Developing organisational and financial models
for including non-formal sector qualifications
in National Qualifications Frameworks

Objectives of the project

Project title: “Developing organisational and financial models for including non-formal sector qualifications in National Qualifications Frameworks” (NQF-IN project).

The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) Recommendation, and other European Union  strategic documents on Vocational Education and Training and Lifelong Learning policies (e.g. Bruges Communique, Education and Training 2020, Europe 2020), recommend that EU Member States implement overarching national qualifications frameworks (NQFs).

All member states declared their willingness to implement NQFs, and most have already presented referencing reports to the EQF Advisory Group. According to Cedefop (2015), the first stage of EQF implementation is reaching its final stage. However, in most EU countries with a functioning NQF, only “formal” qualifications can be referenced to it. Very few countries have introduced systemic solutions to include non-formal sector qualifications, i.e. those attained outside the formal education sectors (e.g. Scotland, Ireland, France).

Europe is just now beginning to face the stage of implementing solutions to include non-formal sector qualifications in NQFs. It is envisaged that the inclusion of non-formal sector qualification will constitute one of most important topics in discussions on NQF implementation at the EU and national levels in the coming years. Central issues in these discussions will consist of model solutions, the quality assurance of this process and its financial aspects.

The process of designing systemic solutions can be supported by learning from international experience. Policy learning can help in expanding government choices and assist decision makers in finding the best solutions.

The main goal of the NQF-IN project is to provide evidence based support to national governments, EU agencies and key stakeholders in developing policies on including non-formal sector qualification into NQFs.

This will be done by:

  1. providing systematised knowledge on the organisational and financial solutions applied in seven EU countries on including non-formal sector qualifications into their NQFs,
  2. developing organisational and financial models on including non-formal sector qualifications into NQFs.

A case analysis will be prepared for each of the seven countries, to consist of:
(a) the main elements of the qualifications system and the role of the NQF,
(b) institutional arrangements – the institutions responsible for NQF management, and the quality assurance of non-formal sector qualifications,
(c) costs of including qualifications in the NQF, indicating who covers these costs,
(d) the strengths and weaknesses of particular systemic solutions.

The organisational and financial models developed will include a description of:
(a) institutional arrangements – their pros and cons depending on the goals set for the NQF, and the broad institutional context,
(b) cost intensity – how cost intensive are the systemic solutions envisaged by the model,
(c) recommendations on its financing,
(d) “conditions of success”, i.e. which conditions have to be met in order for a particular model to work effectively within the national qualifications system.