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Showing and using skills

Transparency and recognition of all types of skills and qualifications is necessary to enable people in Europe access opportunities to be truly mobile between employment, learning opportunities or within and between countries.

Systems, tools and supports need to enhance visibility of skills and qualifications acquired in different settings and establish trust and understanding of qualifications from different education and training systems.

EU initiatives on transparency and recognition of skills and qualifications:

The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) – how to compare qualifications in Europe:

The European Qualifications Framework is a tool to help compare national qualification systems and frameworks from different countries. The EQF is an eight level framework based on learning outcomes (what persons know, the skills they have and what they can do), that acts as a translation device between different national qualifications frameworks and qualifications. A process called 'referencing' has been established by the EU and participating countries to agree the relationship between the levels of the EQF and national qualifications frameworks (NQF) or systems. Learners, graduates, providers and employers can use these levels to understand and compare qualifications awarded in different countries and by different education and training systems.

Validation of non-formal and informal learning – skills acquired outside of school or university:

Providing people with opportunities for validation of their non-formal and informal learning helps deliver on principle 1 of the European Pillar of Social Rights of having the right to access quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning.

People throughout their life develop skills through work, volunteering activities, leisure, life experience, self-learning, online learning, non-institutional courses and more. Validation of such skills helps them to better integrate into the labour market and the society.

The successful implementation of the 2012 Recommendation on the validation of non-formal and informal learning will contribute to making this right a reality. The Recommendation invites EU countries to put in place arrangements for validation no later than 2018.

EU countries and stakeholders are sharing validation policies and practices through the European Qualifications Advisory Group and peer learning activities. European guidelines on validation and a European inventory of validation arrangements support the process. 

The Commission will take stock of the follow-up to the Recommendation and will report to EU countries on the experience gained and implications for the future.

Credit systems – document your learning results:

Credit systems are used to measure the learning achievements and workload of a programme of education or training. Credit systems make learning and qualifications more transparent and easily understood across different education systems and institutions so that learners can transfer or move from one education institution to another more easily. The European Credit and Transfer System (ECTS) has been developed for the higher education system while the European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) has been developed for vocational education and training.

Quality Assurance – standards for the quality of teaching and learning:

Quality Assurance arrangements and principles are put in place to ensure high quality and relevant education and training systems and delivery. All types and levels of qualifications that are referenced to the EQF (i.e. have an established relationship with the EQF) should be quality assured to enhance trust and confidence in the quality of education. Quality assurance comprises e.g. the design of qualifications, the application of the learning outcomes approach, the process of certification, the assessment of standards, internal and external evaluation methods.

Quality assurance arrangements have been established in higher education and vocational education and training.

ENIC-NARIC – two networks working for the recognition of higher education:

To implement the Lisbon Recognition Convention dealing with recognition of qualifications in higher education the ENIC (European Network of Information Centres on academic recognition and mobility) network has been established by the Council of Europe and UNESCO. The NARIC (National Academic Recognition Information Centres) network was created on the initiative of the Commission, with the aim of improving academic recognition of diplomas and periods of study in the Member States, the EEA countries and Turkey. The joint ENIC-NARIC network meets and collaborates on shared objectives in academic recognition.