Glossary of key terms:

Please use the CEDEFOP glossaries in order to find further definitions used in the context of European transparency instruments:

European tools related to vocational education and training


European Qualifications Framework


European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training


European quality assurance reference framework for VET (read more)


Europass is a free of charge service offered by the European Union. It supports the transparent documentation of qualifications and competences acquired in different contexts (read more)


ESCO is the multilingual classification of European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations (read more)


The European Job Mobility portal (read more)


International Standard Classification of Education (read more

Terms of major relevance for EQF implementation

Learning outcome

Learning Outcomes means statements of what a learner knows, understands and is able to do on completion of a learning process, which are defined in terms of knowledge, skills and competence.

EQF descriptors


_Knowledge means the outcome of the assimilation of information through learning. Knowledge is the body of facts, principles, theories and practices that is related to a field of work or study. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework, knowledge is described as theoretical and/or factual.
means the ability to apply knowledge and use know-how to complete tasks and solve problems. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework, skills are described as cognitive (involving the use of logical, intuitive and creative thinking) or practical (involving manual dexterity and the use of methods, materials, tools and instruments).
_Competence means the proven ability to use knowledge, skills and personal, social and/or methodological abilities, in work or study situations and in professional and personal development. In the context of the European Qualifications Framework, competence is described in terms of responsibility and autonomy. Sometimes it is pointed out to be the decisive factor in the process of referencing qualifications to a qualifications frameworks level.

Lifelong Learning

All learning activity undertaken throughout life, which results in improving knowledge, know-how, skills, competences and/or qualifications for personal, social and/or professional reasons.

Mutual trust


A zone of mutual trust (ZMT) is an agreement between individuals, enterprises and other organisations on the delivery, recognition and evaluation of vocational learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and competences). It offers practical help with decisions about the value of qualification and certification, further learning and recruitment into employment. ZMTs may be dynamic in nature and may become more or less formal in scope and form according to the mutual confidence and needs of the stakeholders involved.


The process of (a) assigning qualifications to a certain qualifications framework level and (b) matching one qualifications frameworks leves with the levels of another one.

EQF level

Level of qualfication expressed in terms of a certain level of knowledge, skills and competenceds associated with the level (see also)

Terms of major relevance for ECVET implementation



Learning Outcomes means statements of what a learner knows, understands and is able to do on completion of a learning process, which are defined in terms of knowledge, skills and competence.


A component of a qualification, consisting of a coherent set of knowledge, skills and competence, that can be assessed and validated


A set of individuals' learning outcomes which have been assessed and which can be accumulated towards a qualification or transferred to other learning programmes or qualifications

ECVET points


A numerical representation of the overall weight of learning outcomes in a qualification and of the relative weight of units in relation to the qualification. Please not ECVET points are no longer practically applied!

Education elements

informal learning

_formal: Learning that occurs in an organised and structured environment and is explicitly designated as learning. Formal learning is intentional from the learners point of view. It typically leads to validation and certification.
_non-formal: Learning which is embedded in planned activities not explicitly designated as learning. Non-formal learning is intentional from the learners point of view.
_informal: Learning resulting from daily activities related to work, family or leisure. It is not organised or structured in terms of objectives, time or learning support. Informal learning is in most cases unintentional from the learners point of view.


Learning Outcomes means statements of what a learner knows, understands and is able to do on completion of a learning process, which are defined in terms of knowledge, skills and competence.


The process of appraising knowldege, know-how, skills and/or comptences of an individual against predefined criteria (learning expectations, measurement of learning outcomes). Assessment is typically followed by validation and certification.


(a) formal recognition: the process of granting official status to skills and competences either through the award of qualification (certificate, diploma, titles) or grant of equivalence, credit units or waivers, validation of gained skills and/or competences;
(b) social recognition: the acknowledgement of the value of skills and/or competences by economic and social stakeholders.


Confirmation by a competent body that learning outcomes (knowledge, skills, competences) acquired by an individual in a formal, non-formal or informal setting have been assessed against predefined criteria and are compliant with the requirements of a validation standard. Validation typically leads to certification.


(also diploma, titel) An official document, issued by an awarding body, which records the achievement of an individual following an assessment and validation against a predefined standard. (Certification of learning outcomes ... The process of issuing a certificate, diploma or title formally attesting that a set of learning outcomes (knowledge, know-how, skills and/or competences) acquired by an individual have been assessed and validated by a competent body against a predefined standard.)


The inventory of activities implemented to design, organise and plan an education or training action, including the definition of learning objectives, content, methods (incl. assessment) and material, as well as arrangements for training teachers and trainers.


An occupational profile is a description of the knowledge, skills, competences that a professional or worker must have to perform a competently at the workplace.


Qualification means a formal outcome of an assessment and validation process which is obtained when a competent body determines that an individual has achieved learning outcomes to given standards.


Qualifications Framework means an instrument for the classification of qualifications according to a set of criteria for specified levels of learning achieved, which aims to integrate and coordinate national or sectoral qualifications subsystems and improve the transparency, access, progression and quality of qualifications in relation to the labour market and civil society.


National Qualifications System means all aspects of a states activity related to the recognition of learning and other mechanisms that link education and training to the labour market and civil society. This includes the development and implementation of institutional arrangements and processes relating to quality assurance, assessment and the award of qualifications. A National Qualifications System may be composed of several subsystems and may include a National Qualifications Framework.

Stakeholders & institutions

EQF advisory group

The EQF advisory group brings together representatives from national authorities and other stakeholders to help with the implementation of the framework. Its work is complemented by the EU-wide Learning Outcomes Group which supports debate and peer learning on relevant issues, focusing on the development of national qualifications frameworks and the validation of non-formal and informal learning.

National Coordination Point (NCP)

In each participating country a national coordination point has been put in place in order to facilitate the process of referencing national qualifications frameworks to the EQF so that all new qualifications issued from 2012 carry a reference to an appropriate EQF level. Likewise also ECVET NCPs exist all over the participating countries.

Awarding/ competent

A body issuing qulifications (certificates, diplomas or titles) formally recognising the learning outcomes (knowledge, skills, competences) of an individual, following an assessment and validation procedure.

Definitions based on/ taken from:
_Terminology of European education and training policy: A selection of 100 key terms, CEDEFOP
_Glossary: Quality in education and training, CEDEFOP
_"First"-project glossary
_Website of the European Commission, Education & training
_European Qualifications Framework portal
_UNESCO Institute for Statistics
_European reference levels for education and training promoting credit transfer and mutual trust, CEDEFOP