The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) for lifelong learning creates a common platform that links the qualifications systems of the forty or so participating nations. Their purpose is to enable labour market mobility and to facilitate lifelong learning that benefits the people and the country.
The EQF is based on learning outcomes. A learning outcome is defined as what a leaner knows, understands and is able to do upon completion of a learning process. It is outcome based not input defined.
This establishes a harmonious and balanced work place system that defines qualifications in different ways including theory and experience, technical and practical, individual and collective. It also addresses initial qualifications from schooling and continuous education.
There are eight levels in the EQF. Learning outcomes are defined as knowledge, skills and competence.
The knowledge element is defined as the theoretical to factual criteria. The skills component is defined as the cognitive element where cognitive means the use of logic, intuition, creativity as well as manual dexterity and the use of common methods, tools and instruments. The competence element is defined in term of responsibility and autonomy.
The learning outcomes relevant to Level 1 are:
- Basic general knowledge (Knowledge)
- Basic skills required to carry out simple tasks (Skill)
- The ability to work or study under direct supervision in a structured context (Competence)
The learning outcomes relevant to Level 2 are:
- Basic factual knowledge of a field of work or study (Knowledge).
- Basic cognitive and practical skills required to use relevant information in order to carry out tasks and to solve routine problems using simple rules and tools (Skill)
- The ability to work or study under supervision with some autonomy(Competence)
The learning outcomes relevant to Level 3 are:
- Knowledge of facts, principles, processes and general concepts, in a field of work or study (Knowledge)
- A range of cognitive and practical skills required to accomplish tasks and solve problems by selecting and applying basic methods, tools, materials and information (Skill)
- The ability to take responsibility for completion of tasks in work or study and to adapt own behaviour to circumstances in solving problems (Competence)
The learning outcomes relevant to Level 4 are
- Factual and theoretical knowledge in broad contexts within a field of work or study(Knowledge).
- A range of cognitive and practical skills required to generate solutions to specific problems in a field of work or study(Skill)
- The ability to exercise self-management within the guidelines of work or study contexts that are usually predictable, but are subject to change as well as to supervise the routine work of others, taking some responsibility for the evaluation and improvement of work or study activities(Competence)
The learning outcomes relevant to Level 5 are:
- Comprehensive, specialized, factual and theoretical knowledge within a field of work or study and an awareness of the boundaries of that knowledge (Knowledge).
- A comprehensive range of cognitive and practical skills required to develop creative solutions to abstract problems (Skill)
- The ability to exercise management and supervision in contexts of work or study activities where there is unpredictable change and to review and develop performance of self and others (Competence)
The learning outcomes relevant to Level 6 are:
- Advanced knowledge of a field of work or study, involving a critical understanding of theories and principles (Knowledge)
- Advanced skills, demonstrating mastery and innovation, required to solve complex and unpredictable problems in a specialized field of work or study(Skill)
- The ability to manage complex technical or professional activities or projects, taking responsibility for decision-making in unpredictable work or study contexts and to take responsibility for managing professional development of individuals and groups(Competence)
The learning outcomes relevant to Level 7 are:
- Highly specialized knowledge, some of which is at the forefront of knowledge in a field of work or study, as the basis for original thinking and/or research as well as the critical awareness of knowledge issues in a field and at the interface between different fields (Knowledge)
- Specialized problem-solving skills required in research and/or innovation in order to develop new knowledge and procedures and to integrate knowledge from different fields (Skill)
- The ability to manage and transform work or study contexts that are complex, unpredictable and require new strategic approaches and to take responsibility for contributing to professional knowledge and practice and/or for reviewing the strategic performance of teams (Competence)
The learning outcomes relevant to Level 8 are:
- Knowledge at the most advanced frontier of a field of work or study and at the interface between fields (Knowledge)
- The most advanced and specialized skills and techniques, including synthesis and evaluation, required to solve critical problems in research and/or innovation and to extend and redefine existing knowledge or professional practice (Skill)
- The ability to demonstrate substantial authority, innovation, autonomy, scholarly and professional integrity and sustained commitment to the development of new ideas or processes at the forefront of work or study contexts including research. (Competence)
How can we use this (if we decide to use it) in Canada and the United States to address some of our labour market issues?
The information in this document is taken from the The European Qualifications Framework for Life Long Learning.
Douglas Ross is an advocate for integrity as a strategy for performance. He is a consultant with Principle Dynamics Consulting Inc of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and Augusta, Georgia, USA.
© 2009 All Rights Reserved, Douglas Ross, Principle Dynamics Consulting Inc.