Croatian Qualifications Framework (CROQF)
The Croatian Qualifications Framework (CROQF) was introduced in 2013 as a reform tool in the education system in Croatia. In 2013, the Croatian Parliament adopted the Act on Croatian Qualifications Framework (CROQF) thus establishing the CROQF and describing its implementation on the national level.
The act underwent several amendments, the last one in 2021. It defines the connection of Croatian qualifications levels with qualifications levels of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and the Qualifications Framework of the European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA).
The National Human Resources Development Council is a central strategic body for development of CROQF. The Council, composed from 24 members from wide range of stakeholders, has several important tasks. The National Human Resources Development Council:
- assesses and evaluates public policies, primarily policies of education, employment, lifelong professional guidance and regional development from the point of view of influence on the development of human resources and their contribution to the achievement of the strategic goals and competitiveness of the Republic of Croatia and the development of the society
- gives recommendations on the process of planning and development of human resources in accordance with the development strategy of the Republic of Croatia
- proposes measures of integrated and mutually harmonised employment, education, and regional development policies
- monitors and evaluates the effects of CROQF and individual qualifications and makes recommendations on improvements in connecting education and the needs of the labour market.
CROQF Act also introduced the establishment of Sector Councils as advisory bodies that take care of the development of human resources in accordance with the needs of the labour market within individual sectors.
The Act regulates the system of qualifications at all levels in the Republic of Croatia through qualifications standards based on learning outcomes and following the needs of the labour market, individuals, and the society.
CROQF has 8 levels of learning outcomes, 13 levels of full qualifications, and 6 levels of partial qualifications.
According to the CROQF Act, bodies and stakeholders in the development and application of CROQF are:
- National Council for Human Resources Development
- ministry responsible for education and science
- ministry responsible for work
- ministry responsible for regional development
- Agency for Science and Higher Education
- Agency for Vocational Education and Adult Education
- Education and Teacher Training Agency
- Sector Councils.
The revised CROQF Act (2021) provides a description of different types of qualifications (partial and full), their volume (e.g., as HROO, CSVET or ECTS points) and allocation within the levels of CROQF. These make up a foundation for the establishment of the validation system. The revised Act also defines a procedure for recognition and validation of units of learning outcomes.
The Rulebook on CROQF Register ( adopted in 2014, amended in 2021) is the implementing act which regulates: the content and the manner of conduct of the CROQF Register, applications for the entry into the Register, content and form of requests for the entry into the Register, assessment of the submitted requests, entry procedures, names of the Sector Councils, the selection of Sector Councils’ members and its tasks, and the external and the internal quality assurance system.
The CROQF Register is a system for the registration and integration of occupational standards with the qualifications standards through units of competences and units of learning outcomes. In January 2023 there were 432 occupational standards and 151 qualification standards in the CROQF Register.
The tools and approaches for assessing and anticipating skills needs
There are several approaches and tools that are used for assessing and anticipating skills needs (SAA) at the national, and sub-national levels.
In 2012 the Agency for VET and Adult Education developed a tool called sector profiles as an analytical basis for harmonising the needs of the labour market and education. By combining macroeconomic indicators and data from research on employers' needs regarding employee competences, the tool represented an important step forward in planning the development of the educational system and adopting educational policies. 13 sector profiles were developed.
The tool and the approach were further developed as a part of CROQF implementation. In the 2015-2016 period, the Ministry of Labour, as a part of introduction of CROQF, tasked the Economic institute to develop sector profiles for 8 sectors.
The sector profile serves to show the supply and demand of sector occupations and qualifications at macro level - by analysing trends in employment, unemployment and educational offer measured to participants of educational programmes by region and by occupational gender, i.e. CROQF levels.
Sector profiles represented an analytical basis for defining demand and supply for occupations and qualifications within the sector. The content of the sector profiles was used to check the relevance of qualifications for the needs of the labour market. It also served the proposers of standards in terms of recognising the demand for certain qualifications.
In order to support qualification development, the Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy has launched the Portal for advanced labour market monitoring (previously called CROQF portal) as the central portal with labour market and education indicators. The portal is designed to serve as the central tool for labour market monitoring and the main evidence base for the development of sector profiles and occupational standards as the key mechanisms of CROQF. The portal offers data visualisation, statistics, and analyses by CROQF sectors.
It integrates data on employment, unemployment, enrolment in secondary and higher education programmes, key economic activities and corresponding employment rates, and distribution of different occupations in sectors in relation to economic activities. The portal integrates data on unemployment from the Croatian Employment Service, data on employment from the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute, enrolment in secondary and higher education programmes from the Ministry of Science and Education and the relevant statistical indicators from the Croatian Bureau of Statistics.
Other similar main policies and programmes
The process of updating and revising VET curricula is managed by the Agency for VET and Adult Education (AVETAE) according to the standard methodology set down by the Agency.
In adult education, AVETAE has developed a methodology for adult education programmes for the acquisition of micro-qualifications, partial qualifications and complete qualifications financed through vouchers and other sources of financing. The methodology for creating adult education programmes is based on the occupational standard (or set of competences) and the qualification standard (or set of learning outcomes) from the CROQF Register.
Ordinance on Register of CROQF states that the ministry responsible for labour and the competent agencies are obliged to determine the need for revision of occupational standards and sets of competences, i.e. standards of qualifications and sets of learning outcomes, entered in the corresponding sub-register.
Each occupational standard has the deadline by which the occupational standard can be used to justify proposing qualification standards and sets of learning outcomes. Likewise, qualification standards have the deadline for revision. Stakeholders are involved in designing and reviewing the offer and content of VET programmes on system and micro level. The Council for VET coordinates the work of all stakeholders in the field of vocational education, launches initiatives for adopting new or amending existing curricula, proposes measures and activities, as well as strategies for the development of vocational education, etc.
The National Human Resources Development Council gives recommendations on the process of planning and development of human resources in accordance with the development strategy of the Republic of Croatia.
On microlevel employers are involved in the process of development of occupational standards. In the ongoing process of development of more than 100 new VET curricula, AVETAE has included a wide range of stakeholders: employers, VET teachers and principals, higher education teachers, etc.
The CROQF is implemented in higher education with the aim of encouraging the establishment and development of study programmes relevant to the development of the economy and society since the main concept of CROQF includes occupational standards, qualifications standard and programmes aligned with these standards.
Occupational standards contain information about key work tasks related to a particular occupation and competences required to perform those tasks. They are developed in line with a specific methodology by working groups composed of stakeholders and confirmed through Occupational Standard Survey, a questionnaire developed for the purpose of collecting the necessary information, which is filled-in by employers and employees.
Occupational standards serve as the basis for development of qualifications standards (if the role of a specific qualification is to prepare an individual for the labour market). Qualifications standards, based on occupational standards and developed in line with specific guidelines, define the minimum learning outcomes an individual needs to acquire in order to obtain a specific qualification.
Proposals of occupational and qualifications standards can be proposed by any natural or legal person with a justified interest. However, if those proposals are to become national standards, they need to be positively assessed by assessment committees, and finally approved by the competent body. Once the standards are approved, they enter the national database called the CROQF Register and become national standards.
The Agency for Science and Higher Education (ASHE) is the institution responsible for assessing proposals of qualifications standards at the higher education level and for decisions on entry of the qualification standards at the higher education levels into appropriate CROQF sub-registers. For that purpose, assessment committees consisting of experts in the field of the proposed qualification standard are established.
Once qualifications standards enter the CROQF Register, they become the basis for development or redesign of educational programmes. ASHE also assesses whether developed or redesigned educational programmes at the higher education levels comply with the qualification standards entered into the CROQF Register.