The Europe of Skills

European Qualifications Framework: what it is, and how it works

Aiming to launch a unique action, targeted to define and refer to the standards of skills within "his" Countries, Europe has developed a framework called the EQF-European Qualifications Framework (, available in 8 different levels (starting from a basic level 1, and reaching an extremely advanced level 8, with a mechanism that is exactly the same as that for classifications used within foreign language courses) depending on the training results achieved on a triple track represented by variables such as knowledge, tasks and skills. In practice, it is a common European framework designed to link the qualification systems of different Countries, acting as a "translation device" in order to make qualifications more "readable" (and, therefore, understandable) between different European States and systems.

EQF works on two dimensions:

  • “level dimension”, or “how the complexity of the learning outcomes increases along with the qualification levels. For example, the level of autonomy expected of the holder of a level 2 qualification is much less than the expectations of a level 7 qualification holder";


  • "learning domains dimension", which distinguishes between "knowledge, skills and autonomy/responsibility, allowing different types of qualifications to be classified at the same level. For example, qualifications with the same overall learning outcomes level can be of a more academic, vocational or professional orientation."

It is a classificational criterion applicable to professions, that proceeds for homogeneous and shared taxonomies, and which essentially represents the Community summation of the various National Qualification Frameworks (NQFs) used by individual Member States.

After a first preparatory phase, the EQF was officially adopted on 23rd April 2008, with two formal objectives linked, respectively, to offer the possibility for European citizens to move to the different Countries of the Union, while still claiming credits, and to facilitate lifelong learning experiences, linked to the need of continuous individual learning experiences throughout the life. At the heart, an innovative approach that, rather than relying on content, programmes, duration, type of study, remains rather focused on results achieved in terms of learning, defined exactly by what is known and understood after a training course.

The European “grid” is able, in its premises, to bring concrete benefits both to individual profiles and, in a broader sense, to employers, education and training systems. This is because, in the first place, its systemic adoption offers the possibility of transferring (or easily using) the qualifications acquired in different Countries, thereby increasing mobility trends for students and workers in the Union. Still, EQF increases, as mentioned above, lifelong learning, by establishing common ground that is not affected by barriers between the different educational and training actors, while promoting the progression of learning. In addition, the adoption of this standard also aims to facilitate the validation of non-formal/informal learning, resulting in benefit for those who have accumulated differentiated work experience. Moreover, EQF is also working in line with the market need for internationalised qualifications, setting itself up as a facilitation tool for comparing and linking qualifications issued by National authorities and from "other" subjects. To do this in concrete, the European Framework stimulates the development of its National Qualification appendixes on the territory. For Italy, the implementation of the standard has passed into the hands of former ISFOL, now INAPP.