This study examined the characteristics of international sectoral qualifications, frameworks and standards and analysed potential options for linking them to the EQF (European Qualifications Framework).
It drew on desk research, a survey of international sectoral/professional organisations, interviews with representatives of organisations responsible for selected initiatives, a survey of EQF NCPs and an expert workshop.
The study found that international sectoral initiatives were a widespread phenomenon. There were 254 identified organisations delivering these initiatives, of which several managed more than one. Most were qualifications, suites of qualifications, or standards. The initiatives examined in-depth cover a range of sectors and are most commonly targeted at high-skilled professionals.
Most have a high number of users and have been established for over a decade. Nearly all are described using learning outcomes and subject to quality assurance processes, although the latter varies considerably by organisation. Over half referred to EQF levels, of which two-thirds are directly or indirectly linked to an NQF.
There was demand from initiative owners for a process to directly link initiatives to the EQF. This was considered less burdensome than linking through NQFs and would ensure more consistent levelling decisions. Moreover, it reduced the risk of organisations linking qualifications to the EQF without formal validation.