The European qualifications framework (EQF) is a systematic way of classifying qualifications based on learning outcomes – what people know and can do with their knowledge, rather than where they got their diplomas. It will link different countries’ national qualifications to a common European reference.
The idea is to make national qualifications more comparable across Europe, so an Irish recruiter, say, can more easily ‘read’ the qualifications of a Hungarian applicant and assess their suitability for a job.
At the official launch of the qualifications framework on 26 November, education commissioner Ján Figel’ explained: “This [development] goes to the heart of what the EU is about: mobility, cooperation between countries, promoting prosperity and helping individual citizens fulfil their potential through learning.”
The EQF is the first international framework to cover the entire range of qualifications: higher education, vocational training, adult education and general education. All 27 EU countries are being encouraged to link their national qualifications systems to the framework by 2010. It is hoped that by 2012, every new qualification in the EU will be referenced in the framework.
Work on the framework started in 2004 when only France, Ireland and the UK had national qualifications frameworks. Now, most EU countries are in the process of developing one.
The EQF joins existing EU programmes like Europass, Ploteus and the lifelong learning programme which all aim to improve the recognition of qualifications and encourage anyone wishing to work and study elsewhere in the EU.
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