European Qualifications Framework - the first 10 years

More than 300 people from employment, education and training organisations joined "The European Qualifications Framework: supporting learning, work and cross border mobility" conference on 15-16 March in Brussels. LLL-P's Steering Committee members were invited to participate at the event.
Participants discussed the following topics in interactive workshops on the first day, followed up by high level panels on the second day:
  • How has the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), and its focus on learning outcomes, supported the modernisation of education and training systems?
  • How has the EQF helped build trust and increase transparency and comparability of qualifications?
  • How do qualifications frameworks facilitate validation of non-formal and informal learning?
  • How can qualifications frameworks support the recognition of qualifications?
  • What is the role of social partners and other stakeholders in the EQF process and what are their future expectations?
  • How have the EQF and the development of qualifications frameworks supported international and global cooperation?

The issues discussed most were
  • the relevance and prevalence of the learning outcomes approach of the EQF as compared or sometimes complemented by a process oriented approach
  • he importance of soft skills and the width of skills that are not solely technical, and their fitting into the EQF
  • how to make sure the learning outcomes standards support the learner to reach their full potential rather than having a dumbing down effect of meeting the minimum only
  • sector skills needs as compared to very specific needs of certain professions in those sectors.

Ann Branch, Acting Director of the Skills Directorate at DG EMPL emphasised that the EQF has been the most impacting EU tool on national education systems. Its update in 2017 was part of the EU Skills Agenda. She has set the scene also for the next 10 years: the revision of national frameworks is in progress, but for a full implementation there is a need for political support, involvement of all stakeholders (including parents). For the EQF to be seen as the road to quality qualifications there is a need to build trust.

Denitsa Sacheva, Deputy Minister for Education and Science on behalf of the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU highlighted the role of the EQF in enhanced worker mobility and lifelong learning. She also emphasised the important role the EQF plays in modernising VET and also making it more attractive – a topic very high on the EU Agenda..

Jens Bjornavold, the leading EQF expert of CEDEFOP emphasised that the EQF is not the result of the so-called Copenhagen process on the modernisation of vocational education, but discussions on lifelong learning and it needs to be treated accordingly.

Alison Crabb, Head of the Skills and Qualifications Unit of DG EMPL made the link between EQF and the modernisation Europass. This link needs to be made as the EQF is not a tool for the assessment of individual skills, while the Europass is, but they are very closely linked, especially since both primarily cater for labour market needs.

Grant Klinkum from the New Zealand Qualifications Framework was a keynote speaker playing the role of a critical friend. He summarised the to-do’s for the near future and the following 10 years as follows:
  • introduce more flexibility into the EQF
  • don’t waste time on useless or repeated trainings
  • it needs to be taken into consideration that various learning pathways may lead to micro-credentials that are part of macro-qualifications – they need to be validated and utilised
  • it needs to be understood that NQFs, based on the EQF are a political tool and deal with them accordingly
  • the value of transversal/soft skills should be signalled by qualification frameworks
  • there is a need to make an alignment with new forms of work
  • a shift from learning outcomes to credentials is desirable.

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