National qualifications levels are linked to the EQF to create a common reference to help individuals and employers better understand and compare the different national qualifications systems and their levels in general or higher education, and vocational education and training.
The EQF is based on eight reference levels which are described in terms of learning outcomes, that is, what a learner knows, understands and is able to do, rather than focusing on the input side, such as length of study.
It is hoped this will make it easier to study or work in another European country by helping learners describe their competences to educational institutions or recruiters abroad. This transparency will, in turn, help employers interpret the qualifications of applicants and so support labour market mobility in Europe.
Currently an enterprise in Ireland may hesitate to recruit a job applicant from Hungary because it does not understand his or her qualifications. Once the EQF is fully implemented, the Hungarian candidate’s certificate will contain a reference to an EQF level, such as “EQF level 5” enabling an Irish employer to understand the Hungarian’s qualification and compare it with Irish qualifications.
Member States have been asked to relate their national qualifications systems to the relevant levels of the European Qualifications Framework by 2010, and several countries have announced their intention to do so in the near future. From 2012, all new qualifications should bear a reference to the EQF, so that employers and institutions can identify a candidate's skills knowledge, skills or competences.