Learners, workers and job seekers need their qualifications to be easily understood when they move to a new place, particularly if they are moving abroad. The same is true when employers are looking for the right candidate for an open position:they need to understand the skills, knowledge and experience of potential employees.
Because Europe’s education and training systems are very diverse, it is essential to have a common reference framework in order to better understand qualifications across different countries. This makes qualifications more transparent and comparable. The European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning (EQF) has been created to respond to this need, serving as a "translation grid" between national qualifications systems. It helps support lifelong learning, career management and the recognition of qualifications.
The EQF consists of eight levels of learning, and addresses all types and levels of qualifications from the formal education and training system, but also qualifications awarded by the private sector and international sector organisations. In principle all possible ways of learning can lead to the learning outcomes of a particular level, including the learning taking place in non-formal and informal contexts.
The EQF benefits learners, employers and education and training providers alike. It helps them to better understand and compare qualifications acquired in different countries, through different education and training systems and different learning pathways.
The ESCO qualifications pillar: bringing information together.
The ESCO qualifications pillar gathers information on qualifications in one place to make it easily and readily available to users.
Since 2014, the Commission has been supporting Member States and other partner countries (EFTA, EEA and candidate countries) financially to develop national qualifications databases and to interconnect these with the Learning with ESCO and with the Learning Opportunities and Qualifications portal (LOQ). Information on qualifications in ESCO will follow the elements for data fields for the electronic publication of information on qualifications included in Annex VI of the EQF Recommendation.
The LOQ portal and the ESCO qualifications pillar bring information from national authorities together on a European level, giving users a clear and understandable overview of qualifications in Europe. The inclusion of information on private, international and sectoral qualifications from other sources is currently in a testing phase.