, ICT, tourism and sports industries, as they already have a large amount of mobility and would like this to be increased.
But the Commission further adds that the benefits of the EQF will only become apparent once it has been fully implemented. Likewise, the increased mobility of learners and professionals will only become evident by about 2012, it says.