“Qualifications are essential to individuals, the economy and society. They signal the knowledge and skills that people possess, which allows them to obtain a job or pursue a career, access education or training programmes, and move between countries for work or study. No other tool or representation of a person’s capacities can fulfil this function so effectively.
But qualifications - like any other element in any education and training system – must keep pace with the speed of change in the world around them, which in qualifications means especially internationalisation of labour markets, the advance of digital technologies and migration.
ETF identifies that these forces – so fast and powerful that we all struggle to keep up - are compelling change in qualification systems in four main areas: internationalisation of qualifications, validation and recognition, digitalisation of qualification systems and curricula development.
ETF seeks to understand these transformations, to shape and influence the debate about them, and, above all, to develop tools and provide advice to our partners to meet the change.
Qualifications systems are increasingly interconnected and international in character. In the EU, people arriving from ETF partner countries are a very substantial share of migrants. Partner countries attract foreign investment and become part of global value chains. International qualifications already play an important role. The number of platform workers providing services for EU customers is growing.
So, we are supporting partner countries in the EQF process to complete referencing. In 2021, we will break new ground in extending the EQF beyond the current set of countries, by piloting comparison of the EQF to the Ukrainian and Moroccan NQFs and the Southern African Development Community Qualifications Framework.
Influencing the international debate on qualifications systems, we contribute data to the new OECD Higher VET Working Group and provide inputs to the UNESCO-led World Reference Levels Group. In Regional Qualifications Frameworks, we publish a new survey of RQFs worldwide, including on several African RQFs.
Our engagement in Africa is growing, as we follow up our mapping of 13 African NQFs in 2020 with further conceptual and technical and development of the African Continental Qualifications Framework. Our mapping is at: African Continental Qualifications Framework (ACQF) mapping study reports | AUDA-NEPAD
Digitalisation of qualifications systems can increase accessibility, comparability and international recognition and validation of qualifications. In 2021, we will run a survey on micro-credentials in partner countries, plus bring all existing partner country databases together in a single repository to compare and link them.
As so many adults change jobs or occupations now, they need to be assisted by flexible systems which allow skills acquisition and their recognition. Validation of non-formal and informal learning systems are a key element of such lifelong learning solutions. Countries need to enable people to mix different qualifications and match them to their personal needs e.g. combining certificates obtained in higher education, VET, online learning and validating work experience, through micro credentials that can be aggregated. In validation, we provide direct advice to countries and are surveying 8 countries’ validation systems. In recognition, we advise countries on tools to integrate migrants into labour markets.
Bilaterally, we advise countries and regions on NQFs, qualifications and standards, so that they produce modern, lifelong learning, qualifications, and on how these should be linked with curricula reforms.
We monitor countries’ progress in NQF development in the NQF Inventory fiches, which also form part of the biennial Global Inventory of National and Regional Qualifications Frameworks, co-produced with Cedefop and UNESCO.
To engage in discussion on qualification issues, please go to the dedicated page on the ETF's virtual platform, Open Space.
Later in 2021, we will establish a link on this page to a new Qualifications Resource Centre, which will include a range of digitalised resources to support our partners in modernising their qualifications systems, including linked databases, NQF and validation country fiches, links to EU tools, and mapping reports.