Povl Tiedemann, Head of Department, Danish Business Economists
26 October 2007
From EU-press release it should be noted that on 25 October 2007 The European Parliament voted in favour of adopting the Recommendation on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning (EQF), proposed by the Commission in September 2006.
The EQF will link countries’ qualifications systems, improve their transparency and so act as translation device in order to help Member States, employers and individuals compare and better understand qualifications held by individual citizens from elsewhere in the EU.
The EQF is a translation grid for qualifications around Europe. It has two principal purposes: (1) to promote mobility between countries, and (2) to facilitate lifelong learning. Both are indespensable for achieving more and better jobs and growth, as Europe faces the challenge of becoming an advanced knowledge-based economy.
At the core of the EQF are its eight reference levels, from basic to advanced – combined with corresponding demands for Knowledge / Skills / Competence. These describe what a learner knows, understands and is able to do, regardless of the system in which the learner’s qualification was acquired.
The EQF therefore shifts the focus away from learning inputs (such as length of a learning experience, or type of institution), to learning outcomes. Shifting the focus towards learning outcomes brings significant advantages:
• It supports a better match between education and training provisions and the needs of the labour market (for knowledge, skills and competences).
• It facilitates the validation of non-formal and informal learning.
• It facilitates the transfer and use of qualifications across different countries and education and training systems.
As an instrument for promoting lifelong learning, the EQF encompasses general and adult education, vocational education and training, as well as higher education. The eight EQF levels cover the entire span of qualifications from those achieved at the end of compulsory education, up to those awarded at the highest level of academic and professional or vocational education and training.
The recommendation approved by the European Parliament foresees that Member states relate their national qualifications systems to the EQF by 2010, and that individual certificates or diplomas should bear an EQF reference by 2012.
From the statement of Commissioner Jan Figel: “People in Europe too often face obstacles when they try to move from one country to another to learn or work. They sometimes also face obstacles when they want to move from one part of their own country’s education system to another, e.g. from vocational education and training to higher education…”
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