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TVETipedia Glossary

Find and compare definitions of key terms in TVET


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Qualifications framework

You can find information on National Qualifications Frameworks for virtually all countries in UNESCO-UNEVOC’s TVET Country Profiles database. An overview of Regional Qualifications Frameworks is available right here in TVETipedia.

Instrument for developing, classifying and issuing qualifications at international, national, regional or sectoral levels according to a set of criteria (such as descriptors) applicable to specified levels of learning outcomes.


A qualifications framework can be used to:

  • establish national standards of knowledge, skills and competences;
  • promote quality of education;
  • provide a system of coordination or integration of qualifications and enable comparison of qualifications by relating qualifications to one another;
  • promote access to learning, transfer of learning outcomes and progression in learning.

Based on European Parliament and Council of the European Union, 2008; OECD, 2007a

Cedefop, Glossary. Terminology of European education and training policy, (accessed 03/2023)

A structure for setting out the levels at which vocational qualifications accredited by regulatory authorities can be recognized.

UNESCO-UNEVOC/NCVER, TVET glossary: some key terms, 2009

The structure into which accredited qualifications are placed, allowing learners, training providers and employers to gain information about the broad equivalence of qualifications.

UNESCO, Terminology of Technical and Vocational Education, 1984

A system for placing qualifications that meet certain standards of quality on one of a series of hierarchical levels.

ILO, An Introductory Guide to National Qualifications Frameworks, 2007

The hierarchical classification of the levels of formal learning programmes and their associated qualifications and certificates.

(Comment: More advanced NQFs can also play a role in facilitating stakeholder interactions, creating coherent qualifications systems, ensuring fit-for-purpose qualifications, supporting wider quality assurance processes, recognizing learning gained outside formal education and training and for driving broader educational reforms. They also make national qualifications systems more transparent to foreigners.)

UNESCO, Level-setting and recognition of learning outcomes: The use of level descriptors in the twenty-first century, 2015

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