New EU qualifications framework to enhance student and worker mobility

The European Qualifications Framework will increase learners’ and workers’ mobility by making national academic and professional qualifications more understandable across Europe.

“People in Europe too often face obstacles when they try to move from one country to another to learn or work, or when they want to build upon previous education or training,” said Education and Training Commissioner Ján Figel’, launching the Commission proposal for a recommendation on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning, on 5 September 2006. 

The proposed European Qualifications Framework (EQF) is designed to function as a ‘translation device’ to make relationships between education and training qualifications of different national systems clearer. It is expected to make European general and adult education, vocational education and training systems more transparent and accessible and is, therefore, expected to enhance student and worker mobility.

The main element of the EQF is a set of eight reference levels describing learners’ knowledge, skills and competences at each level and ‘learning outcomes’, in essence what a learner knows, understands and is able to do. The EQF reference levels thus represent a shift from the traditional approach, which emphasises learning inputs (length of a learning experience, type of institution).

Emphasis on comparing the ‘learning outcomes’ is expected to provide a better match between the needs of the labour market and education and training provisions and to facilitate the validation of non-formal and informal learning.

Eurochambers welcomed the proposal as it believes that "improved transparency between different qualification systems will contribute to the continuation of the Copenhagen process [enhanced co-operation in European vocational education and training], strengthen lifelong learning and mobility and help reach the Lisbon goals". However, Eurochambers believes that the currently proposed EGF is "very complicated" and should be brought closer to companies and individuals. It also thinks that eight reference levels regarding the learning outcomes are too many.

One of the objectives set out in the Bologna Declaration (June 1999) is the creation of a system designed to facilitate and improve the international comparability and transparency of academic and professional qualifications.

The 'Education and training 2010' work programme, part of the Lisbon agenda, was established in 2001. It aims to modernise European education systems in order for Europe to become, by 2010, the world leader in terms of the quality of its education and training systems.

In July 2005 the Commission published a working document entitled Towards a European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning and launched a wide stakeholder consultation on the issue. To see responses to the stakeholder consultation, click here.

  • The EQF proposal will now be examined by the Council and the European Parliament. Adoption is expected before the end of 2007.
  • The proposal foresees that member states relate their national qualifications systems to the EQF by 2009.

Read this article in Bulgarian (Dnevnik).

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