Status Quo of the Dutch Qualifications Framework (NLQF)

The Netherlands followed the EQF Recommendation and started to develop the Dutch National Qualifications Framework (NLQF) in September 2011. Therefore, a steering group consisting of the three main ministries and a national coordination point to promote the NLQF was set up. The NLQF is a systematic classification of all qualification levels in the Netherlands. Qualifications will be classified at the appropriate level in the NLQF and, thus, will be aligned to an appropriate EQF level. The framework is understood as a systematic arrangement of existing qualifications aiming at transparency and increased comparability. A NLQF level indicator does not give an entitlement to a title or a degree and likewise does not regulates the right to enter and transfer to education sectors.

The NLQF supports everybody in the Netherlands, including education and training institutions, social partners and employers and students, through:


  • enabling people of all ages and in different situations to identify their level of education and training in order to find an appropriate education and training programme where they canuse their abilities efficiently;
  • enabling employers and individuals to understand the levels of existing national qualifications and international qualifications (through the EQF) and how they relate to each other;
  • showing how the different qualifications contribute to improving workers’ skills in the labour market.

The NLQF mirrors in a natural way the already existing levels of learning, based on learning outcomes, in the Netherlands. The NLQF levels give also an indication of the complexity of qualifications. The entry level is the least complex and level 8 is the most complex level of learning. The levels are constructed in a way that a level of learning outcomes is built on lower levels. The results of the levels are not homogeneous and have no fixed pattern. The descriptor elements when combined together give an overview of the levels and describe within what context and with what type of knowledge a person can apply the knowledge, solve problems, learn and develop, acquire and use information and communicate and for what a person is responsible on the levels of responsibility. The vocational programmes of prevocational education and the VET qualifications are currently revised (2012-2013). The revised descriptions will use the NLQF descriptors to describe the learning outcomes.

The descriptors of the NLQF and the EQF can be compared in the sense of Learning Outcomes. The NLQF however uses some slight different definitions and descriptions.





The context descriptions of the levels are used along with the described knowledge to determine the grade of difficulty of the skills




Knowledge is the totality of facts, principles, theories and ways of working related to an occupation or aknowledge domain

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



Cognitive abilities (logical, intuitive and creative thinking) and practical abilities (psychomotor skills in applying methods, materials, tools and instruments) applied within a given context

Applying knowledge

Skills mean 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 oflogical, intuitive and creative thinking) or practical (involving manual dexterity and the use of methods, materials, tools and instruments)

Reproduce, analyse, integrate, evaluate, combine and apply

knowledge in anoccupation or aknowledge domain

Problem solving skills

Recognise or identify and solve problems

Learning and development skills

Personal development, autonomously or under supervision

Information skills

Obtain, collect, process, combine, analyse and assess information

Communication skills

Communicate based on conventions relevant to the context

Responsibility and independence


The proven ability to collaborate with others and to take responsibility for own work or study results or of others

Competence means the proven ability touse 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