Dissemination event on a network of national databases

The European Training Foundation (ETF) is the Agency of the European Union which helps third countries to improve the development of their human capital, within the framework of the European Union's policies on external relations. Currently, the ETF cooperates at national and regional level with countries in the EU Neighborhood and Enlargement Regions, as well as in Central Asia, and contributes to EU external policies and programs at pan-African level.

23 out of the current 28 ETF partner countries have developed and adopted qualifications frameworks, and this number is expected to increase further. These NQFs aim to support better links between education and the labour market, promote lifelong learning and the use of learning outcomes in assessment and learning. NQFs can support progression, mobility, validation of non-formal and informal learning, alternative pathways and support individuals in their career and personal development. More transparency and trust in qualifications is often an  important aspect of these qualifications frameworks.

NQFs are frameworks of qualifications, they work through concrete qualifications that are part of the NQF and accessible to users. New learning and career opportunities, new combinations of pathways, more relevant programmes; it all depends on qualifications that are actually available, accessible and used. NQFs can only be operational if there are qualifications in these frameworks.

The EQF is playing an important role in making qualifications between European countries easier to understand and promoting lifelong learning. The adoption of the EQF in 2008, has not only been a stimulus for developing NQFs in the EU, but also in the Neighbourhood and Central Asia given an impetus to the development. The EQF and NQFs are increasingly important as well as a tool to support recognition. Currently, 41 countries are in the EQF Advisory Group including 10 ETF partner countries. In the EQF countries NQFS are linked with the EQF through referencing. After referencing EQF levels are indicated on national qualifications. Qualifications are stored in national databases of qualifications and brought together in a common European database, using European tools such as the European Learning Model, Europass and ESCO. This allows to make the data on qualifications interoperable so that qualifications between countries can be compared, and data on qualifications can be linked with learning opportunities, accredited providers and digital credentials on one hand and with data on skills and occupations on the other hand, using artificial intelligence to link all these different data in different languages.

However, a large group of countries that are outside the EQF Advisory Group is also looking for links. Cooperation between the Union and third countries over the transparency of qualifications can foster migrant integration into Union labour markets. Given the growing migration flows to and from the Union, a better understanding and a fair recognition of qualifications awarded outside the Union is needed. A process for the comparison of the EQF with qualifications frameworks in third countries is piloted to facilitate better understanding of qualifications from other countries outside the EQF Advisory Group.

Most of the partner countries still have empty qualifications registers, and have not yet developed their data base of qualifications. Having a database is important to implement the NQF.

A growing number of EU projects is developed to support national solutions. Ensuring that the data are interoperable opens new opportunities to link data on qualifications within different subsectors of education and training systems within partner countries, but being able to links data beyond individual countries, obviously opens additional possibilities to increase the international value of qualifications. The ETF has therefore developed a concept of a network of national databases using the EU tools to make the data on qualifications, learning, occupations and skills interoperable. The concept was developed last year, and an ex ante evaluation was undertaken to establish the interests of stakeholders from partner countries, the Commission services and the EU member states in such a network. This year we have progressed further with developing guidelines for establishing databases of qualifications, using an open architecture, developing a Proof of Concept to show the features of the network and by exploring with a number of partner countries how the concepts could be used to develop their databases of qualifications. The results of this work will be the topic for a dissemination webinar on 14 June 2023.

Participants in the webinar could come from stakeholders in all partner countries, from Commission services such as DG EMPL, DG NEAR, DG HOME, DG EAC and DG GROWTH with an interest in recognising the qualifications of partner countries, from Cedefop, ELA and the EUAA, from EU MS representatives from the EQF AG, NCPs, Europass and PES networks and ENIC NARIC Recognition Centres.

More information

Agenda of the event
ESCO presentation
Joint presentation on qualifications databases
ETF presentation on qualifications databases
European Learning model, digital credentials and the link to ESCO