The European Qualifications Framework

The EU developed the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) as a translation tool to make national qualifications easier to understand and more comparable. The EQF seeks to support cross-border mobility of learners and workers, promote lifelong learning and professional development across Europe.

The EQF is an 8-level, learning outcomes-based framework for all types of qualifications that serves as a translation tool between different national qualifications frameworks. This framework helps improve transparency, comparability and portability of people’s qualifications and makes it possible to compare qualifications from different countries and institutions.

The EQF covers all types and all levels of qualifications and the use of learning outcomes makes it clear what a person knows, understands and is able to do. The level increases according to the level of proficiency, level 1 is the lowest and 8 the highest level. Most importantly the EQF is closely linked to national qualifications frameworks, this way it can provide a comprehensive map of all types and levels of qualifications in Europe, which are increasingly accessible through qualification databases.

The EQF was set up in 2008 and later revised in 2017. Its revision has kept the core objectives of creating transparency and mutual trust in the landscape of qualifications in Europe. Member States committed themselves to further develop the EQF and make it more effective in facilitating the understanding of national, international and third-country qualifications by employers, workers and learners.

European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) and the European Training Foundation (ETF), as European Agencies, play an important role in supporting the implementation of the EQF. 

The ENIC/NARIC network is a network of national centres set up to directly support institutions and citizens with the recognition of academic qualifications.


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

ESCO works as a dictionary, describing, identifying and classifying professional occupations and skills relevant for the EU labour market and education and training.  Those concepts and the relationships between them can be understood by electronic systems, which allows different online platforms to use ESCO for services like matching jobseekers to jobs on the basis of their skills, suggesting trainings to people who want to reskill or upskill etc.


ESCO provides descriptions of occupations and skills linked to these occupations, translated into all official EU languages plus Icelandic, Norwegian, Ukrainian, and Arabic.


The aim of ESCO is to support job mobility across Europe and therefore a more integrated and efficient labour market, by offering a “common language” on occupations and skills that can be used by different stakeholders on employment and education and training topics. 

ESCO is available in an online portal and can be consulted free of charge. It can be downloaded or retrieved through the ESCO API.