ECVET & EQF with Learning Outcomes

The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) for lifelong learning provides for a common referencing tool for simplifying comparisons between national qualification frameworks. It acts as a translation device between different qualifications systems and their levels. The European Qualifications Framework contains eight levels, and the entire range of qualifications is running from the basic level to the highest professional qualifications levels. The levels are described in what the learner knows, understands, and is able to do, in other words, EQF is based on Learning Outcome descriptions. As the focus is shifted from learning input to Learning Outcomes, EQF facilitates as well validation of non-formal and informal learning. The framework in itself facilitates the linking together and integration of different processes, initiatives and instruments, and thus eases the comparability of qualification levels and education systems in different countries.

The framework’s aim is to encourage countries to relate their national qualification frameworks to the European framework, in order to ease the recognition of qualifications when people move to other countries. Skillsbank and YOMTOOL are compatible with the EQF framework. For more information on how the EQF framework functions take a look at the European Commissions site.

The European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) is a technical framework for transfer, recognition and accumulation of an individual’s Learning Outcomes aiming at achieving a qualification through documentation of competences. Therefore the ECVET framework can be used in mobility projects where learners are to achieve Learning Outcomes abroad, and get them documented, assessed, validated and recognised in the home country as a part of a qualification. This makes it more attractive to move and work or study in other countries. ECVET aims at providing greater comparability between the various vocational education and training (VET) systems across Europe, and therefore simplifies accumulation of Learning Outcomes acquired in a different country and get then recognised as a part of a qualification acquired in ones home country. For more information on ECVET have a look at http://www.ecvet-secretariat.eu/en

With the developments of the EQF a significant paradigm shift took place. From curricula and training plans defined through specified input volumes like number of pages or allotted time, and with intended Learning Outcomes indicated, the principles governing EQF and ECVET requires that the obtained Learning Outcomes are at the core of a qualification definition – and to be assessed, validated and recognised. Skillsbank and YOMTOOL are compatible with the paradigm shift towards Learning Outcomes orientation. Using Learning Outcomes is an alternative way to define and design education, training and qualifications. The shift from learning inputs, such as duration, type of education, location, programme, institution etc. to Learning Outcomes (learner centred approach), opens up for new possibilities to cover work based learning, including non- and informally acquired skills and competences. Learning Outcomes can be described in a holistic manner or specified into competence, knowledge and skills. Units of Learning Outcomes describe a core task or activity of the whole qualification.

The Learning Outcome approach is useful in several ways, especially for the understanding of education systems and levels across borders – national, regional or sectoral. In a mobility context, matching and validation of Learning Outcomes between sending and hosting partners is simplified, especially when using YOMTOOL. The Learning Outcomes approach eases the process of assessing training results, and can thus be more suitable for implementation at the work place.
Defining education through Learning Outcomes makes it possible to build logical and consistent matrixes of qualifications. These qualification matrixes enable recognition of prior learning, such as non-formal and informal learning as done in Skillsbank. Recognising competences and prior learning facilitates career guidance, permeability and flexible pathways through education and into the labour market.