An introductory guide to national qualifications frameworks: Conceptual and practical issues for policy makers

A Qualifications Framework is an instrument for the development, classification and recognition of skills, knowledge and competencies along a continuum of agreed levels. It is a way of structuring existing and new qualifications, which are defined by learning outcomes, i.e. clear statements of what the learner must know or be able to do whether learned in a classroom, on-the-job, or less formally. The Qualifications Framework indicates the comparability of different qualifications and how one can progress from one level to another, within and across occupations or industrial sectors (and even across vocational and academic fields if the NQF is designed to include both vocational and academic qualifications in a single framework).

The Guide highlights that while an NQF can be a useful tool in addressing a number of the skills challenges, there is no single or universal form of NQF which can solve all skills problems. Its implementation needs to be fit-for-purpose with clear objectives in mind. An NQF can assist but is not a quick solution to the many skills challenges that a country faces. Without clear objectives and an understanding of how an NQF can best be developed, NQF implementation can be a lengthy and costly investment, which many developing countries may not be able to afford.


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