Status Quo of Sectoral Approaches to EQF and ECVET in Europe

© Mark Atkins /

The 23 April 2008 Recommendation on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning (EQF) of the European Parliament and Council has set as one of its objectives to ensure, for the overall VET system, the comparability of different qualifications systems and their levels in Europe.

Sectoral needs into the focus

Yet if referencing National Qualifications Frameworks to the EQF is at the core of the EQF referencing process many EU countries have undertaken, this should not let us lose sight of the fact that –at least indirectly, through referencing to NQFs- Sectoral qualifications and Sectoral Qualification Frameworks can also increase their comparability features through referencing to the EQF.

The sectoral approach to building qualifications and qualification frameworks reflects the need by professionals to notably facilitate professional mobility, increase comparability and transparency of qualifications, address up-to-date and continuously-evolving labour concerns, stick closer to work processes described in more accurate terms, provide VET solutions tailored to the needs of the sector etc.

Sectoral initiatives on their way to build up sector specific frameworks with EQF reference

In this regard, a noticeable trend lies in the growing consciousness that sectoral endeavours need to cover not only national but European sectoral concerns as well since we are ultimately all a part of a single European economic and labour market where work processes are roughly equivalent and call for the acquisition of the same knowledge, skills and competences by all workers performing same level activities. Multinational partnerships and sectoral initiatives have already been set up in sectors such as ICT and Transport where national boundaries have become growingly irrelevant.

Whereas in the past many SQFs used to be aimed merely at providing a catalogue of qualifications, nowadays, the need for referencing to a common framework – the EQF- stimulates the adoption of a learning outcomes approach, even though the descriptors and the levels used in SQFs do not necessarily match descriptors and levels of the EQF.

Leonardo da Vinci projects bear the most compelling examples of sectoral commitment in Europe to increased transparency of qualifications and increased mobility of learners. It is within the framework of this type of projects that the EQF underlying learning outcomes approach is confronted to sectoral realities and that the groundwork for ECVET effective mobility can be initiated.

Sectoral Framework in practice

The e-Competence Framework is a practical example of such an SQF that is widely accepted and applied within industry. Other SQFs are under preparation such as the case for the Transport & Logistics sector at European level, are already applied at national level such as in France or exist as theoretical concepts such as in the automotive sector.

This is another example of an SQF on Border Guarding, the first SQF within law enforcement:


Video source: Frontex

An SQF for the Transport & Logistics Sector in Europe

The European project MetaLog develops a Sectoral Qualifications Framework especially for the transport & logistics sector in Europe: